Homeowners are likely to face a difficult final quarter of the year but there could soon be an end to spiralling rents, according to Jonathan Rolande, from the National Association of Property Buyers.
Jonathan explains: “This has been a very challenging year for those working in the property sector and for anyone looking to buy or sell a home. It has been especially hard for first-time buyers and for those who have had to remortgage and have been left with increased repayments.”
He added: “I'd love to say the last few months of the year will see a turnaround in the market. But, we're simply not at that point yet. The one area where I can see a ray of light is for renters. After months and months of soaring rental prices, I do feel we are hitting a point of stabilisation in many regions of the UK.”
These are the areas to watch over the next 100 days:
Wage growth and an increasing oil price will see inflation increasing again or at best, not falling as quickly as hoped. This will put pressure on the Bank of England to increase the base rate. Borrowers would be well-advised to factor in a 0.25% rise before the year is out - although this may be effectively cancelled out by increased competition between banks who will cut lending rates to entice customers.
The number of homes sold has fallen by 20% year-on-year. Bad news for estate agents – and we can expect this trend to worsen. Sales will almost certainly be a full 25% down by the end of the year when seasonal factors and the worsening economic news make buyers and their lenders even more cautious.
The High St
Huge rents for commercial properties are usually paid four times a year, March, June, September and December. For many companies, rent is the highest outgoing after wages and those without cash reserves will struggle to pay. Expect to see more retail casualties on our High Streets as more go into administration.
Estate agencies will be affected by this too and we will inevitably see contractions – those with multiple offices will close expensive or less profitable branches. Those with a large lettings register will be safer, those that just rely on property sales will have seen turnover of 25% or more disappear.
Rents will soon stabilise as we reach the peak affordability threshold. Whilst rent inflation will ease, the shortage of property will worsen as more landlords quit the sector ahead of legislative changes. They will look to get out near the top of the market just as more people who otherwise might have bought will now be looking to rent.
Something few people had heard of a few weeks ago will increasingly become part of our vocabulary. Residential properties will be looked at with suspicion if they were built in the affected era and have flat roofing. Ex-Local Authority homes may well be affected and could well become unmortgageable until they have a clean bill of health. It is too early to say where this is headed but one thing is clear – sadly RAAC will be making headlines for the next 100 days and far beyond.
The fall in transactions has insulated prices from a more severe drop – many who do not have to are simply not slashing prices to sell. However, as the year draws to a close some 500,000 fixed-rate mortgages will end. Over half of these were fixed at rates below 2%. Owners unable or unwilling to maintain a new mortgage at more than three times that level may cut their losses and sell, even at a lower price, driving down values in the area. It seems certain that prices will continue to slide downward, and the pace of the descent will increase during the winter months.
Pressure on developers eased with the recent announcement on water quality and their share price gains reflected this. However, things seem to be returning back down to earth with the realisation that this is a tough market to sell property in. We can expect the mothballing of marginal sites and job losses for front-line employees. However, the higher-end projects that attract cash buyers – often from overseas – seem to be faring better than more standard projects and will continue to be developed.
Jonathan concludes: "Although there are many areas to be concerned about, I do think we should remain optimistic about the market's ability to withstand the challenges ahead. The massive house price crash people predicted hasn't materialised. Yes, prices are falling. But they are dropping as hard as many feared. With a General Election predicted for next October I'd also hope to see the political parties putting property reform right at the centre of their strategy.”