Market Update

As we reach the Easter period the residential property market is seemingly ebbing and flowing between signs of optimism and some elements of caution and concern.

Certainly talk of a collapse in house prices seem way off the mark with recent indices showing that prices, whilst down a few percentage points over the last year, remain resilient and, with hopes of reducing interest rates on the near horizon, there are clear signs of positivity around.

Providing some balance to this position are concerns over affordability, particularly amongst the 150,000 mortgage holders whose low fixed rate schemes are ending every month and who are facing significant uplifts in servicing costs.

Interest rates are a huge driver of both sentiment and activity in the property market and with inflation figures falling at a faster rate than forecast (the latest figure was 3.4%) the Bank of England will have to make the judgement call as to when to adjust the base rate (currently 5.25%). They need to balance the desire to get inflation below 2% per annum with providing the incentive for businesses to invest and stimulate economic growth.

In March the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England decided to hold rates at 5.25% but did give a steer that they expected rates to fall with the expectation that this will be in the summer. This will be music to the ears of the Tory Government who are facing the challenge of a General Election later in the year and need all the help they can get if they are to avoid a whitewash at the hands of Labour.

Of course, a looming General Election will, undoubtedly cause some short-term uncertainty in the property market and a change of Government might see this prolonged as we wait to see what policies are introduced and the effect they have on the economy at large.

The private rental sector remains robust but affordability levels are now limiting the seemingly endless upward movement in rental values and landlord concerns about impending future legislation are seeing some exit the market. This, of course, weakens supply and so sees values retained as demand remains strong.

The stalling of rental reform legislation is likely to change with a new Government and this could see the end of section 21 notices (often misleadingly called no fault evictions) and the end of fixed term tenancies. Major changes that should see letting agents and property managers already moving their business models to meet the challenges of a new order where renewals and other elements of existing operations disappear with significant impact on revenues and profitability.

Ove the last year I have worked with many letting agents and property managers in helping them shape their operations differently to maximise performance and returns irrespective of legislative change.

In both lettings and sales, one of the big topics is how to cope and deliver the information required under Trading Standards guidance on upfront material information under Consumer Protection Regulations.

On the face of it this is a positive step forward but there are growing concerns around liability for, and the interpretation of, any information produced and delivered.

My article on PI insurance discusses:  Will upfront material information change estate agency PI insurance requirements? | Integra Property Services (

I am a huge advocate of improving the home buying and selling process but largely through agents and conveyancers and others working better together in a more joined up process that will need greater a alignment of approach, access and sharing of data and co-operation on a level not generally experienced in, what is often, an adversarial process.

Simplistically, we have sellers who want to sell, buyers who want to buy, landlords who want to let and tenants who want to rent yet the industry and Government have inadvertently conspired to make the process more time consuming, expensive and stressful in 2024 than it was twenty five years ago!  

There is a lot of progress going on behind the scenes with various stakeholder groups (I myself am a member of the Home Buying & Selling Group) but it will, in my opinion, require a degree of mandation and a recognition of the commercial opportunity in effecting positive change, for it to become reality.

There are some individual businesses who have become brave innovators and early adopters in the market and I hope they get first mover advantage. Being a fast follower looks a good position but the position will weaken for those who are either early or late members of the majority and especially for those who are the laggards of the sector.

My article on change discusses:  Change is an opportunity to build new strategies for success | Integra Property Services (


Managing Director