What’s Happening in the Property Market in August aka Did Anyone Actually Go on Holiday This Year?
I’m not going to write a huge amount this month as, property-wise, it’s been a bit of a slow news month. Nothing particularly shocking has been published or indeed happened, I could have my regular rant about inconsistent property-related reporting in the Press but that’s going to be becoming pretty old hat pretty quickly, so there’s not really a huge amount to report.
As always, I can report things on two fronts: what I am reading is happening and what I actually see happening. August is usually a very slow month because of people being on holiday and generally having other things to do with their time than to buy property or to put their properties on the market. It’s made worse by the fact that it can take several days to get anything finalised with certain firms of solicitors who seem to think nothing of going off on holiday and not leaving a proper hand-over to a colleague who is dealing with the case. All of this makes July and August feel like everything is on ‘go slow’: you just seem to mount up an ever-increasing To Do List which generally consists of ‘Chase X Firm’ and ‘Chase Y Buyer’ who you’ve been chasing for several days.
So, that’s the bigger picture as to why it’s a slow month. However, if it’s a slow month for all of those reasons, goodness knows what it would have been like if those factors hadn’t slowed it down a bit! We’ve had a record month with several properties selling and a record number of new clients signing up with us.
The heartening thing is that properties across the board seem to be selling. Of course, we have ‘sticky’ properties, ones that have been on the market for longer than we would like. However, what’s been lovely to see has been a few that have been on the market for quite a long time selling at long last. I wouldn’t say there’s been a marked improvement in selling conditions or that properties are selling for much higher prices or much faster than they were doing a couple of months ago but generally things do seem to be shifting, even if it sometimes takes a while.
Most of the time the reason for properties not selling is obvious: either they’re a bit unattractive, they’re perfectly attractive but a bit overpriced, or they’re perfectly attractive but slightly niche and appealing to a smaller market (e.g. more modern properties versus traditional Victorian or Georgian properties). Even first time buyer properties seem to have found their level: we’ve seen a few properties within that bracket sell recently that probably would not have sold at pretty much any price 18 months ago. There’s now a body of evidence of sales prices in that property bracket that helps property sellers to accept that that the property is worth slightly less than they would have expected a little over a couple of years ago.
All of which points to a property market that, despite everything, seems to be relatively healthy. You only need to look at the comments at the end of housing-related articles in the Scotsman or The Herald to see that the public, or at least those who feel moved enough to comment on such forums, feel that house prices aren’t fair and that they are totally out of the reach of all but the wealthiest in society. It’s probably getting a bit politicial for me to start commenting on that kind of thing but, for whatever reason and whether or not it’s socially desirable, prices are staying steady and refuse to fall further in Edinburgh and the Lothians at least which is certainly among the healthiest property markets in the UK.
Based on August, which should be a slow month at the best of times, I can’t wait to see what September has to offer. It’s been a while since I’ve said that about any month! I remain very cautious about the longer term health of the UK property market. Nobody knows what the future holds and for how long it will last but I’m glad that we, and home owners, at least have a bit of respite from the unrelenting pessimism and negative press that’s been dominant in the last couple of years.