Wed 18 Oct 2023
Jeremy Leaf, Principal
House prices have fallen at their fastest pace in the past 12 months, according to Nationwide building society, but what happens next? Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, told This is Money: ‘It is always difficult to say when you are at the bottom (or indeed the top) of any housing market cycle until you have the benefit of hindsight. We have seen plenty of highs and lows, but currently the market is bumping along fairly consistently. Any further falls in pricing are likely to be prompted by further interest and mortgage rate hikes, which are factored in not just by the financial markets but most buyers and sellers. Cash buyers are more dominant in the market as house prices continue to be supported by a shortage of stock and fewer, but more serious, buyers as part of a two-tier market. This is why we don’t expect to see a house-price crash, even if prices do soften further.’ He added in The Express: ‘It’s hard to predict what will happen with prices as markets change so quickly in terms of demand and types of supply, which impacts values. The market’s showing considerable resilience, but if there is a low point it will probably be after the usual autumn uplift, maybe in November or December.'
The Halifax house price index tells a similar story. Jeremy Leaf told The Guardian: ‘Prices continue to soften although they are supported to a degree by the shortage of stock and fewer but more serious buyers. With so many rate rises, affordability is a concern, especially for those on tighter budgets, often buying smaller properties so the market remains price sensitive. The penny has dropped for the majority of sellers who are recognising that they may not achieve what they originally anticipated.’ He explained further in The Evening Standard: 'As many sellers are also buyers, they realise that although they may have to accept less than they initially wanted for their property, they will also have to pay less for their next home which is significant as many will be trading up.’
The latest RICS survey suggests that buyer demand and agreed sales continue to fall sharply in the face of an uptick in mortgage rates. Jeremy Leaf told This is Money: ‘What we have been finding on the ground is that fewer but more serious buyers are holding sway, particularly those who are not dependant on mortgage finance and trying to identify the more motivated sellers. There is no doubt either that the recent increased stability in mortgage rates and expectation that we are at, or near, the peak has encouraged some to look at what’s available on the market as those returning from holiday consider selling.'
The Bank of England has held interest rates at 5.25 per cent. Jeremy Leaf told The Evening Standard: ‘Stability is so important to the property market and brings confidence to buyers and sellers sitting on the fence finding it difficult to budget before deciding to make their moves. This hold, after many months of rises, will bring some welcome reassurance… It does show that it is dangerous to make a snap decision based on one month’s figures and then regret it later.'