What are the property forecasts for 2024 and why should conveyancers care?

It’s true to say that we actually aren’t very good at predicting what’s going to happen to the property market.  But whether we get it right or not doesn’t make much difference because the predictions get picked up by the media and this is where most buyers, sellers and investors get their property market information from.

And the problem with that is these predictions can determine people’s decision to buy, sell or let property and in turn, that determines how many transactions take place in the year, which can impact on how many clients turn to you for help in 2024.

Predictions for 2024
As we speak, the news for 2024 is that the property market should be either the same or slightly better than 2023. That means we expect around 1million to 1.1million transactions and slight price falls of a few or more percent.

Here’s the main forecasts, by region. Some are expected to go up slightly, fall slightly and others not to change that much at all.

Source: https://propertychecklists.co.uk/articles/what-are-the-property-price-and-transaction-forecasts

How do these forecasts affect buyers and sellers?
The ‘core’ movers who move because they have to – death, divorce, debt, getting married or having a baby, will all still move this year, whatever happens to the property market. There will be others who want to sell but may hesitate because they think it’ll be tricky to do so in a depressed market and there will be others that will want to buy but don’t believe they can afford to because of mortgage rate rises, the need for a ‘huge’ deposit or, they are hoping that prices will fall, or worrying that if they buy now, prices will fall and they will purchase at a ‘bad time’.

How can conveyancers help buyers, sellers and investors in the current market?
The first thing that all property professionals can do is to take every opportunity to advise their local community that whatever the property indices – and as a result the media – say about the property market, it doesn’t necessarily apply to their property.

And, looking at property prices up and down the country, now and over time, one thing that stands out is the huge range of price and transaction levels and movements across the regions, towns and cities as well as individual properties on individual streets.

For example, in my latest analysis of property prices for 2023 from the Land Registry, the 30 cities we track show that:

  • Average prices range from £138,529 in Aberdeen to £542,142 in Cambridge, with an average property price across the UK of just under £290,000.
  • Property price growth in October 2023 shows that Croydon saw price falls of 7.1% year on year, whereas Manchester recorded growth of 5.1%.
  • Since the last recession prices in Cambridge have risen by 91.4% while Belfast prices are still 22% down (on average).

One statistic that might surprise you is that despite the huge growth we saw in some property prices during the pandemic, on average, since 2005, only eight out of 30 cities that we track have seen property prices rise more than inflation.

This means that many people who own their own property outright (in excess of 50%) haven’t actually seen a real growth in their property value at all. And, although this doesn’t affect buyers and sellers too badly, this does potentially have implications for those that have invested in property that were hoping to make money.

What’s much more important to buyers, sellers and investors than ‘average’ data which they hear from the media, is understanding their personal property market and this is where conveyancers can help to educate people on what’s happening locally as opposed to national headlines.

What really matters to buyers and sellers
Whatever is happening in the market though, it really doesn’t matter whether prices go up or down year on year. What matters is if people want to move, when did they buy? How much did they pay for the property and how much is it worth now? Will they be able to sell and move to where they want to?

If they are trading up, they are likely to actually benefit from a falling market, if they are trading down, they probably bought a long time ago and the property may be worth a lot more than they bought it for. So, even if they sell it for a bit less than they could have done last year, it shouldn’t matter, what does is that they live in a property and location that meets their needs.

What really matters when deciding whether to buy, sell or invest in property is people’s own personal circumstances and indeed understanding their own ‘personal property market’ and only a local, qualified agent or surveyor can help them work this out.

From a conveyancer’s perspective, what’s worth doing – and I know many companies do this already – is knowing what a seller bought their property for and what they are selling it for, checking they aren’t selling it for a loss, especially after fees are taken into account.

How can the market information we have help conveyancers to target the right clients in 2024?
Over the last few years, we have had a lot more data which is far more helpful than just understanding prices, rents and transactions – at a national level.

For example, Savills predict the following split of buyers and sellers over the next five years, comparing it to the volumes achieved in 2017 to 2019.

This can be really helpful in looking at your own breakdown of buyers and sellers and working out how to expand in the future. For example, if you tend to do a lot of work for investors, it might be worth looking at boosting work with first time buyers, home movers or cash buyers.

According to Zoopla, 40% of people looking to buy a home over the next couple of years are first-time buyers, while upsizers account for a third of would-be buyers in the next two years. If these aren’t currently your core markets and you’d like to expand, it might be worth working out how you can seek more of these clients.

For more information on whether prices are going up or down in your local property market, which properties are selling well to different types of buyers, do chat to your local trusted agents and surveyors as property indices don’t give your clients the information they need to make their property decisions.

For comprehensive forecasts and property price and rent tracking, visit www.propertychecklists.co.uk

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