Don't panic says Tim as the property market starts to change

Many readers will recall Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army telling his colleagues “Don’t panic, Don’t panic”. Meanwhile those around him, including the inimitable Captain Mainwaring remained remarkably calm, as did the dubious Corporal Walker, saying “We’re not panicking”. I expect this is the mantra that all estate agents will have been telling buyers and sellers alike over the last fortnight following the recent mini budget.

While some commentators have been quick to predict the demise of the housing market, I do not subscribe to this view.

Rather than Corporal Jones’ excitable instructions, my mind goes back to October 2020 when I stated in this column that the slogan "keep calm and carry on” was most appropriate.

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Had I predicted then what has subsequently happened to the residential property market in the meantime, I fear my comments would’ve been ridiculed.

However, subsequent government intervention to stimulate the housing market post lockdown, via the stamp duty holiday, underwritten by low interest rates, did work.

In fact, the market bounce that we have all experienced over the last 12–18 months did get out of control in a manner that no-one predicted nor envisaged.

So maybe a more normal market is what we all need and perhaps that is where we are, and should be, heading in the short term.

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History tells us that a bear housing market often follows a bull market. Some call it a correction, for some it’s a downturn and others use more dramatic words such as collapse and panic together with general doom and gloom, all of which soon grab the headlines.

I believe the residential housing market, with all its associated beneficiaries, from homeowners to lenders, builders to agents, trades to conveyancers, collectively have the ability and wish to keep the market functioning in a sensible and effective fashion once the current hysteria has settled down.

Sadly, some owners may be forced to sell for financial reasons, equally there will be buyers who have to withdraw from planned purchases for similar reasons but I perceive they will be the exceptions not the norm.

Others might lack the confidence or ability to progress their home owning plans soon, but surely for many this will not be a long-term decision or wish.

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One economist implied a few days ago that the housing market could drop of a cliff and in short order, though I don’t recall if he was the same individual who made a similar statement in April 2020.

Do I think the same will happen? No and not because I have a vested interest.

History has also shown how resilient the UK housing market has been over many decades, despite a few ups and downs along the way.

There is no doubt that for some, property in recent years has been a route to a swift tax-free profit and whether that has been by design or simply good luck is another matter.

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However, homeownership should not be considered as an asset for short-term trading, unlike stocks and shares, and that is why I still have a fundamental belief in another adage, namely “safe as houses”.

And finally, as mentioned briefly in the Property Post last week, eagle eyed readers may have noticed that I have moved to pastures new to continue a career that remains as fascinating as the first day I started.

*Tim Waring FRICS, Prime Residential, GSC Gray. Email: [email protected]