Merry Christmas

Published: 18/12/2023 By ALEX MAILE

It’s only just over a week now until Christmas and then, in the blink of an eye, we’ll be in 2024. It’s been yet another interesting year. We all thought, after Covid, that things would calm down a bit. We couldn’t have been more wrong. In 2022 we had the war in Ukraine, the passing of the Queen, two changes of Prime Minister, a brief financial melt-down and rocketing fuel bills. And this year continued along a similar path, with the spiralling cost of living and ever-rising interest rates to add into the mix.

It meant it was always going to be a challenging year for the property market, and some experts were predicting price falls of as much as 12% (Capital Economics). Fortunately, it has turned out far better than anyone could have expected. The base rate didn’t go nearly as high as was initially feared – to 5.25% rather than 6.5% - and inflation, which started the year in double digits (10.1%), came down to 4.6% and is likely to continue coming down. Together, they have provided a serious boost to buyers’ confidence. And, although the various indices are showing house prices are down on an annual basis, they are only down by between 1% and 3%. Better still, mortgage costs are starting to fall significantly. Many brokers are now predicting the best five-year fixed rates could dip as low as 4% in the coming weeks, providing yet more encouragement to those who’d been sitting on the fence to get busy in 2024.

The rental market, in contrast, has behaved very much as predicted, with substantial price rises and demand far outstripping supply. This year, the average rent has gone up by 8.9% to £1,279pcm. In London, it has gone up by 8.1% to £2,174pcm. Coming on the back of a 10.8% rise in 2022, affordability has been stretched to its very limits. Hopefully, moving forward, the reducing cost of buy-to-let mortgages and the indefinite delay to the requirement to upgrade all rental properties to an EPC C rating will alleviate some of the pressure on landlords to raise rents.

Well, that about wraps it up for 2023, but, next month, I’ll be taking a look at what 2024 has in store. In the meantime, don’t forget that over the Christmas period, huge numbers of people will be spending time planning their next house move. In fact, around 51 million people usually visit the portals during the holiday period, reaching a peak on Boxing Day. So, don’t miss out on all those potential renters and buyers. Give us a call and we'll see if we can get you live before the holiday shut-down.

All that remains now is for me to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year and I look forward to seeing you all again in 2024.