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Market Update - October 2017

Date Added 12/10/2017

23 June 2016 was an historic day. This was the day the nation`s electorate voted for the UK to leave the EU.

Inevitably, this caused concern, confusion (and hope) in some quarters, not only within the housing market, but throughout all business in the UK.

At Brearley & Rich, the days, weeks and months that followed produced nothing particularly earth-shattering in terms of any post-vote fall out. In relative terms it was a very soft landing. Enquiries, viewings and sales were steady. The aftermath of the referendum was nothing compared to the tail end of 2007. The banking crisis of 2007/2008 and the subsequent tightening of lending criteria by banks and building societies subdued and re shaped the housing market, although in the last two or three years we have felt a loosening grip and a more fluid mortgage market returning.

Fast forward fifteen months or so and where are we now? In our opinion, the market is slightly less bullish than it was at the beginning of this year and activity has slowed. There are markedly fewer properties coming to market and also fewer buyers registering than earlier in the year. Property in this affluent area of the M4 corridor is clearly very expensive. Prices have risen considerably above the heights of 2007/2008, but salaries in general do not appear to have kept close to this pace. House buying affordability is a long-standing, generational and nationwide problem. First-time buyers in particular are a rare find. Downsizing has also become a common theme for the last few years: not simply among the retirement sector as one might reasonably expect but rather from anyone who wishes to free up equity in their existing home. Otherwise, activity is mainly from those with sufficiently large enough amounts of equity in their existing property to enable them to move up the property ladder.
Rumours that the the Bank of England will soon vote for a gradual rise in the base rate from 0.25%-0.5% have been widely reported recently, as has the news that major lenders have been putting up their fixed rate mortgages.

Is it a good time to buy? I`m afraid we can`t sensibly answer that question, not least as the question comes with so many variables that are unique to each buyer. We feel that the market is certainly not in "free fall" or "broken": however, there is a sense that it is pausing to catch its breath.
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