SPRING 2024 UPDATE – Just the best time of year, with flowers budding & blooming…

“If you want to make a song more hummy
add a few tiddely poms.”

Winnie the Pooh
A.A. Milne

Happy Sunday, one and all!  

And a Happy St Patrick’s Day too! Well, I do have quite a chunk of Irish blood in me, along with English, and happily cheered Ireland along at the rugby yesterday, much to the chagrin of Sam, who is thoroughly Scottish!  

The fair play in me also liked the fact that Ireland won on the eve of St Patrick’s Day too, which seemed rather appropriate!

And so to property.

After a slow start to 2024, we have found that the market has picked up.  

Well, there are certainly more people viewing at the moment than at the end of 2023, but there does appear to be a reticence to offer. 

 It would appear that we are now in a buyers’ market for the first time in a generation, and buyers know that there isn’t any immediate urgency to offer on any house as it will likely still be there the following day, so are seeing as many properties as possible to ensure they are buying the right one, or indeed that something better won’t come on the following day.  

This is a bit of an unsettling period for sellers who have been used to a fast-moving market.  

There are some utterly ‘trophy’ houses coming on, which would historically sell in one weekend with a bidding war, now having to have thirty or forty viewings before getting an offer, and this is when they are correctly priced and receiving good feedback on the viewing itself.  

Buyers are enjoying having quality stock to choose from, without any urgency to do so in a panic, so are making informed choices.  They can do this knowing that the house is likely to be there the following day, or even week, and they can see several others in a more enjoyably leisurely way. 

Gone are the days of most buyers also being ‘proceedable’ before going to see houses.  Knowing that the market is slower, many are choosing to take their time and find a house to buy before moving to put their property onto the market.  This is almost back to pre-1980s (before the market started racing in the mid/late 1980s). This has also been driven by a shortage of housing stock, so many are concerned about putting their house onto the market and not finding a house to buy when they do secure a buyer.  Rental prices are high and, even with uncertain and fluctuating mortgage rates, it is still often cheaper to stay in their home paying a mortgage than to chain break and go into rented accommodation to await a house to buy.

Whilst we do understand this, there is the flip side of concern that when a house does come onto the market, you might well need to be proceedable to secure it and being in rented accommodation and chain free can still make a buyer a more attractive proposition than one in a chain or even not on the market at all.

I appreciate that this above conflicts, with many waiting to find a house before putting theirs on, vs those needing to be chain free or under offer to secure a property.  

I would add that, if a house comes on that a buyer is really keen on, there is a good chance that someone else will also been similarly keen so they need to be somewhat ready to leap at it.   

One thing we would always advise, if you are seriously considering buying or selling your home.  Before you take that step, please get your home valued by two or three trusted agents (speak to your friends, family and those who have recently sold in the area, and get their feedback on who they used), checking who is selling, rather than simply listing, in your area, and choose who you would like to represent you when / if the day comes to list your home.

Then speak to your mortgage advisor and double check what rates are out there. Please don’t just stick to your current lender!  

If you speak to a mortgage specialist, who works with the whole of market (this would usually be over 90 lenders and over 11000 products) you might well find that your existing lender might not offer the best deal. 

You might even find that your existing lender actually does have a great deal, but not available to those applying directly, as they often offer incentives to mortgage brokers which you might not access if you apply directly.  

Whatever happens, you have nothing to lose by checking before deciding how or where to secure your lending.

Then choose a solicitor to act for you. Again, please speak to those who have bought and sold properties recently to see who they used, and also ask your estate agent who they recommend. Do check whether they are paid or offered incentives to recommend a particular firm (Sam and I never take any referral fees, we just recommend conveyancers or solicitors who do a great job). 

Please also remember, cheap isn’t always best!  A good conveyancer may well charge more than a cheap conveyancing house which makes great promises but actually might not deliver.  It is easy to promise …  (it is worth looking at their 1* or 2* reviews, which might be more honest than some listed as 4* or 5*!).  

Investing that little bit more in a solicitor or conveyancer can actually, in the long run, save you far far more than you might envisage by simply going to the cheapest at the outset.  One analogy I would have is that a jumper from a cheap online store looks the same as one from, say, John Lewis, but after 20 minutes of wearing, or after the first wash, the differences can be more than visible!

Once you know who you may use for each section of your move, even if you are not ready to press the button to go to market, it can take immense pressure off you when the time comes to get the process started.

We don’t immediately see anything changing in the market over the next few months either.  We were all a little hopeful that there might have been a stamp duty incentive within the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, but sadly not to be.  

There was also talk of such, and even talk of an incentive to help the older generation with stamp duty costs to possibly increase a number of larger family homes to the market, but again sadly not to be.  

That aside, we have had some superb houses come onto the market this month, all beautifully presented and photographed and well-priced. It is my favourite time of year for photography as houses can be filled with tulips and daffodils; and gardens are starting to recover from cold wet winters.

The glimpse of sun always makes such a difference when undertaking viewings too, which also helps!!

With regards to house prices?  We appear to remain in a stable market here in Hampshire, with mortgages seeming to move between just under 4% to just over 5%, but certainly not where they were following the Autumn Statement in 2022 thankfully.

That all aside, Sam and I have enjoyed a very good `start to the year.  We have agreed sales on several charming homes, which are moving to exchange within the next few weeks and exchanged and completed on others this year as well, so all is looking encouraging for the springtime ahead. 

We are still finding that more and more clients are turning to us to represent them than the traditional High Street agents.  They attest to preferring our level of service and commitment, and enjoy being one of a few clients, and a more boutique level of service, affording more time to them, and the buyers, which in turn produce a less stressful transaction.  As another client wrote recently:

“Sam and Nony are stars and they are unstoppable. They have developed and present a completely new model of estate agency, a bespoke service they have evolved from their own innovations derived from decades of experience and true dedication.

It’s not just the approach, creativity and innovation that explain their success either it is complimented by being authentic, energetic and hard working, strong even in adversity, and a lovely team who show they care very much for the world of estate agency, for each other and, of course, for their clients.”

From this, we take particular pleasure in the words:

 “ … they care very much for the world of estate agency, 
for each other and, of course, for their clients.”

We could not be more proud of this review, which attests to the service we seek to offer our clients, any why we believe so many more people are turning to us to represent their homes in the ever changing housing market.

As we said in December, it is still difficult to know what will happen in the market in 2024. 

Again, we do not foresee significant changes in pricing, and we also believe that buyers will continue to be cautious on what they are buying and at what level.  

We also have an election likely coming in 2024, and elections historically cause a slowdown in the housing market due to the uncertainty of what might follow, the result of which potentially could impact the stability of the market.  

The same was true in 2019 ahead of the election at that time. 

The market slowed considerably from late summer until the election in mid-December, and once the winning party was elected.

We don’t see it being far different this year, and would not be surprised to see the same again later in 2024, or until we know what each political party vying to win the election has in store for house ownership and tax.  

Uncertain times often affect larger purchases, and home ownership certainly sits in that category.

And to today! 

We have been to see some superb houses over the past month, many of which are currently being prepared for market.  

We try to keep to no more than fifteen available properties at a time to enable us to give the best service, and we are well within that sphere which is good too!  

We never aim to be the biggest agent, with the most stock of property to sell. 

We far prefer to be the smallest agency with the fewest, and simply give the best service we possibly can to our clients.  

So, thank you to all our clients and friends for your support throughout 2023, and your ongoing support in 2024. 

Sam and Nony