ASK THE EXPERT


A. Whatever the state of the market, people tend to believe that timing can make all the difference. In fact, this is a bit of a myth. Second-guessing the market isn’t that easy – otherwise we’d all be doing it. So, for all practical purposes, you may as well stop worrying about timing, and simply sell when it suits you.

That said, there is one rather unusual event scheduled for the early part of 2010 which is probably worth trying to avoid. I’m talking about the forthcoming General Election. This must happen at the latest in May, and there are rumours that it could even be as early as March.

Why should you try and avoid it? Well, for the simple reason that historically, elections tend to have something of a depressing effect on the housing market (amongst other things!). Precisely why this should be is not entirely clear, but it is probably due to the added element of uncertainty about the future which they introduce into the normal course of events. In the case of this particular election, that uncertainty is likely to be exacerbated by the widely-held belief that we may well see a change of government. Both buyers and sellers are therefore doubly likely to hold back from making any major decisions until the result of the election – and the consequences of that result – have become clearer.

And talking of the consequences…call me a cynic, but there is a natural tendency, particularly in difficult times like the present, for new governing parties to load all the bad news onto the front end of their administration - and blame their predecessors. You know the sort of thing: “I know we pledged not raise this or that tax, but we didn’t fully appreciate what an utter shambles we would have on our hands until we got a close look at the books!”

So, if I were you, and I wanted to move house in the first half of next year…I would definitely start the ball rolling as soon as possible.