So how is 2011 actually panning out.....

Thursday, January 13, 2011 by Ed Mead

Frankly there wasn’t much appetite or excitement for predicting what might happen in 2011. It’s a mug’s game at the best of times and most of us in the business have been so worn down by the last few months of 2010 that anything would be better. So are the first signs good?

Well it depends again on who you are and what constitutes good. If you’re an estate agent the chances are it’s not looking overly good right now. More of the same grind with no sellers and a frustrated bunch of buyers who have good mortgage offers but nothing to buy.

If you’re a property owner in London chances are you’d be feeling happy with that as the lack of supply is creating the same effect as a strong demand, ie it’s keeping prices up. Indeed for really good quality property this year is looking very good for values.

But is that what the market needs or wants. For all the people jumping up and down delighted at any woes affecting estate agents it’s worth reiterating that estate agents are the bellwethers of the wider economy. If agents are going bust (and they have been, with 40% of individual agents out of work since 2008), and companies likely to this year, then it means the entire industry that depends on property, building, decorating, soft furnishings, surveying, solicitors, movers etc etc are all in trouble. If people aren’t spending on property the chances are they aren’t spending elsewhere. That’s a universal truth whether you like it or not.

So there’s nothing much more to say as it’s early, and things may yet get busier, but if they were going to get busier I’d be seeing more sellers looking to get their properties valued now with a view to taking on the Spring market. I cannot grasp why sellers aren’t going for it with historical low rates for buyers likely to have bottomed out and price gains from the unexpected bounce last year still crystallised, and perhaps looking as if they may slip later this year. Perhaps we’re back in that dreadful spiral that potential sellers can’t find anything and so aren’t bothering to go to the market.

As usual when these situations arise it’s difficult to see who’ll blink first, and with buyers very reluctant to pay the asking prices some desperate agents are putting on property, I think it’ll be sellers who’ll blink and go to the market, the only question is can the cleverer ones avoid a possible lemming like rush later in the year.