It’s a new year and Nick Churton of Mayfair Office offers some thoughts on the property market and what we should expect in the coming months.
It must be hard for all those long-term home owners, who have benefited so much from the property market's rich bounty over the years, to come to terms with the fact that for some time to come homes won't be the cash cows they have been in the past.
First-time buyers in their twenties and early thirties are perhaps more fortunate. The last time property was surging in value most of this group weren't taking much notice. For many of them what went on during the hours of darkness was more interesting than what went on in the cold light of day.
So, not for them an early step onto the property ladder - as the generation before them had been so keen to do. This older group had had the benefit of received wisdom from the previous two generations. Property was a sure fire winner they were told. Nothing could ever go wrong they were assured. Except it could and it did. So much so that property ownership for young adults of the noughties became something of a pipe dream.
But now it is this very generation who are leading a small recovery in the property market. They have proved property ownership is possible before they are forty, or even thirty, by price adjustment, some careful saving, calling on benevolent parents and even grandparents, or perhaps through shared ownership schemes - all mixed together with a little more money being available at very low interest rates.
In recent years it has become apparent to all generations that property ownership through inheritance is not always a given. Inherited property is a notion last fully understood by the Georgian and Victorian aristocracy who, as life expectancy was a lot less than it is now, didn’t have to take into account the cost of elderly care and its eroding effect on legacies.
Yes, there are hot spots where property values are increasing steeply and money will be made. But this is largely in Central London, buoyed up by foreign investment with some home-grown city/hedge fund bonuses thrown in. We learn that there are now 300,000 property millionaires in the UK today. But again, these are mainly in and around London.
For those living outside the capital, where according to Nationwide an average of £1,500 was sliced off house prices last year, the ripple effect frequently has come to financial aid in the past. But it looks as if there will not be many ripples in the near future. And none at all if foreign investors pack up and go home for any reason. Then the London market may find itself built on sand rather than anything more substantial.
So let's hear it for the younger property generation. They are making the sorts of moves that will help to get the market going - but not for all the same reasons as their parents. This new generation are concentrating on space, style, convenience and the latest home techno-gadgets. If, in the future, the market begins to improve and they receive some capital appreciation then that will be a bonus. But for them there are more important reasons for property ownership than making money, and those are the security and enjoyment of living under their own roofs.