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Could it be that con­fi­dence is re­turn­ing to the prop­erty mar­ket? CHAR­LOTTE ASHE, con­veyanc­ing ex­ec­u­tive with Rogers & Nor­ton, is see­ing some good signs

EDP Norfolk - - Business -

AS WE ap­proach the end of the year, it would be some­thing of an un­der­state­ment to say that 2016 has been un­prece­dented in its news events. We have seen Team GB break records at the Rio Olympics, Tim Peake re­turn home af­ter six months in space, The Queen turn 90 and The Great Bri­tish Bake Off move to Chan­nel Four. It has cer­tainly been a roller­coaster of a year.

Un­doubt­edly, how­ever, the story that has con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate the press dur­ing 2016 is the ground-break­ing re­sult of the EU Ref­er­en­dum. On June 24, West­min­ster, Bri­tain, Europe and in­deed the world were left in shock as we awoke to the mo­men­tous de­ci­sion that Bri­tain had voted “leave”.

Fol­low­ing the re­sult, the sub­se­quent res­ig­na­tion of David Cameron, the po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity that en­sued and the Bank of Eng­land’s de­ci­sion to cut in­ter­est rates, the im­pact Brexit would have was at the fore­front of ev­ery­one’s minds. The ini­tial pre­dic­tions for the fu­ture of the UK’s mar­kets, in par­tic­u­lar the hous­ing mar­ket, looked bleak. Head­lines proph­e­sised house prices col­laps­ing, a dra­matic fall in trans­ac­tion lev­els and a re­duc­tion in af­ford­able hous­ing. The mes­sage was clear, the prop­erty mar­ket was head­ing for catas­tro­phe!

Four months on and the dust has set­tled. While the di­vorce pro­ceed­ings have not yet for­mally be­gun, the grave pre­dic­tions made in the wake of June’s ref­er­en­dum de­ci­sion have thank­fully not ma­te­ri­alised.

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Es­tate Agents re­ported a 16pc month on month rise in de­mand for prop­er­ties in Septem­ber 2016, bring­ing a re­turn to the lev­els seen in June prior to the Brexit de­ci­sion – this is in ad­di­tion to a rise in the num­ber of recorded sales. They also state just one in 10 es­tate agents has seen sales fall since Brexit, whereas two in five have wit­nessed no change in ac­tiv­ity at all. The Royal In­sti­tute of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors has also re­ported an in­crease in the num­ber of new buy­ers dur­ing Septem­ber.

Mort­gage ap­proval rates rose in Septem­ber which, although lower than ap­proval rates 12 months ago, goes fur­ther to sug­gest the in­creased sta­bil­ity of our hous­ing mar­ket in re­cent months.

House builder Per­sim­mon has re­ported its pri­vate sales rate in the pe­riod was 19pc ahead of last year and that the firm is “fully sold up” for the cur­rent year. We have also seen growth in the UK con­struc­tion in­dus­try hit a seven-month high in Septem­ber.

What this clearly demon­strates is that Bri­tain is bounc­ing back and con­fi­dence lev­els are re­turn­ing fol­low­ing ini­tial anx­i­ety. A re­port by mar­ket an­a­lysts IHS Markit found al­most three-quar­ters of Bri­tish home­own­ers are con­fi­dent that the value of their prop­erty will in­crease in the next year.

While there is still a way to go un­til Bri­tain’s exit from the EU is com­plete, the signs do in­di­cate that although the hous­ing mar­ket is likely to be sub­dued over the next two or three years, growth will con­tinue be­fore re­bound­ing fully by 2020. We can ex­pect many more Brexit dom­i­nated head­lines dur­ing 2017 as Ar­ti­cle 50 is trig­gered and ne­go­ti­a­tions be­gin, but if the prop­erty mar­ket can con­tinue to demon­strate the sta­bil­ity shown dur­ing the sum­mer, the out­look for home­own­ers will be far less bleak than first feared.

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