Martin Bikhit, MD of Kay & Co comments on property prices, an interest rate rise in May and the prospect of a spring bounce.
When does the end of the winter become the start of spring? For nature-watchers, it is things like snowdrops and new-born lambs that herald the changing of the seasons. In the property world, it is something more prosaic: buyers shaking off the cold weather and starting their house-hunting in earnest. You can almost see the renewed energy on many peoples’ faces.
January is traditionally one of the quietest months, and 2018 has been no exception, as the latest figures from the Halifax illustrate. House prices in the three months to the end of January were actually up by 2.2 per cent compared with the equivalent period a year ago, but in January itself, they fell slightly, by 0.6 per cent.
Yet this is just the normal seasonal activity. And with January behind us, prices stable and mortgage interest still at historic lows despite reports of a rate rise in May, the conditions are in place for a busy spring, both in sales and lettings.
There is still a shortage of quality stock, but buyers are returning to the market, with more people starting to engage in February. In fact, it has been a busy start to the month.
Interestingly, views across our website have already bounced back after Christmas. House-hunters are searching for new properties across Marylebone, Connaught Village and Hyde Park. This is an encouraging start for the housing market and positive for sellers as interest often starts in the online world, then filters through to viewings and offers in the physical world.
For those wishing to sell this spring, pricing remains critical. In 2017, properties in some parts of central London had their prices trimmed by an average of 10 per cent before they were sold, according to the research company LonRes. “People are going in with relatively cheeky offers, and sellers are accepting them,” says Marcus Dixon, Head of Research at LonRes.
Yet for those looking to buy, the signs are looking pretty good. There are reasonably priced properties out there and, with prices widely expected to creep upwards in the months ahead, they will represent an attractive option.
The weather in London at the start of February may have been more reminiscent of the Arctic, than the Mediterranean. But as temperatures rise over the coming months, I am confident that the housing market will follow suit. A spring bounce is looking more likely as more buyers start their next search.
• Martin Bikhit, Managing Director of Kay & Co has more than 20 years’ experience in the prime and super-prime property sectors. Contact Kay & Co estate agents for details of properties for sale or to rent in Marylebone, Bayswater, Paddington, Notting Hill, Mayfair, Fitzrovia, Regents Park, The West End and Paddington (020 7262 2030; Kay & Co).