With Steven Sawyer of Sawyers Estate Agents

HAVING entered 2019, I thought that I would look at some of the predictions for the year, coupled with some of the findings for 2018.

Propertymark (NAEA & ARLA) overview of 2018 with data taken from its members has illustrated that demand was lower than in 2017, though up on a decade (2008) earlier as the whole market emerged from the 2007 recession.

Though maybe in part due to lack of clients registering as new properties can be highlighted instantly on the portals of today, with numerous pictures meaning that some view from the comfort of their lounge without even requesting an internal viewing and do not become part of the statistic.

The housing market's equivalent to window shopping perhaps?

And gone are the days of agents ‘hot box’ of ready clients.

Similarly, the number of properties on agent’s books throughout the year has not changed drastically, though as expected it remains significantly lower than the 2008 figures.

Sales continue to drop, perhaps indicating trends that at the lower end buyers still struggle and many lower end properties are already buy to lets.

Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark comments on the findings: “2018 has been a busy year for the property market, with the Government launching several consultations to address important issues – most notably to regulate the sector, improve the buying and selling process, and address the issue of leaseholds. The housing market has notably slowed, particularly over the last couple of months, which could be a by-product of Brexit uncertainty, as buyers hold off on purchases until the outcome is clear.”

Looking forward to 2019 the predictions are that 43 per cent of estate agents expect prices to drop, due to increased supply and a drop in demand, partly due to the remaining uncertainty over Brexit, though, the knock on effect is that people can tend to stay put and look to renovate or extend, which is not a bad thing for builders and kitchen/bathroom/heating suppliers etc.

More concerning though is that 65 per cent of members think that rental process will continue to rise in 2019 driven by increased demand and a lack of supply.

The main reason is that some landlords are exiting the market due to the increased tax liabilities they face and will continue to face as tax relief is reduced and landlords' costs increase.

After all, the legislation expected in April to ban tenant fees will hit the landlords even more and the agents as valuable income is lost.

The Government would hope that landlords selling their properties would sell to first time buyers, who have previously needed to rent and reduce the imbalance.

However it is not an overnight fix as the landlords affected are mainly those with a portfolio within the 40 per cent and high tax bracket.

The more mature one property landlords remain, as such landlords treat their non-mortgaged investments as offering better secure returns than the current cash in bank offering.

In general, I would agree with the findings.

Though with all predictions, elements of uncertainty and sudden market volatility can and does disrupt things.

Though for better or worse very much depends on which side of the fence you sit.

2019, is no-doubt going to be a challenging year for all parties, though if we all take a fair approach and see things on the other side of the coin, hopefully the year will have no big surprises.