Nick Churton of Mayfair Office looks ahead to the second half of 2008 in the property market.
"No report on the residential property market in 2008 could dismiss the real problems that there are in the market, principally because of a dearth of transactions brought on by the parlous position of the banks and building societies.
But the alarming headlines in the newspapers mask the real fact that in many ways and for many people it has to be business as usual. This is because in spite of an economic downturn life goes on as usual. People will still have important reasons to buy or sell property. There are the happy reasons such as young people striking out on their own, marriages and births, there are business reasons like a change of job location, and there are the not-so-happy reasons such as redundancy, divorce or a death in the family. These are all factors that the economic situation, however worrying, can’t alter. It’s true that aspirational and no-need movers and those entering the buy-to-let market bandwagon are in the main sitting on their hands. But elsewhere there certainly is underlying market activity.
Prices, even in the most sought after of areas, are correcting and we will see more correction as this market cycle period continues. But - and this is often hard for house sellers to appreciate in a falling market - most things in property are relative. The property one may be interested in buying is falling in value at just the same percentage rate as the property one is selling. There will be a financial discrepancy when the move is to a much smaller property but by and large the amounts should not make too much difference.
Unless one is selling a property and not buying another or trading down significantly there are few reasons not to move at the moment. In fact there are many reasons why it may be a good thing. Firstly there is so much choice. It is hard to think of a time in the last decade when there has been so much opportunity in the market.
Houses are a bit like policemen. There is never one around when you want one. Well, now is a good time to find that dream home. The tricky bit is selling. But even here there are good signs. What the press headlines don’t mention is that there are buyers, and that if property is priced correctly and the buyer is not looking for an impossible loan-to-value mortgage then there is every reason to be very optimistic.
The market, lacking its feel-good buyers, may be down by half from last year but that does not mean that the market is dead - far from it. It is in fact brisk for those determined to make the move.
Property is not selling itself. It takes a great deal of skill and dedication by an experienced estate agent to piece together deals in such a challenging market. But that is the key. This is no place for the inexperienced. This market needs both seller and buyer to be flexible and an estate agent to be very aware of every opportunity to create a deal that works for both sides.
Everyone wants to get the most for their property and most of us want an uncomplicated sale in the shortest time possible. In this market sellers will certainly have to restructure these aspirations. But there really is no reason to think that buying and selling in this market is unfeasible. It certainly is not. In the end it may be better to get on with life. Like time and tide that wait for no man, they never wait for economic conditions to be perfect either. "