Stuart Harris, head of residential in the Cambridge office of national property consultancy Carter Jonas, thanks the summer for the fruitfulness of this past autumn’s housing market.
In an end of summer swell of new instructions, the level of market activity this past autumn which was so keenly anticipated by estate agents was fulfilled.
Confidence is key to the housing market and a number of economic indicators and policies combined during the late summer and early autumn to reinforce the renewed momentum of confidence which originated in the early spring.
House price data continues to chart a rising market with a marked differential between the performance of the eastern, southern and south east regions of the country and some regions of the north and north east –with notable metropolitan pockets of exception in cities and towns such as Leeds, York and Harrogate.
Summer data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on UK house prices in August reported that they had risen to a level above the previous peak of January 2008.
The Bank of England’s ‘Forward Guidance’ strategy published in late summer provided a clarity on interest rates that has done much to allay fears that positive economic data and indicators would be the harbinger of an interest rate hike.
The autumn launch of the second phase of the Government’s Help to Buy initiative gave a confidence boost too. While the first phase of the scheme was restricted to the purchase of brand new homes, the second phase extends to existing properties, to a ceiling of £600,000.
The announcement of the early launch of Phase 2 – originally pegged for January 2014 – caused a degree of froth about a housing ‘bubble’. But concerns about the over-fuelling house prices should be tempered by the fact that the Bank of England’s Finance Policy Committee (FPC) is charged with reviewing the impact of the scheme on an annual basis – as opposed to its previous brief to review after three years.
This autumn –and coming in to the winter – there are, and will continue to be, serious buyers with finance in place and new instructions always generate interest if buyers have been looking for a while but not found a property to suit.
If one purchaser wants a specific property, has finance and is in a position to move to an agreed timescale, it is highly likely that another purchaser is in the same situation. These are people not just overseas buyers – although in the super hot-spot of the Cambridge city market, these are prevalent – nor are they just buyers capitalising on the surging London market but there are also long term renters who are striking before prices rise significantly.
Estate agents will be urging any homeowner who has been biding their time to sell, to capitalise on this season’s positive market vibes.