Happy New Year, to you all. Now that we’re all back in harness and Christmas feels like a long-distant memory, I thought it might be a good idea to muse on the year to come.
As per usual the scaremongers have been out in forces forecasting doom and gloom for the property sector in 2023. But now that we’ve actually settled into the new annum, I’ve noticed some reassuring reports from some front-line warriors.
The good folk at Rightmove recorded record numbers of new sellers putting their homes on the market on Boxing Day – 46% up on 2021.
They also saw an increase in the number of views of homes for sale – up 20% on the previous week.
These numbers suggest that there was an early ramping up of activity which will hopefully gather pace until the Spring selling season.
And while it’s true that this year is probably going to be tougher, most experts believe that fears of any sort of crash have been exaggerated. Yes, there have been a few price drops over the last few months, but Paula Higgins of the Homeowners Alliance believes this to be more of a correction after the post-pandemic boom, than anything else.
Some may say, ‘She would say that, wouldn’t she?’
But many of our estate agent pals are reporting an energetic start to enquiries so far this year and are buoyed by it.
Truth is, the market is likely to be less frenetic than it has been in recent years but there will be business out there to be fought for. We’ll all just have to work that bit harder to win it.
And would-be buyers should be encouraged to take the long view. We all know that property prices are cyclical and although they will probably take a hit this year, there is no reason to doubt that they will recover and increase – as they have always done in the past.
On the political front
The fact is that we have a housing shortage and demand continues to exceed supply…by quite some margin. This is a policy problem. A Government problem. And 2022 was a helter skelter of a year politically, where much was talked about but very little progress was made.
On the contrary, the disastrous Kwarteng mini-budget with its unfunded tax cuts so spooked the markets that it sent the mortgage market out of control with hundreds of products being removed from the shelves.
The ensuing furore brought an end to Trussonomics and suddenly everyone wanted stability. It came in the shape of Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt. We’re already seeing signs that the ship is steadying in the water and even though we might be in for another base rate rise next month, it is possible that inflation could be down significantly by the summer. In fact Bank of England Governor, Andrew Bailey has gone on record to say that he believes it may have already peaked. Nothing upsets the property market more than uncertainty, and nothing settles it faster than predictability. So ‘steady as she goes through choppy waters, Mr Hunt. Calmer seas lie full ahead!’
Whether the residential property sector will get any specific help from policy makers in 2023 remains doubtful. The sweeping changes to planning law so often talked about by the radical voices of yesteryear, seem to have faded. And with Mr Sunak increasingly nervous about upsetting his backbench colleagues, the target to build 300,000 new homes a year has been downgraded to an advisory guidance in the forthcoming Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. There are some proposed changes to the planning system like further protections to the Green Belt and further development of Brownfield sites, but planning is one of those policy areas that hits a nerve with politicians – particularly Conservative politicians. It will be interesting to see what emerges after the Bill has passed through the various Parliamentary stages.
But I get the general feeling that Housing may be slipping down the political agenda. Rishi Sunak has outlined his five priorities for Government….and Housing was notable by its absence.
Finally, lets turn our attention to one of my favourite topics, PropTech. The last few years has seen a surge in innovation with new tools and applications. Property has become a Tech-driven sector transforming the way we run our businesses from automated rental payment systems to technologies designed to help us towards sustainability.
We launched New ValPal in December – an upgrade on our online valuation tool which was one of the first tech innovations back in the day. If I was asked what’s coming next I’d be guessing but I might get a bit more of a clue at the London PropTech Show, which is coming to the Business Design Centre next month. If we’re going to stay ahead of the game in the months and years to come, we all have to embrace the benefits that technology can bring. PropTech is growing at a record pace – let’s not be left behind.
Until next time….
*Nat Daniels is CEO of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.