General elections and the uncertainty surrounding them usually have a dampening effect on the property market but all the signs point to buyers and sellers taking a “business as usual” approach – at least for now. There is also a theory that after the shock outcome of the Brexit vote and Trump triumphing in America, we are becoming desensitised to political maelstroms and are adopting a “keep calm and carry on” attitude. However, that could change the closer we get to polling day on June 8. We asked four Yorkshire estate agents about pre-election jitters, property prices and predictions for their patch.
*Patrick McCutcheon, of Dacre, Son & Hartley, which has offices in North and West Yorkshire, says: “The election is not having a noticeable effect. Prior to the last election and the European referendum, trading only slowed a few days before voting day. It’s probably the result that matters most to the market. In terms of who wins the election, all I will say is that the market likes certainty and it doesn’t like shocks. At the moment, it is reasonably robust. There is good activity across the majority of price sectors, with the upper sectors seeing higher turnover thanks to improved supply.
“Homes priced in the £500,000-£700,000 range are performing especially well,first-time buyers are very active too but are often frustrated by the lack of supply. In terms of price predictions, assuming there are no shocks from the election, I would anticipate growth in property values of five per cent this year.”
Andrew Beadnall, founder of Beadnall Copley estate agents, which has offices in Harrogate, Wetherby and Ripon, says: “There is a lot of activity up to around £700,000. An open viewing at a £400,000 property attracted over 40 people recently. Houses in this price bracket are scarce and this is caused by a lack of stock. This scarcity is creating a lot of demand and is ensuring that prices are not falling. At the top end of the market we have sensed a ‘softening’ and this could well be due to media comment regarding the future performance of the economy.” Andrew believes that as the election campaign progresses, the market will become quieter and possibly more volatile.
“It will only take some prophecy on polling showing a closing of the gap between Conservatives and Labour and there will be a period of fear, which will lead to vendors and buyers saying, ‘we’ll wait to see what happens.’”
As for a Labour victory, he adds: “Without expressing a personal political opinion, there is no doubt that a Labour win will be a nightmare scenario due to the far-left policies they are pursuing. The return of the Conservatives will ensure the status quo remains.” Andrew believes prices in the golden triangle will end the year three per cent up on 2016 if there is a Conservative victory.
Richard Welpton, director of Quick and Clarke, which covers East Yorkshire, says: “The election does not seem to have had a negative effect in our area yet. There seems to be far fewer properties for sale but this may be due to faster transaction times. This lack of stock is pushing prices up in most sectors, with the exception of the very top, which remains fairly sluggish. The lower end of the market and also family houses are doing well.
Richard, who predicts a five per cent rise in prices this year, adds: “I think that if the Conservatives get back in, the market will remain the same, If Labour win there may be a slight pause while sellers wait to see what impact this will have on interest rates.”
Simon Blyth, of Simon Blyth estate agency, which covers West and South Yorkshire, says: “The market is good and that is something we are seeing across all our offices. I think because the outcome of the election seems pretty predictable, it is being seen as fairly trivial.
“Brexit and doing it right is the bigger issue for the property market and I think that’s about having confidence in ourselves to go it alone. If we are confident and it goes well then property prices could go up but we are a long way off a full Brexit and speculation probably isn’t useful at this point in time.”