Property market pessimism could become ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’

Jeremy Prior

Realism, rather than pessimism, about the UK property market could prevent a slump becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, according to the head of Auction House.

Jeremy Prior, the managing director of the auctioneer, observed that despite the testing conditions in which the market has had to operate, it has proved itself to be remarkably resilient in recent months.

“No one is pretending that there aren’t currently challenges out there,” said Prior. The MD admitted that the after-effects of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, rising energy prices, soaring inflation, high mortgage costs and weekly strike activity in recent months have made the prospects for property look daunting.

However, he insisted that are signs of improvement on the horizon.

“Everyone expects inflation to fall as the year progresses, energy costs have recently been following suit and mortgage prices have already become much more affordable,” Prior said.

“Perhaps this is why, according to the Halifax, UK house prices unexpectedly jumped during February.”

Despite a Reuters poll of economists predicting a 0.3% drop, prices actually rose 1.1% month-on-month – which also followed a 0.2% rise in January.

“So, even with media claims about house prices falling off a cliff, they are in fact 2.1% higher than a year ago,” Prior said.

“Granted, these are not huge figures, but the danger is that a continuing stream of negative stories and commentary about the property market may actually help create the very conditions they are trying to predict,” he added.

The Auction House group sold 522 properties in February from 673 offered – a success rate of 77.6% and raising a total of £69,776,663.

“The truth is, Auction House is still managing to successfully sell over three quarters of the properties it offers – which is an amazing statistic considering the undeniable challenges we currently face,” Prior said.

“So quite clearly there is still a very definite market out there for the right property, at the right price, put in front of the right bidders at the right time.”


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