Whichever way you look at it, 2020 is going to a momentous year for the property industry.
After nearly three years of huge challenges including Brexit, stalling property sales in London and the Home Counties, a fluctuating buy-to-let market, huge changes to Stamp Duty and the tenant fees ban, everyone is hoping that this year will be one in which doing business as an estate agency will become just a little bit easier.
Some might call it the ‘Boris bounce’ and this month is already shaping up to be a very busy one as pent-up demand oozes back into the market. But Brexit has a long way to go before it’s ‘done’ despite the political sloganeering, and consumer uncertainty may take a little longer to fully recover.
But what do the UK’s most high-profile estate agency leaders think 2020 will deliver. The Negotiator canvassed them for their thoughts.
Jason Corbett, Director, Country Sales & Lettings, UK Sothebys International Realty.
“Removing ‘what if’ from the narrative and replacing it with the ‘hope’ that we can negotiate well with such a strong majority position in government, must mean that those who have been on pause whilst the question was answered will start to recognise that now, before a big rush and before any growth in the economy pushes interest rates up, must be the best time to buy and to invest,” he says.
“Make no mistake, there will be a rush on in the Spring and prices will rise as confidence returns.”
Guy Gittins, CEO, Chestertons
“A conclusion to Brexit could see the high end London market recover quite quickly as there is considerable unsatisfied buyer demand which has built up over several years,” he says.
“London remains a highly attractive location for international buyers who intend to hold onto properties for the long term. Its transparent property law, clear title on property and haven status are undiminished.”
Gideon Sumption of Stacks Property Search
“One way or another, 2020 will bring some political and economic resolution. Whatever that result is, we will see a rush of buyers and sellers as the bottle neck of pent-up demand is released. Expect a busy year,” he says.
Mike Scott, Chief Property Analyst, Yopa
“Next year is likely to be another difficult year politically as Brexit continues to dominate the agenda, and this is bound to affect the housing market,” he says.
“There may well be a ‘false dawn’ at some point in the year when the issue seems to be settled, which could give a short-term boost to market activity, but this is unlikely to last long.
“On the other hand, the underlying economic factors are still good, with low interest rates, lenders who are keen to lend, low unemployment and rising wages, so we don’t expect any kind of a crash in house prices.”
Paul Clarke, co-founder of new agency Mr & Mrs Clarke
“After a tumultuous end to last year and with many taking a ‘wait and see’ approach due to the election and Brexit, the domestic, national property market is brimming with cautious optimism,” he says.
“January 2020 will likely see ‘would be’ 2019 vendors dipping their toes in and putting their homes on the market, especially pre-Budget in February – we therefore expect positive stock momentum especially in key commuter locations of Birmingham and the West Midlands as well as Manchester and across the North West, which are expected to rise the most due to city regeneration and investment.”
Nicola Thompson, director at Adair Paxton, Leeds
“Certainty in government always increases confidence in the housing market, so the overall Conservative majority in the election is very welcome news.
“A lot of landlords had been considering selling their portfolios under a Labour government, because some of the party’s proposals for the investment and buy to let market, would be potentially being catastrophic for landlords. This also means we’re likely to see renewed interest from investors in 2020.”
Patrick McCutcheon, head of residential at Dacre, Son & Hartley
“Without question there is significant pent up demand and my view, providing clear direction continues in respect of Brexit at the end of January, is that demand will now make itself felt through actual acquisitions; and those purchases will also release a fresh wave of property in to the market place,” he says.
Dominic Agace, CEO of Winkworth
“Stamp duty and affordability remain issues for many but there is also a considerable amount of pent up demand from those who have been awaiting more certainty over the future of the country and which we expect to convert to an increase in activity early next year,” he says.
“This could lead to a price increase in London of around 2-3% but will remain broadly flat elsewhere in the country where prices haven’t seen the levels of reduction experienced in London.
“There is still a way to go for the market to recover, but overall we’re positive following this result and as always, we have confidence in the markets in which we operate.”
Mike Bickerton, Head of UK New Homes at Cushman & Wakefield
“We feel that the compelling nature of the election result will give buyers more confidence in the market going forward. We expect to see a marked increase in activity and sales in the first quarter of 2020. Help To Buy will continue to be a popular choice for many. We anticipate that there will be an influx of sales as purchasers rush to buy before changes to the scheme are implemented in 2021.”
Chris Osmond, Sales Director at JOHNS&CO
“We envisage average capital growth of up to 4% from 2019, bolstered by the relative clarity regarding the UK’s political direction following the election, which has given renewed confidence to buyers.
“That said, the psychology of improved perceived market conditions can lead to a widening in the expectation-gap between buyers and vendors, which could result in a stalemate in conditions.