Budget 2011 – Property Market Review

Three headline-grabbing property market announcements immediately loom out of the 2011 Budget:
a) help for first-time buyers
b) closing Stamp Duty tax-avoidance loopholes
c) changes to the planning regime

The first affects potentially 10,000 – not alot in an overall market that, although slow, is still exchanging 600,000 properties per annum.

The second also impinges only on a small minority. Closing of tax-avoidance loopholes may make a bit of difference at the top of the market, but London is likely to remain strong, the announcement was expected. And if you can’t afford to pay your Stamp Duty, the top of the market is probably not for you in any case.

Changes to the planning system are more interesting, and may help create badly needed movement in the property market – but the devil will be in the detail, and nothing’s going to happen fast.

It has been an interesting start to the Year. The London market has opened well, with activity from both buyers and sellers. The Country market is slow but active. And I can see no reason why the Budget won’t do anything but tickle both along.

Markets are about people, and people have to move house – there are now over 2 million properties that might have been expected to change hands over the last 3 or 4 years, which haven’t. Mainly because they haven’t come to the market.

Despite the Cuts, no let-up in the Credit Crunch and European Soverign Debt and banking woes continuing to be forced into the open, properties will be changing hands.

A great many houses are potentially for sale, but not on the market, and there are unlikely to be as many properties openly available for sale as people expect. In many parts of London and the UK there remains a shortage of stock.

However, the suspension of HIPS’s has allowed agents to go back to the time-honoured practice of ‘marketing quietly’ e.g . seeing what interest there may be in a property, without going to the expense of marketing and brochures.

The clever vendors are aggressively marketing their houses with good agents at the right price – a keen, competitive, fair and reasonable price.

And, at the same time, they will proactively get out and into the market to find and secure the property they want to move into.

On the assumption that most people have to buy AND sell a property, it’s a good time to be moving. The market looks likely to remain stable over 2011 – a good year to make a considered and rational move.

James Greenwood

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