06 February

Ditch the Compass

Nick Churton of Mayfair Office points the right way through the new year property market maze.

There are areas of the British Isles, such as loftier parts of the Isle of Skye, where a compass doesn’t work. This anomaly is due to the local geology – a hard, abrasive, magnetic rock called gabbro. Not being able to trust one’s compass is always unnerving - and potentially dangerous.

At the moment the property market is like an untrustworthy compass. The needle should point accurately; instead it is going round and round, making the public uncertain about the correct way to go. Many people are faced with the rotating needle of conflicting information from the press and social media. Some commentators point to falling values, while others disagree. Headlines scream that higher mortgage rates will make it difficult for first time buyers, buy-to-let investors will be selling up en masse, or that in a few short months we will be in a pre-banking crisis, pre-Brexit and pre-pandemic property market Utopia.

It’s challenging for most to know which way to go. Should one hold off buying or selling in the hope of a better market? But buyers and sellers will be piling in by then, which could mean losing the advantage of bold action now.

The answer to all these questions is to ignore the confused media compass and find a more reliable pathfinder. Enter the estate agent. You might be astonished to know how much a good and experienced estate agent understands about their local property market. After all, agents’ activities are seen in the main to consist of social media posts, newspaper ads and For Sale and Sold boards. But estate agencies are like icebergs: ninety per cent of what’s going on is unseen.

Author, Malcolm Gladwell, suggested it takes 10,000 hours (or approximately ten years) of deliberate practice to become an expert in anything. Over ten years a good estate agent will have marketed, agreed the sales and seen through to completion thousands of property deals through markets good and bad, economies booming and busting, in spring, summer, autumn and winter. These property experts will have also helped families move during the good and the not so good times in their lives. Over 10,000 hours experienced agents have learnt what to do whatever the market, and they know what to do now.

So, if you want to know what direction is best for you in the prevailing property market, don’t trust a compass; ask an expert.