Clive Hedges


Published 16 December 2016

It is customary in the final EDP Property supplement of the year to look back at the previous 12 months, comparing the predictions we all made in January with what actually happened, writes Clive Hedges

But if there is one clear trend about 2016, it is that the year has confounded anyone who tried to gaze into their crystal ball and forecast how things were going to pan out.

Whether it’s a billionaire reality TV host being elected to the White House, a prime minister being brought down by a referendum he didn’t really want, or the Chairman of Norwich City Football Club making the final six in Strictly Come Dancing, 2016 really has been the year of the unexpected.

Of course, when it comes to the property market, economic and political surprises are the last things we want.  Stability is born out of certainty and confidence, and these are two things that are in short supply at the moment.  We enter 2017 in an atmosphere of doubt and indecision, which is making some people reluctant to commit to putting their home on the market.

This is a shame, because the fundamental mismatch between supply and demand remains an enduring feature of the market.  There are plenty of buyers who want to buy, and not enough sellers willing to put their homes up for sale.

But if vendors are awaiting certainty, it is not going to appear in the political or economic arena any time soon.  But that does not mean that we can’t predict one thing with confidence: until we start to build enough new homes to meet demand, there will be plenty of potential buyers out there for those who take the plunge and enter the market.

There is little point hesitating (or ‘languishing’ as the marketing jargon has it).  It’s a good time to be selling, and hanging on for a ‘better time’ is likely to be a fool’s errand.

Of course, one thing which is preventing vendors coming to market is the fear that when they do sell, they won’t be able to find their next home due to the lack of supply.  This is where traditional estate agency can really earn its crust. 

Just recently we had a client who had sold, but had nowhere to go.  Our longstanding relationships and knowledge of the market meant that we were able to hit the phones and know where potential vendors were to be found, and we were able to find the ideal home for our client, at the same time as providing the new vendor with a ready-to-move buyer. 

Try doing that on a website – it requires real people with the knowledge, experience and relationships to apply the human touch.

It was the late Robin Williams in the film Dead Poets Society who taught most of us the phrase carpe diem – seize the day.  It’s a motto I would urge every hesitating vendor to adopt as we move into a new year.

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