16th December 2019

Residential Property

Well 2019 draws to a close and it seems amazing that it’s twenty years since we were planning to welcome in the new millennium.  So much has happened in that time, and we can hardly say that 2019 was uneventful, certainly from a political point of view.

It is time for our review of the residential property market and we now have the RICS November 2019: UK Residential Market Survey results.  The headline is that both buyer enquiries and new instructions continued to fall, although the pace of decline has eased.  There is an expectation of price growth.

Both buyers and sells are are cautious, with the General Election (now decided, of course) and Brexit weighing on peoples’ minds.  The timing of the election coincides with the run up to Christmas, so any impact of the result will not be felt until the New Year.  Will the Conservative majority result encourage people to enter the market?

New buyer enquiries fell across most of the UK and there was a modest fall in the number of transactions.  Most respondents envisage an improvement in sales volumes in the near future.  However, new instructions fell again and agents are also reporting fewer market appraisals, suggesting little hope of significant new instructions in the early part of 2020.

Nationally house prices have seen a slight fall, but there is a definite weighting to London and the South East.  Price expectations nationally are flat in the short term, but rises are expected over the next twelve months.

The market in our patch, the North West appears to be resilient, with shortage of supply being the main characteristic; demand is out there in most of the region.  It is obviously patchy and much of our work centres round higher value properties and portfolios, which can be different to the regular marketplace.

As regards lettings, the decline in new stock is again causing problems as demand is unabated.  Changes to tax and legislation are forcing private landlords out of the sector, but the number of tenants seeking houses is steady.  Rental growth is predicted.  We have seen some new build to rent schemes in Manchester city centre with some good quality buildings and strong take up from tenants.  However, this does not necessarily address the wider market for family homes and is very much geared towards graduates and young couples seeking a city-based lifestyle.

Sadly our crystal ball is running out of power and needs a rest over Christmas.  Our Christmas wish is for greater housing supply and political certainty. It may well be some time before the markets fully settle down.

Here’s to a quiet Christmas and a prosperous 2020………………..

Graham Bowcock MRICS

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