There was once a time when you knew where you were in the year by virtue of what was happening in the property market.
The spring spirit of new beginnings saw increased interest in fresh starts and securing a new home by the summer; the summer meanwhile was quiet as people departed for sunnier climes; whilethe early autumn was always busy as people sought to achieve a completion before the festive period which again went quieter.
Yet 2015 has in some respects been different. Has this been just a blip? An anomaly? Or something deeper rooted which the industry needs to be prepared to adapt to?
Certainly as we’ve continued to emerge from the economic downturn, the property market has enjoyed continued growth. However, as the election loomed in the spring, the market experienced a hiatus as uncertainty prevailed.
Even with a conclusive outcome, the recovery took longer than many had anticipated and this consequently changed the market over the summer months.
Simply, the interest we received from potential purchasers and renters this summer was significantly higher than the same period in 2014, while calls to our service centre, which normally experiences a drop in calls over the summer, in fact rose by 16%!
There’s also the ‘will they, won’t they?’ debate around an interest rate rise. Having experienced a protracted period of low rates, the entire industry is anticipating what the impact will be when they do start to creep up again, and with the new year mooted as one possibility, we should be getting ready now for whatever that impact may be.
Supply of properties remains a challenge and as we enter the 100 day countdown to Christmas we need to work hard to ensure that sellers act quickly to market their properties and be settled before December 25.
All these factors point to one thing. For those of us at the coal face we need to be prepared to ditch the ageing calendar that we’ve historically used to predict the market, and instead accept that there are no longer ‘normal’ property market conditions.
In the digital age, the world is a much smaller place and many more factors have the potential to hold sway and influence – the property market is not immune to this.
This requires us to become more agile so that we better understand these, as yet unknown, influences and better respond to whatever the market, and importantly our customers, require of us.
*Chris Chapman is managing director of Andrews Estate Agency