Has the Property Market Turned at Last?

By: Greg Manton

It's been a very dull summer this year, not only in the form of the weather but also in the housing market. Indeed, there are very definite signs throughout the UK that the property market is beginning to stall. Many homeowners put their property on the market in May or June hoping to achieve the double whammy of selling quickly and avoiding the production of a Home Information Pack (HIP). But many of those properties are still waiting to attract a buyer and estate agents are now struggling to sell properties in weeks that previously sold within hours.

However, although bad for sellers, this news has now finally given a glimmer of hope for those wishing to get on the property ladder. 'We've entered a buyer's market,' says Lucian Cook, the director of residential research at Savills estate agents. He believes that sellers need to be more realistic about what their properties will sell for and how long it will take.

Supporting that belief, housing market analysts Hometrack point to the significant change in the length of time that properties are taking to sell compared to three months ago. That particular gap in Greater London has shifted from two to three weeks, while the wait in Wales is now three times longer at over nine and a half weeks. According to Hometrack director Richard Donnell, "the froth is coming off the market" and there is a definite downturn in the market in the East Midlands, the north-east and Wales.

However, as with every trend there is the exception that proves the rule, and in this case it is property for sale in Chelsea, London's most expensive borough. Unlike the rest of the UK, property in Chelsea is still being snapped up by eager buyers, fuelling a 32% rise in house prices in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea over the last year. So despite what might be happening in the rest of the UK, if you're looking for property to buy in Chelsea, expect to pay at least the seller's asking price for quite some time to come. Kensington and Chelsea may be immune to the workings of the UK property market at the moment but it may just be lagging behind the general trend.

That trend identifies the beginning of June as the time when interest rate rises finally started to bite, resulting in homes being marketed at prices less than the previous two months, up to 10% lower in the ?500,000 to ?1.5 million range. Sellers are now expecting to negotiate lower prices than advertised and take longer to get a firm offer.

So is all this bad news for anyone wishing to sell property in the UK? Many experts point out that this is not a crash, but the start of a predicted minor 'adjustment'. They expect a recovery in the second half of next year, but whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.

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