In housing market terms 2015 could be a contradictory year. In some ways the market is looking healthier than it has for years with more first time buyers than at any time since 2007. Early post-New Year signs are of sustained activity. These factors are clearly a reflection of increased confidence in the economy and higher employment across the UK.
This is very good news. The only cloud on the horizon might be the general election in May. If we thought the Scottish referendum – which for a time had a negative effect on market activity in England and Wales as well as Scotland - was a difficult one to call, the 2015 general election will surely prove to be impossible to forecast. And it is just this sort of uncertainty that markets don’t like. So we may see a slight cooling off in activity levels and transactions the nearer we get to May. But we think that buyers and sellers will want to make a head start on the market and try and make some hard decisions early in the New Year. Certainly these are the clear signs now.
Towards the upper end of the market there will be many with strong and very valid concerns about the introduction of a mansion tax – on top of the added stamp duty for this price sector imposed by the chancellor in his autumn statement. For those selling in and around the £2 million mark the market will be highly sensitive and pricing below this point may be advisable if a quick sale is required. We are not suggesting selling low: simply that sellers should accept that the next few months might not be the perfect time for optimistic or inflated asking prices for properties in a mansion tax entry level bracket.
But for some this will be a period of great opportunity in the property market. Once again, we would urge buyers not to rely on the property portals too heavily. The portals deal in hard data and certainties. Use them as a guide by all means. But the best opportunities often come from uncertainties. To find out about property off-market or for help in discovering that special place or great deal through hard-won local experience then there is nothing better that a good, reputable and knowledgeable high street estate agent like our firm. Come rain, shine or general election Lane & Holmes will be ready with great ideas and sound advice.