Revealed: what Norfolk estate agents think will happen to the property market in 2020
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2019 was a challenging year for some aspects of the property market – but what's in store for the year ahead? Three local estate agents make their predictions.
TIM WICKS, Brown & Co
"It is fair to say that the market in 2019 was challenging, largely due to the number of buyers being lower than in recent years and the lower supply of properties.
"The lower end of the market has fared much better than further up the price ranges and the Help to Buy Scheme has played its part in that.
"The slowdown in the market generally came as no surprise with all that has been going on, particularly through the last quarter with the triple whammy of Christmas, Brexit and a General Election. Thankfully the election result has restored some confidence following months of political uncertainty and we can move forward from here.
"The government has an opportunity in the next budget to implement measures to help stimulate the market further up the price ranges with a change in the level of Stamp Duty but we'll have to wait and see what happens.
"The cost of borrowing remains very low and there are fantastic fixed-rate mortgage deals available so it is still worth exploring a move. I am sure that many people who were thinking of moving in 2019 put their plans on hold because of the uncertainty and this pent up demand could well surface in 2020. New properties coming to the market combined with available properties being reduced to more realistic price levels will undoubtedly stimulate the market.
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"I suspect that prices will remain pretty much as they are with perhaps a little growth as the year progresses. There is a buyer out there for every property and, as it has always been, correct pricing is the key."
JAN HŸTCH, Arnolds Keys
"Like him or not, the 'Boris Bounce' saw stock exchange values of property companies rise by 12pc immediately after the election. FTSE 250 companies have seen 3.5pc growth in their value - literally billions and billions of pounds worth of growth. The Bank of England has reported that they expect something in the region of £400 billion worth of investment money held by UK companies potentially to open the floodgates for a whole lot of investment into the British economy.
"We can also expect public spending to increase next year; predictions are for a 5pc increase in UK house prices, and at least a 5pc increase in turnover. These figures may be conservative.
"The postponed budget is due next month, and I have a message for the Chancellor: there are three main aspects constraining people's ability to move to their next home that need your immediate attention.
"1 - The rate of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) has risen to such a level that it has put a lot of homeowners off moving. The average house price in Norfolk is currently £266,000, and the SDLT sum of £3,300 that you'd need to find to buy this property doesn't sound too outrageous. However, if that person buys their next house at, say £400,000, they would need to find £10,000 in stamp duty, which is a lot from their £266,000 sale receipts. Stamp duty has to be more affordable for the average buyer.
"2 - Help To Buy has been a great success, but is only been available on new-build homes. So a staggering 80pc of all first time buyers have bought brand-new, distorting the market; it has made it very difficult for first-time sellers to sell starter homes into the second-hand market. We have consequently not been able to develop chains of sales as people progress up the housing ladder. Help To Buy should be available for second-hand homes too.
"3 - Taxation rates for property investments are incredibly high. That means some investors are selling because their tax position has changed, reducing available rental properties and inflating rents. Please change this policy, as it is restricting the number of homes available for tenants to rent.
Let's see if he listens - or if he truly is a politician!"
BEN MARCHBANK, Bedfords
"Winston Churchill once wrote, 'No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time'.
I think it is fair to say that 2019 shone a light on the flaws in our parliamentary democracy and none of us were particularly impressed by what we saw beneath that light.
"We saw that a government without a working parliamentary majority cannot adequately govern, we saw unseemly and uncivil political discourse from all sides of the debate and we saw ongoing uncertainty which was bad for our economy generally and, specifically, bad for the housing market across the country.
"Here in East Anglia, we saw a reduction in the volume of activity in the housing market during 2019; that is to say, fewer houses became available for sale and fewer transactions took place, demonstrating that both supply and demand were diminished, and suggesting that a certain type of discretionary seller and buyer decided not to involve themselves in the market.
"But following the General Election, things have changed and it is to be hoped we can now move on; the Election has provided us with a new Parliament and a government with a large working majority, large enough that the Prime Minister should not need to kowtow to fringe elements like the ERG or cosy up to the DUP. As a result, the financial markets have responded positively and the pound is up at the prospect of a sustained period of political stability.
"It is not unreasonable therefore to expect that the housing market will respond in a similarly positive fashion. There is no longer any good reason for those discretionary buyers who sat out 2019 to stay on the sidelines and we continue to enjoy low interest rates, which have traditionally fuelled the property market.
"So perhaps for everyone, politicians, the general public, sellers and buyers, 2020 will prove to be the time to move on?"