I hate to say it but I told you so. Last month I predicted there would be an increase in ‘doom-and-gloom’ property headlines (thanks to key metrics dipping following the peak created by the April hike in stamp duty), and the press did not disappoint:
“Asking prices for homes cut by £25,000 amid property market fears” said the Daily Mail on 9th May.
“Buyers desert property market – can house prices survive?” followed the Mirror on 12th May.
And not to be outdone, “British property market has peaked” screamed the Guardian on the 24th May.
Are the headlines true?
It’s probably too early to tell if the market is softening, especially given the skew in March data. This month’s My Property Consultant Property Index Tracker shows that Nationwide, Halifax and Rightmove are reporting negative house price growth in Greater London compared to last month at -0.1%, -0.8% and -0.3% respectively. But the growth figures for the last 12 months are still a healthy 4.9%, 8.1% and 7.8% respectively, which is hardly alarming. The Office of National Statistics are also showing healthy year-on-year figures, reporting an increase of 9% over the last 12 months.
As expected, there was a substantial drop in property transactions following the rush to buy property last month to beat the stamp duty changes. HMRC reported a dramatic drop of 49% on their seasonally adjusted data from last month and 13% from that of last April. This is one to watch for the next few months, as it should give us a good idea of what is actually going on out there.
Moving from a sellers’, to a buyers’ market?
Interestingly, according to the RICS UK Residential Market Survey, the appetite of UK house buyers has dropped for the first time since March 2015, as uncertainty starts to affect the market. This uncertainty is compounded by the EU referendum and concern over what Brexit might do to house prices. There’s also nervousness around the Bank of England, and a possible interest rate increase, although that doesn’t look to be on the cards for a while yet.
Those of us who are interested in buying property as an investment enjoy this kind of uncertainty. We’ve recently been experiencing a strong sellers’ market, and have had to really hunt out good deals in up-and-coming areas to make the figures stack up.
Market jitters make sellers nervous and that, in turn, brings buyer opportunity. Any uncertainty in the mind of the seller increases the chance of them accepting a competitive offer, especially if they are desperate to sell.
Capitalise on market uncertainty
Buy-to-let investors may be wise to capitalise on this negative market sentiment. Heading towards the summer, it could well be possible to negotiate a purchase price of at least 10% under the asking price. This more than offsets the increase in stamp duty and, as long as you’re prepared to invest for the longer term, you should be able to ride out any market turbulence.
And the fact that rents have been marching upwards at the fastest pace since last autumn (according to Your Move and Reeds Rains), buy-to-let landlords could be heading towards the perfect storm.
Click here to view the My Property Consultant Property Index Tracker – http://myproperty-consultant.london/property-index-tracker/may16/