Independent estate agents across the Southwest feel optimistic about the housing market in 2024, according to the Experts in Property network, with many of its members reporting a New Year bounce back in activity.
After a period of political turmoil, sky high inflation and amid energy- and cost-of-living crises, the outlook at the beginning of 2023 could only get better... and it did. Over the course of last year, the UK’s political and economic landscape settled a great deal with a considerable drop in the rate of inflation, energy prices moving downward and a rise in pay growth in real terms, easing the pressure for many households.
2023 also saw increased mortgage rates and a dip in housing market activity levels. However, the market is looking extremely positive for 2024. Many, who had been putting off a non-essential home move are now taking action and only a couple of weeks in, healthy green shoots are emerging from the traditionally seasonal pre-Christmas lull.
Christopher Giles, senior sales negotiator at Meyers Estate Agents in Bournemouth says that they’ve had a much better start to this year than last, with more valuations being booked and a diary full of viewing appointments. “With over 80 properties on the market, the interest we’re attracting and viewings we’re conducting, activity levels are now much stronger. All things considered, I see the 2024 market being far busier than last year with steady – that is, no dramatic up or downturn, in prices.”
The vibe is the same in Exeter. Suzanne Collins, sales office manager and sales progressor at Robert Williams Estate Agents in the city, said: “We’ve had a very reassuring start to the New Year with considerable uptake in demand for viewings and valuations compared to the last quarter of 2023.”
Since the start of the year, Rightmove has reported a record level of activity from buyers and selling agents, and the Bank of England has revealed an increase in the level of mortgage approvals, both of which are good indications of a more buoyant housing market ahead.
More poignantly, over the last few days several mainstay mortgage lenders have announced cuts of up to 0.5% in their fixed lending rates – HSBC, Halifax, Barclays and Santander among them. Buyers (including landlords and of course re-mortgagers) also now have a wider choice of mortgage products than for the last 15 years, with both 2- and 5-year fixed rates from around the 4% mark (loan-to-value ratio dependent).
The expectation among specialists is that this lenders’ battle will continue, driving further falls in fixed mortgage rates over the coming weeks and making it an ideal time to secure a deal.
Marcus Wrey, residential manager at Rendells’ Chagford branch, commented: “I don’t think anyone would deny that transactions have been quieter, but there have been encouraging signs over the last couple of months that the right property at the right price can still sell quickly. Moving forward, we are expecting more confidence to return to the market but expect prices to remain fairly subdued in the first half of the year. An upcoming election often breeds a level of uncertainty that can dampen the property market and it is difficult to call at this stage how much of an impact that will have on things.”
The date of the 2024 General Election hasn’t yet been set but is predicted for the Autumn. In the meantime, several economists predict UK inflation will drop to 2% in the next few months, which would give the Bank of England the leeway to cut interest rates; Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England has said that he hopes mortgage rates will keep falling; and in April, the Energy Price Cap is expected to be lowered.
Andrew Simmonds, chairman of the Experts in Property, concluded: “Aside of the general election, which will without a doubt create some ambivalence, all the current and predicted economic factors indicate a stronger housing market in 2024. Our member agencies, as well as my own two branches, are all experiencing a marked upturn in activity since re-opening after Christmas. It’s been a very strange and tumultuous start to the decade for the UK, with all our lives being held back to a degree, but I think this year is going to be the most stable, most positive and most Panglossian yet!”
With more than 60 member branches of the Experts in Property network, there is one near you. All are independent, known and trusted in their local communities and they work together to sell more homes for clients. To find your nearest, look for the logo on your high street or visit www.theexpertsinproperty.co.uk/agents-directory. The web site is the only portal dedicated to homes for sale across the Southwest and currently features almost 3,000 properties, so it’s a great place to start the search for your new home.