Like summer itself, the property market lately has proved a flop. Pretty terraced houses that would have been snapped up in the spring sunshine languish on the market. There is a forest of “for sale” boards up, but few that say “sold”; and many people who rushed to sell their homes in late May and June, to avoid paying for a home information pack (they finally become a reality for four-bedroom homes on Wednesday), have yet to get a nibble.
There is one group of people for whom none of this is bad news: indeed, they’re overjoyed.
“We’ve entered a buyer’s market,” says Lucian Cook, director of residential research at Savills, the nationwide estate agency. “It is a turnaround since the beginning of the year: three months ago, it was definitely a seller’s market. The average homeowner is going to have to take a more realistic look at the market this summer.”
Matt Mannall, an associate partner in the Henley office of Knight Frank, another nationwide group, agrees. “For the first time in ages, buyers, especially if they are cash- and chain-free, are in a strong position.”
It is one that they have not been in since 2004, although industry analysts say the signs of a market reversal have been looming for a while. Admittedly, on the wide, tree-lined streets of Ken-sington and Chelsea, house prices have risen by 32% this year, according to Knight Frank; outside prime central London, however, the picture is rather different. Both the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the National Association of Estate Agents report falls in the number of new buyers, who are being put off by rising interest rates, ever higher prices and, lately, the dismal weather. Allied Surveyors, the UK’s largest independent firm of chartered surveyors, says that the market has turned in the past fortnight, and that “it’s more doom than boom”.