Do you think the property market has really turned the corner?


A. Not surprisingly, this is the question everyone wants an answer to. And the truth is that things certainly do seem to be looking up.

Now, I know you would probably expect me to say that anyway, but the fact is that whereas last year the picture painted in the media was one of unrelieved gloom, these days the news is a lot better.

Look at just the last few weeks. We’ve had the Halifax reporting that prices in the three months to July rose by 0.8% compared to the previous quarter – the first quarterly increase since October 2007. We’ve had the Council of Mortgage Lenders announcing that loans for house purchase in April-June were 50% up on the preceding 3 months. Rightmove, the UK’s largest property website, revealed that August 6th was the busiest day in traffic terms that it has ever had, with more than 22½ million pages viewed – and this in the heart of the holiday season! And in the very same week, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors revised its prediction on prices from negative to positive, predicting a rise for the year as a whole of between 1 and 2%. Finally, we’ve had another major property website, propertyfinder, reporting that estate agents around the country are seeing prices picking up, the volume of transactions starting to rise, and properties taking less time to sell.

Record levels of buyer interest; increased sales volumes; prices that are starting to edge upward again; more money being lent; homes selling quicker. Put all that together, and I think it’s fair to say that the worst may, just possibly, be over.

Of course, that’s not to say that we’re completely out of the woods yet. It’s going to be a while before we see a return to anything like the slightly crazy market that existed in the first half of the Noughties – if ever. And in the end, perhaps that’s no bad thing. After all, what is really needed is a good, stable market, with price rises that are sensible and sustainable.

And without wanting to be accused of sounding too bullish, I think we’re on our way!