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Property Natter - What a difference a year makes

As 2023 trundles towards the buffers and we look forward to our Christmas break, it is something of a seasonal phenomenon that a steady stream of prediction pieces and forecasting features flood our news inboxes.

What’s the verdict on 2024? Opinions may vary but, in general, it’s rather better than it was for 2023.

Just cast your mind back 12 months. Inflation was running at 10.5%, the Bank of England had just increased  base rates half a point to 3.5% and the pound was still recovering from the almighty crash caused by the Truss/Kwarteng mini-budget.


The property market commentators were predicting doom and gloom last December – some believed there would be a crash, many said thousands would be trapped in negative equity and the cost of living crisis would result in mass defaults on mortgage payments.

As we all know, of course, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Of course, 2023 has had its challenges but the market has proved to be extremely resilient.

Sunnier side

In the March Budget this year, the Office for Budget Responsibility was forecasting an almost 10% drop in house prices. And yet the Halifax House Price Index reported in November an annual price fall of just 1%. More encouraging still, house prices actually rose by 0.5% between October and November. Hardly Armageddon.

And just this week, we learned that inflation had dropped once again – this time to 3.9% - largely due to falls in energy and food prices. This was a bigger fall than had been predicted prompting speculation that a cut in the base rate could be on the cards next year earlier than forecast. Swap rates have also been falling which further indicates lower mortgage rates might soon be on the way.

All of this makes me wonder if we are a ‘cup half empty’ kind of nation. Always looking on the bleak side. Or perhaps it’s just that stories about impending disaster appeal more than an editorial line that says ‘things will get back to normal before too long.’

On the sunnier side of the street, the latest RICS UK Residential survey tells us that the year ahead sales expectations are the most positive since January 2022 - that’s nine months before anyone had even dreamed of a Truss Government (except perhaps the lady, herself).

That said, no-one is expecting the property market to be a walk in the park next year but expectations are that things generally will improve.

Well that must be the case because  GetAgent.co.uk, revealed last week the number of estate agents in the UK is actually rising (they clearly didn’t read last year’s papers).

Their research shows that, despite the tough market conditions, the number of estate agents has risen by 1.9% on the year to 24, 965. That’s up from 24,500 in 2022.

The East of England has seen the biggest increase (3.5%), the North East boasts a 2.7% rise and the numbers are up 2.4% in London.

So if you thought hard times might result in less competition, think again. People, it seems, can’t get enough of the property business.

To end on a festive note, congratulations to Newbury Estate Agents, Hillier and Wilson, who entered into the Christmas spirit by mounting a window display featuring Santa’s sleigh complete with reindeer, gifts, sparkling lights and snow-covered trees.

If you missed it on Wednesday’s Estate Agent Today, here’s another opportunity.

 Property Natter - What a difference a year makes                                             

So here it is, Merry Christmas. You’ve been well and truly Sleighed.

Until next year,


If you’ve got a story you’d like me to Natter about, please get in touch at press@angelsmedia.co.uk


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