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Archive for February, 2009

Should You Buy Property in 2009?

Monday, February 9th, 2009

The housing market and general economy is still falling, yet the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) has reported that in December 2008 there was a slight increase in activity with potential buyers and sellers tempted into the market, possibly by successive interest rates. There was a rise in both those looking to buy a house and the number of new properties that came on the market. First time buyers, having been priced out of the market for so long, bought 10.8% of the properties sold. In addition, the average number of sales made per agent held steady in December even though this is traditionally a quiet month. Some agents reported a small rise in house prices which the NAEA suggest may indicate that the rate at which prices are falling had slowed in some areas, rather than that the prices had reached a trough. The number of househunters rose from 186 to 200 and the numbers of properties agents had on the books rose from 87 to 100. The number of sales agreed per agent held steady at 6.

However, in comparison, early in January this year the Financial Times had asked the question “Will 2009 be a year to buy property?” and gathered the views of over 50 economists. Over 60% believed that 2009 would not be a good year to buy property, whilst the remaining economists believed that, particularly towards the end of the year, it could be safe to buy a property. There was an interesting mix of views. On the side that believe 2009 will be a year to buy property the reasons given were that buying real assets such as property would be protection against a decline in currency. Interest rates are expected to remain low throughout the year and by the end of 2009, although lending will remain tough, there may be more credit available particularly if the government steps up its intervention. Some economists believe that the market will have bottomed out by the end of 2009 and some buyers will then be enticed back into the market by the combination of low prices and low interest rates.

For those against the idea of buying property in 2009 the key belief is that property prices will remain simply too high in comparison to earnings and credit availability. Some economists expect property prices to continue to fall into 2010 and bottom out during that year – Capital Economics expects prices to fall a further 20%, Global Insight 15% and JPMorgan 10%. However, one economist predicts that the house price falls will continue into 2014. Factors to support the continued falls are ongoing credit restrictions, still stretched affordability, rising unemployment with muted economic growth, and the negative expectations that the market will continue to fall. And of course, with the recession biting potential buyers may delay buying due to fears of their job security.

As a whole there seems no rush to buy property. The country is in recession, 2009 will see huge rises in unemployment, lending is expected to remain constrained and as a result the demand will be low. Of course some people will have to move house due to personal reasons and the desire for home ownership and the personal benefits that owning your own home can bring. Transactions will therefore continue to trickle, but the idea of buying a property as a good investment i.e. the buy-to-let market, is some way off. However, post-recession and in the years following economic recovery we could see another housing boom due to an undersupply of housing, increasingly affordable property and a new, more secure banking system. During 2009 property sold at auctions and those that are in need of repair and renovation will be sold at very low prices and bargains will be easily found. If you buy in 2009, offer low and assume to hold your property for some time.

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