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March 2024 – Property Market Comment with Richard

Hot on the heels of a Spring Budget which reflects a cautious approach to economic recovery, with fewer tax cuts than many had expected. Although we are in an election year, we are still recovering from both Brexit and the pandemic, so perhaps this is not surprising, and the budget is likely to have minimal impact on the recovering property market. It is of course good news that the economy is expected to grow and inflation to fall. All of these tend to lead to confidence, which is the bedrock of market stability.

We are now on track to enter the spring market with increasing optimism, especially as there are more properties available for sale – which is good news for buyers as well as those sellers who have been sitting on the fence. In fact, there are about 8% more new listings that have come to market this year than the historical average over the past eight years.

We’re finding that it’s these newer listings that are selling quite readily, primarily because sellers coming to market now recognise that we have moved well beyond the heady days of 2021 and 2022. They’re pricing realistically for sale, so they can move house, which is what it is all about after all.

Buyers are nevertheless feeling empowered, but as mortgage rates remain higher than they would like, with no immediate suggestion that the’ll fall, these buyers are increasingly selective. So they tend to buy the well-priced new listings that compare favourably with those properties that might be going a bit stale on the market. This could be the cause of so many price reductions – old stock having to compete with the new. In fact a national snapshot at the beginning of this month revealed that price reductions are running 42% higher than the eight-year average.

So the takeaway from today is that the market is entering the spring in reasonable shape, but that keen pricing remains critical in the face of stiff competition from other properties for sale, as well as an increasingly discerning pool of buyers who will not hesitate to gazunder (reduce their offer price prior to exchange), if a new-to-market property begins to make their purchase look expensive. With 20-30% of sales arranged falling through nationally, it’s critical to ensure that your agent is exceptionally good at qualifying buyers from the outset. (That’s why most of our sales stick, because it’s not just about agreeing terms, it’s about helping people move – and that’s what we do best!)

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