While the news is full of pretty bleak stories about inflation, interest rate hikes, and other economic challenges, here’s the real deal: if you’re in the property market—whether you’re buying, selling, renting, or letting—you’ve got to zoom in on the local scene that catches your eye.
The smart move? Have a chat with seasoned professionals who live and breathe this stuff day in and day out, and who truly know what’s what in your specific area.
The Current Landscape
In contrast to the sensationalised headlines, the reality is that the housing market has not undergone a fundamental change and, despite the challenging economic conditions, the housing market stands resilient and is certainly not in free fall.
Propertymark chief executive Nathan Emerson shares his perception of the current landscape: “Despite disappointing national economic news it’s encouraging that the number of valuations for sale conducted per branch has remained steady. And, of course, those coming to the market to sell are most often also looking to buy, which keeps the wheels turning for all.”
At Sims Williams, we support this view. We have offices in Arundel, Bognor-Regis, Chichester and Walberton and cover the beautiful towns and villages across the coastal area between Emsworth and Climping, including parts of the South Downs National Park. All of which, we are delighted to say, are buzzing with activity in both the sales and rental markets. The number of properties listed for sale and those that have been sold, remain more or less consistent month to month.
What has contributed to a change in the property market, is the increase in mortgage rates. Whilst these are predicted to drop by the end of the year, those who could afford to borrow £500,000 on a 3% rate this time a year ago are looking at an additional 2% minimum on their monthly repayments for the same amount now. To put that into perspective, that’s an increase of at least £600 a month over a 35 year term. Not an easy additional amount of money to find every month.
What does this mean? Typically, these buyers are looking to spend less; which will have a knock on effect on house prices.
The market remains volatile so it’s important to keep your eye on the news, and keep your trusted estate agents and mortgage advisors close to support you on your journey and help secure you the best deal moving forwards.
In the last month, rates have moved in the right direction for new borrowers as the full effect of recent lender rate cuts starts to infiltrate the market.
As of Tuesday 29th August 2023, the current average mortgage rate for a five-year fixed, 85% loan-to-value mortgage is 5.36%, down from 6.14% in the last couple of weeks. The lowest rate for this type of mortgage is 5.34%.
Rental market review
Although some landlords have experienced increased mortgage costs, which has resulted in some of them exiting the market, the steady increase in rental figures over the past three years, coupled with an adjustment in selling prices, has meant that yields are strong again. It is quite feasible to obtain a yield of over 5% on a freehold property now and in some cases, yields of between 6% and 7% are being achieved, particularly on flats. Prior to the increase in interest rates, which has precipitated the fall in house prices, it was difficult to obtain a yield of much over 4%.
Void periods are also at an all – time low, with a property typically being empty between tenancies for less than two weeks, on average.
The insatiable demand for rented properties, which often results in multiple applications for the same property, shows no sign of abating and landlords prepared to take a medium to long term view on the property market are still acquiring buy to let houses and flats.
For advice on potential opportunities, please contact your local Sims Williams office for independent, expert advice. We can point new landlords in the right direction about where to buy and also discuss the different management options available. Even experienced landlords need to be informed on upcoming changes in legislation and we are happy to answer any questions.
The Road Ahead
The market is still active, and buyers are still buying. The big difference between now and the same time last year is that it has become a more ‘price sensitive’ market.
Looking back at last summer we saw situations whereby buyers were paying asking prices or in some cases ‘in excess of asking prices’ due to the shortage of supply and the very low cost of borrowing.
Fast forward to Summer 2023 and we are seeing potential buyers showing more caution and looking more at the price they are paying. Building Society Valuers are also being tougher on values, they are wanting more direct comparable evidence to support the prices being paid, in some instances they are ‘down-valuing’ which can have an impact on buyers’ mortgages and often result in renegotiation.
Price is key in any market, but more so just now, with interest rates as they are. Whilst we fully appreciate that it is hard to accept the value of your home may have fallen, it’s fair to say that any onward purchase will have fallen by a similar percentage.