The market has been a challenge over the past 18 months but there are many reasons for optimism as we move into 2010! 2009, starting with a quarterly rise of 4.2% in Q2-2009 according to Hamptons International. By the year-end we expect prices will be up around 13%. This confidence fed through into increased offers this year, up 34% on last year and increased sales agreed, up 42% in the same time frame. The level of competition has been high in 2009, with more buyers registering than any comparative month of 2008. On average there has been a 33% increase in the number of buyers per seller: up to more than 9 buyers for every seller. The Hamptons International forecast is that this ratio will remain significantly above the 2008 level, and more in-line with the ‘normal’ long-term average of 7-8 buyers per seller. With the return of many would-be buyers on the market current stock levels have proved insufficient. Our current instruction-to-sales ratio is 93% underlining that we are still selling virtually all the stock we take on, at an exceptional level. Property stock is currently 20% down on last year, however this should gradually increase during the year as people realise they can achieve a competitive price for their property within a quick turnaround. With increasing stock levels, supply and demand will become less extreme and therefore less pressure on price inflation. We are optimistic that we have seen the worst of the mortgage drought during 2008/9. Given time, rising consumer confidence allied to the end of ‘mortgage rationing’ and increasing job security will bring about a full recovery in the housing market. Without any further macro-economic shocks we expect prices to gain in a low single-figure range 3%-5% in early 2010 before stabilising.
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