With the national media negatively commenting on the housing market weekly, many would be correct in thinking houses aren’t selling and if they are, for rock bottom prices.

First quarter results do show a slower market. Jackson Barrett & Gass have reported an average 17.1% fewer Conveyancing files opened when compared with the combined 2006 and 2007 first quarters.

Sean Barrow, a local solicitor for 30 years says “On first reflection, the results look poor. With the introduction of Home Information Packs, coupled with bad press and poorer financial conditions, some people are being put off, or unable to enter the housing market.”

Despite this slowdown, Jackson Barrett & Gass have opened 7.21% more files in the 2008 first quarter, when compared to 2005. The monthly figure for files opened in 2008 is also a lot more steady than previous years, with an average variance of 11.3%

Sean comments “When you actually look over the last 5 years, the market was always bound to even out. 2007 was a particularly unpredictable year with files opened, sometimes doubling between months. Despite the market having slow down, it has become more steady in caseload volume.

The good news for people involved in the local market, particularly consumers, is that we’ve only seen a 4.3% abortive case figure this year. Our current experience is that most people buying and selling, are serious about doing so.

However, on the ‘flipside’, the same people are using more scrutiny than witnessed in previous years, which is extending the legal formalities.”

So what now for the local property market?

It is important to remember that the underlying factors that support the property market remain: Low unemployment, historically low interest rates and a pent-up demand for houses unless incomes fall dramatically, and/or interest rates rise significantly. The slow down can only be temporary, but we can’t predict for how long.

The injection of liquidity into the banking system appears to be working, and I expect more of the same by the Bank of England. Banks will need to begin to lend again fairly quickly, or their own business will suffer.

Finally, there is so much doom and gloom in the media, its impact will wane, and confidence will return.”


This article appeared in Wilmslow Express Homesearch 22/05/08