Historically, the post Christmas period has always been good for the property market, with many planning to start the new year with a sale or a purchase. Even with that precedent, the news that the number of new sellers putting their house on the market is up nearly 50% on the previous year is a touch of defiance to the naysayers.
While we all wait for the recession to kick in, the mood music around the property market seems quite positive. Experts at the top end of the property market remain optimistic, given how 2022 ended, with plenty of reasons to feel that 2023 will not be the car crash that many were anticipating. There is also evidence that property prices are now maintaining the growth they had shown for so much of recent years, with Rightmove saying asking prices were up by nearly one percent in January, as compared to the previous month.
Off market sales
If 2021 was a good year for off market sales, as the pandemic forced both vendors and buyers to be more creative, 2022 was even better, with some predicting that 2023 could be even better. Previously, this method was known to suit properties at the top end of the market but that is no longer the case. While there remains a strong London influence for this kind of trading, it has become increasingly prevalent all over the UK.
House price growth?
Buyers will be encouraged to go to the market if they think conditions suit. The Halifax Price Index suggests we are over the worst. From September last year – the month of the ill-fated Truss-Kwarteng budget – to the end of the year, house price growth fell. But the rate of the fall was slowing as the year closed out.
The Bank of England will meet on the 2nd of February to discuss what to do with interest rates going forward. As it stands, the base rate is 3.5%, the highest it has been for 14 years.
There is a feeling that with inflation finally showing signs of slowing – it fell from 11.1 to 10.5% in December – there may not be a need for another rate rise so soon. After that February meeting, the BoE do not meet till the latter stages of March. Which means that buyers and sellers could expect a boom time for the market.
And even if there is another small rise after the February meeting, many lenders have already factored this in, so there is still room for manoeuvre. One other factor to spur buyers is the stamp duty situation, which currently sees first time buyers exempt from paying it on properties up to the value of £425,000, while everyone else will only pay it on properties worth more than £250,000. The chancellor says these favourable conditions will be phased out from 2025 onwards.
So, plenty of reasons to be cautiously optimistic about how this period will play out.