As we come to the end of what was one of the most turbulent years in property and mortgages ever, it’s time to look back over our shoulder at what happened this year and what it means right now to homeowners and buyers.
2022, a wild ride for anyone in the property world.
Back at the beginning of this year I suspect we all guessed at what would happen in the property world in the coming months with varying levels of, well let’s be honest here, total inaccuracy. Nobody knew what was going to come along and certainly we all expected things to happen that either didn’t appear, did appear but in a totally different way than we thought they would or did exactly the opposite of what they should have done. It was a unusual year to say the least.
When you look back at all the events of the year you see series of ups and downs, many of which we have never seen before and some of which were a little bizarre at times. Here are just a few of the, well, let’s just say ‘more interesting’ incidents out of the many that happened in 2022.
So why did we see such strange times this year?
Well, there was a perfect storm of unique events. As I am sure you remember the government put in place several measures in 2021 designed to boost the housing market in response to the effects of the pandemic. When these were reduced or ended there were dire consequences threatened. We were told that house prices were going to freeze, mortgages were going to be more difficult to obtain and so on. We all braced ourselves for the housing apocalypse and… it didn’t happen. House prices continued to rise and mortgage availability remained good.
After the flurry of sales in 2021, there was a lack of available housing in 2022. Rental prices, combined with the special deals for first time buyers, some fantastic mortgage offers, and the buoyant property market, meant more first-time buyers were looking for homes. The middle of the property ladder had pretty much settled down after the flurry caused by the stamp duty relief as well. As a result, there was a limited number of available properties. That meant sales were fast, and houses were being snapped up in record time.
Interest rates started to rise later in the year in response to inflation and that did lead to a slow down of sales and new mortgages. The war in the Ukraine, Brexit, the cost of covid, the global economic situation and many other factors combined to push the cost of living up and that always reduces the number of people looking to move house. The less motivated sellers and buyers tend to become a little more risk averse in a less friendly economic climate. That said, houses were still selling, and the market continued to move.
Average house prices have soared in 2022 and that means people currently have unexpected equity in their homes. Considering there were dire warnings of prices plateauing in 2022 it turned out the average price of a house in August was around the £315,000 in England, compared to just over £280,000 at the same time in 2021. I don’t know about you, but I think a 35k jump is pretty steep for a plateau.
Then came probably the strangest turn of events of the year. Downing Street became a sort of governmental soap opera. The doings in Westminster and political games are not really our province but it’s clear that the fallout from the recent instability has hit the economy hard. It isn’t worth trying to dress it up, it’s been a shambles at times in Westminster and the impact on house buyers and the mortgage market has been huge. Interest rates are now higher than they have been for years, and houses are not selling as quickly as they used to. We may also be heading into (or actually in) a recession, and it does now look as if house prices are starting to slow down. So, is that the end of the story? Well, maybe not.
What is the state of play right now?
Well first of all, as usual, things are not as bad as you may be seeing in the headlines. As we always tell people when they are looking for a mortgage, the problem with national reporting, is that it is ‘national’. What you see on the news and in headlines is talking about the general situation for thousands of people. You are not thousands of people; you are just the one person with individual requirements. So, if you want the right choices, I suggest don’t pre-judge what your options are and talk to an advisor. The bottom line is that interest rates have driven up the cost of a mortgage, but not as much as you would expect in many cases. The price of houses has not really fallen in any meaningful way, but they haven’t increased for once either. That could mean more options for home buyers because new properties are coming on to the market with steady, predictable pricing. Sellers are also less likely to chance their arm with a higher price in a more stable marketplace. So, from a buyer’s point of view, it’s far from gloom and doom.
The big question – ‘is this the right time for you to buy’.
I suppose the two questions that are uppermost in the minds of buyers now are about price of houses and the cost of mortgages. In both cases the honest answer is that nobody is sure of what will happen next. Interest rates may change, and house prices rises may continue to slow and even drop. However, we said that in early 2022 and many people who didn’t buy then are now looking at a more expensive option. The truth about property is that it is a long game of increasing investment in your house and not a bargain hunt at the local car boot sale. When you are ready to move if you can afford the mortgage, you get a house you want at the right price, and you budget with a safety factor, it is probably never the wrong time to look at moving. Mortgages are still available; houses are still for sale and in a few months’ time the whole situation could be entirely different. Check out your options and see what will work.
In the end it is always about getting the right advice and we will always be open and clear about what is right for you. Sometimes that may well be ‘now is not the right time for you’ and if it isn’t, we will be the first to tell you. The majority of times though we can find a deal that works in your circumstances.
Call us and let’s talk about what is the right thing for you.