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Spring bounce delayed by Brexit fears?

Not so we say, with an increase in sales

The start of the busy spring market is on hold in some parts of the country, with the average price of property coming to market rising by just 0.4% (£1,287) this month. This is the lowest average monthly rise at this time of year since 2011, considerably lower than the 0.9% average over the last seven years. With the number of sales agreed by estate agents also falling below this time last year, Brexit uncertainty has, in many areas, delayed the usual spring bounce.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove Director and Housing Market Analyst commented last week: “While March marks the start of spring, temperatures have yet to rise in the housing market. Buying activity remains cooler than usual, with hesitation as some buyers await a more settled political climate. There’s greater resilience the further away you get from the London market, and there’s a sound bedrock of demand for the right property at the right price, reinforced by ongoing housing needs combined with cheap mortgage borrowing.”

As the clock ticks down towards the Brexit deadline, it is natural human behaviour for more buyers to hesitate. The number of sales agreed by estate agents in February was 7% below the same period in 2018, compared with a year-on-year fall of 4% recorded in January. However, search activity on Rightmove remains steady, with the number of visits to the website staying level in the year-to-date. This indicates that home-movers are keeping a watching brief which could lead to an eventual bounce when the uncertainty abates.

Miles Shipside added: “The closer you get to the wire without the clarity of an agreed way forward, the greater the propensity for buyers to wait and see rather than acting now. This could be a temporary pause, and indeed market slowdowns at election time and around the original referendum result bounced back pretty quickly. Markets and people do not like uncertainty, though while sales agreed numbers are down by 7%, that means they are still running at 93% of last year’s levels. Most potential buyers are getting on with their lives or seeing a price lull as an opportunity to get onto the housing ladder or move to the next rung, with average national asking prices being 0.8% cheaper than a year ago.”

Even though some buyers we talk to have adopted a wait-and-see approach, Wilsons have experienced a busy start to the year, with an increase in sales agreed throughout January, February and into March, compared to last year. This indicates pent up demand and suggests that prices are at a level that buyers are comfortable buying. We can reliably report that properly priced property will sell quickly, often within just a few days of coming on to the market. This bucks the national trend and must bode well for sellers in the Taunton area.

By Chris Willey

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