Spring Has Come Late
There is a change in the air so Adrian Tod takes a seasonal look at the property market.
It has been a long time coming. The seasons are out of kilter and flowering is very late. But now the climate is warmer. Things are stirring. People feel better. There is a mood of renewal and a fresh start. I speak of course of the property market. It has been a very long winter - about seven years of property winter in market terms. Some people who are new to the property industry have never had experience of working in a burgeoning market. All they know are falling prices, low activity levels and stalemate.
So the market at present must be rather a shock to them. Instead of endless days of waiting for something - anything - to happen, suddenly it is happening. Spring has sprung. In many places around the UK property is coming onto the market in very high numbers. Sales are also on the up.
What has caused this change? Is it governmental involvement and initiatives? Although they probably would like everyone to think so I very much doubt that it is. Rather it is people who have sensed that the time is right for a move - and if not quite as right as it could be, as right as it has been for many a long year.
Governments don't make markets. Indeed it often seems to be the other way round. Confidence makes the property market, which in turn drives so many areas of our economy.
So there are strong signs that the market is more active now than it has been for years. This is led by low interest rates, an increase in lending, more new home starts and a population fed up with property austerity - whilst feeling a bit better about things in general. The younger people in the property market won't know what has hit them. Nor will those home-buyers who wait too long to make a move if this property spring becomes a summer.
But one word of caution. One swallow does not a summer make. We have a little way to go before we can say with full confidence that the market is on a sustained path to recovery. Homeowners can have short memories when their prized asset may once again be rising in value. But we know only too well that property can go down as well as up. This is a time to step forward boldly - but never the less to watch that step carefully. This is not yet the time for sellers to get bullish with their prices, or for buyers to get into anything that might quickly become unaffordable if another cold wind blows.