What is really going on in the housing market?
ASK THE EXPERT
A. You’re right. Whereas throughout last year the picture painted in the media was one of unrelieved gloom, these days the news is a lot more mixed. In just the past few weeks, we’ve had woeful tales of negative equity (courtesy of the Land Registry) appearing almost side by side with upbeat reports about growing buyer activity, increasing sales and rising prices (from the Halifax and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). Recently, the national press have even been getting excited about the apparent return of gazumping in some areas!
So, where does that leave us?
Well, prices and confidence have certainly both taken a battering over the past year-18 months, and many in the industry are of the view that this process may still has some way to go. There’s also no denying that things are still very tough for aspiring first time buyers looking for a high loan-to-value mortgage deal.
Nevertheless…the very fact that we are now seeing so much good news starting to appear gives credence to the view that the worst may be over – or at least, that the market is close to bottoming out. Anecdotal evidence from around the country that canny investment buyers are returning to the market lends further weight to that assessment.
Of course, that’s not to say that we’re out of the woods yet. It’s going to be a while before we see a return to anything like the market that existed in the first half-dozen years of the century.
And in the end, perhaps that’s no bad thing. After all, most sensible commentators agree that the last thing the property market needs right now is another round of boom and bust. What is needed is a good, stable market where supply and demand are more or less evenly balanced, with price rises that are sensible and sustainable - if unspectacular. Rollercoaster rides may be exciting, but they belong in the fairground!