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2018, a review.

2018, a review.

This will probably be my last blog for 2018 so it is a good time to reflect on the year that has gone and look forward to what might happen in 2019.

After a record breaking 2017, we expected 2018 to be about the same. We were very wrong! Roughly speaking, sales prices in Leigh on Sea are down about 5% and the number of transactions are down about 20% compared to last year.

It is difficult to put my finger on exactly why this has happened as there isn’t anything fundamentally different that has happened this year compared to last. There has been a couple of interest rate hikes and the mortgage relief for buy to let investors has been taken away but there haven’t been any major disasters or collapses in the markets to have the sort of impact we have seen in the past.

There is however one major thing that has been all encompassing this year that everyone is talking about and quite frankly getting very bored with. BREXIT! The detail has not been any more forthcoming than it was in 2017 but it seems that the closer we get to actually leaving (maybe) in March next year the more uncertain and cautious people have become.

Personally, I think it is understandable. If you were planning on stretching yourself to increase your mortgage dramatically or make an enormous purchase such as buying a house could you absolutely guarantee that everything will be rosy in the future after we have left the EU?

It is difficult to predict what will happen next year but I think that it will have very little impact on peoples lives. The housing market has reacted like any other market to the uncertainty. I think that whichever way you voted, to leave or remain, most people I speak to now want to just get on with it and this period in limbo is not helping anyone. It seems that once a decision is made then at least we can take a view on it, work out what to do and move on. The not knowing is crippling, making people and businesses panic with indecision and having to predict for who knows what.

The doom mongers for both sides are not helping. People predicting that we will still be at the beck and call of the EU politicians or those who think that we will fall off a cliff and the NHS will collapse overnight are not helping. Companies are having to stock pile huge supplies of medicines, food and all manor of things, as we have no idea if supplies might run out whilst we are in this unpredictable open ended transition period.

I personally am somewhere in the middle. There is obviously going to be a period of upheaval and uncertainty but we are always very resilient and I am sure we will find a way to make things work and carry on regardless. I am pretty confident that next years housing market will see a full recovery and go on further like we all predicted at the beginning of this year.

There are always people that need to move. They might have a job move to this area or to another part of the country. They might want to move for a particular school or they might need a bigger property for an expanding family or possibly downsize to a property more manageable. There are also the people that have been tentatively considering a move that have been watching the market and may be ready to secure a bit of a bargain.

There will be a number of these people that have put off doing anything in 2018 that will either have to do something next year or decide that the types of properties they want are now affordable enough or are at the point where they can’t wait any longer to buy or sell.

This should see an influx of people and property come on to the market. One thing that we always have to deal with here in Leigh on Sea is the lack of supply. We don’t have and probably never will have (unless something dramatic happens with the Salvation Army fields?!) the huge estates of similar properties such as those being built in Rochford or proposed in Benfleet & Rayleigh. In estates like this there are always a number of comparable properties on the market and unfortunately there can be people who are in the situation where they are desperate to move and therefore it can actually drive prices down as potential buyers have the choice of similar properties and will just chose the cheapest.

Because the Leigh housing stock is so diverse and characterful it always seems to appeal. And of course we always have our thriving Broadway, excellent schools, commute in to London and the seafront that will never change regardless of the market conditions, we will also always have a number of people attracted to move to our area, so we are pretty lucky. You may have also recently seen that Leigh on Sea has once again been voted the happiest place in the UK to live by a Rightmove survey. I was interviewed by Look East on the BBC and was more than happy to promote our super little town which I am sure will see an influx of people wanting to move to be closer to me!

I don’t want you all to worry about me though. Yes, 2018 has been difficult for my sales department but as is so often the case when the sales market is depressed the lettings market has thrived. Rental prices and transactions have risen by approximately 5% compared to 2017. Obviously renting is much more immediate than buying and tenants have very different needs to purchasers. There has definitely been a lack of supply for a growing number of tenants that need to rent properties for all types of reasons. Rental properties are rarely on the market for more than a week and with our new online referencing systems prospective tenants can be accepted to move in to a property in under a week!

There is no reason to think that this fast paced market will be any different in 2019. There are more and more people that are opting to rent rather than buy and more and more types of properties being let rather than sold so I predict this area of our business to be booming once again next year.

Another area of our business that we have been concentrating on this year is our block management department. A hugely overlooked part of the property industry where lessees have been taken advantage of for many years with extortionate management & building insurance charges. We are going to be working closely with the lessees and freeholders to ensure value for money together with a face to face service that will be a breath of fresh air for the industry.

In summary, 2018 has been tougher than we expected but probably not as bad as we thought it was going to be in the middle of the year. The lettings business has gone from strength to strength and the block management department is well geared for what we predict will be a bumper year all round in 2019.

It just leaves me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

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