A WELCOME JANUARY CONFIDENCE BOOST
Published 12 January 2024
Less than two weeks into the new year, and already we are seeing a more confident property market than in recent months, writes Sue Hall.
In the first nine days of January we sold more than one property a day from our coastal hub alone – a very strong start to the year, and indicative of a welcome return of confidence amongst buyers.
Also encouraging is the diversity in types of buyers we have already seen in 2024: local families moving up the property ladder, older couples downsizing, and people relocating to Norfolk from other areas, London and the southeast in particular. Not so much first-time buyers though, about which more in a moment.
We have already seen the first signs of a ‘price war’ amongst mortgage suppliers, with fixed rates of below four per cent available for the first time in many months. That is welcome news for both buyers and owners coming to the end of historically low fixed rate deals.
Alongside the good news on interest rates, we are seeing evidence of an injection of realism amongst buyers and sellers.
The prolonged boom in the market had led to some unrealistically high expectations for some vendors, but the sobering effect of 18 months of a less buoyant market has led to people accepting a more sustainable – ‘normal’, if you like – state of affairs, and those entering the market seem more ready to listen to expert advice rather than be swayed by some of the more hyperbolic comments in the media.
Despite some ill-advised words from Nat West chairman Howard Davies, who last week claimed that it is ‘not that difficult’ for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder, the reality is that for those who don’t have access to the Bank of Mum and Dad, saving enough for a deposit remains hugely difficult, even if mortgage rates are starting to come down.
Because of rising rents, it is not easy for those who are tenants to put aside cash towards a deposit. We are increasingly seeing a split market between such people and those who are able to access support from family, either by living at home rent-free while they save for a deposit, or by getting direct financial help from their parents.
First-time buyers are the catalyst for the whole property market, so it will be important that measures are taken to help them get their foot on the ladder, and we will be watching Jeremy Hunt’s 6th March Budget carefully.
But overall 2024 has already seen a welcome boost in confidence, and the year should be steady and sustainable – two epithets which have been noticeably absent from the market in recent years.
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