A decade on
Jackson-Stops & Staff Director of the Cotswolds, David Parris, assesses the state of the housing market a decade after the start of the credit crunch. August 2017 marks a decade since the start of the credit crunch and also a decade since the introduction of the short-lived Home Information Packs. These, for those outside of the industry were, in broad terms, a pre-requisite to marketing a property. The pack contained a lot of the information traditionally assembled after a sale had been agreed and was designed to make the conveyancing process simpler and quicker. It also had the added benefit of sifting out serious sellers to those who wanted to test the market since the packs had to be paid in advance by the seller. In some ways, there is more of a need for these packs or similar than ever; in these lender and solicitor cautious days the road from agreeing a sale to it exchanging is long and tortuous and fraught with difficulty. We used to work on the basis that a sale should go to exchange within a 6-8 week period. We now work on an 8-12 week timescale (although I was involved with a sale a few years back which went to exchange within 24 hours of being agreed!). Buyers are nervous and know they are in a relatively strong position and there is no doubt that the system of buying and selling land in this country is crying out for an overhaul. One downside of the HIP’s is that we do undertake a lot of off-market business which accounts for about 20 per cent of our transactions. These allow the seller to quietly market their property to a number of registered buyers we have and agree a sale quickly providing the required sale price can be reached. There is no doubt that the requirement for a HIP would deter some of these shadow transactions.

Where are we now?

And house prices, 10 years later? One of the latest indices shows UK prices as being around 20 per cent higher than at their 2007 level after falling for a couple of years post financial crash. There are of course regional variations in this and for Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, it feels about right across the complete range of property we transact. As I have said here before, the next 18 months to two years is uncertain but people still have to and want to move and those properties which are not severely compromised and sensibly priced will find a willing buyer out there with or without a HIP.