Results from our property survey

Thank you to all that completed our Property Market Perceptions Survey last month. We had responses from Surrey to Yorkshire and the Lleyn Peninsula to Essex, although the vast majority were from our Chester Office areas of Cheshire, Lancashire, Manchester, North Wales and Shropshire.

To begin with, we asked four general questions about market perception during the main part of the Covid pandemic and immediately after (beginning 2020 to Summer 2022). The majority of people were aware that the market at this time had been 'very busy/busy' (86%) which was entirely correct with 81% of people noticing prices going up “significantly” - again true. However, we were interested to see if respondents were aware of the change in the market since September 2022, with the twin impacts of the increase in mortgage rates and Liz Truss’s government’s economic policies.

Above: Hannah Owen, winner of a bottle of champange!

Interestingly, 53% of respondents, believed that the market continued to be 'very busy' or 'busy', whereas 47% realised that the market had changed and had become “quiet” or “stable”, which is more accurate. Furthermore, when asked what had happened to prices in that time, the vast majority believed prices have either 'stayed the same' or gone up (85%) – this is definitely not what we are seeing – with most new listings on Rightmove being reduced, rather than actually being new to the market.

Next, we wanted to gauge respondents’ plans when it comes to selling/buying. 39% of respondents were planning a move but are now delaying it for between a few months to two years. 42% of respondents have no plans to move at all in the next five years. The remainder were moving but their sale had hit the buffers and they were staying put, or their sale/purchase was continuing without disruption.

We moved on to looking at why people had made these decisions, here, the biggest influence was mortgage rates going up, with 25.5% of people stating this was their main concern. House prices being too high, but also the fear of fall, contrastingly, made up a figure of 42%. The next biggest factor was lack of supply at 16% with other answers garnering a few responses, but nothing to report on conclusively.

For those considering a move within the next two years, the two primary motivators were unsurprising and came out both at exactly the same figure of 23% - moving up the housing ladder and retirement/change of lifestyle. Again, the other answers received a few takers, but nothing dramatic to report on.

We then asked what needed to change for respondents to consider a move in the next year (two answers were allowed). This was pretty even – with supply needing to increase, mortgage rates needing to become more stable and prices needing to fall, all receiving between 27% and 33%.

When we asked what you think will happen to the property market over the next year, the majority felt that prices would fall (43%) with prices staying stable coming in second at 31%. We believe this is a pretty accurate assessment.

Housing supply was our next question, with the need to support housing associations and local authorities to build social homes and also to provide schemes for key workers and shared ownership receiving 75% support. Again, two answers were allowed so legislation to make it more expensive to buy second homes had the support of 33% of respondents along with 24% wanting more house building and 10% wanting to release green belt land to assist with this.

Lastly, we wanted to know what you thought influenced the housing market (two answers). By far the biggest influence was perceived to be lack of supply with 49% of respondents, next came instability in the mortgage market at 32%, Covid allowing people to work from home at 22.5% and buy to let and second home buyers 26.5%. This is interesting, as we certainly have seen an increase in second home owners but very much a decrease in Buy to Let investors, due to changes in legislation for rental properties and increasing emphasis on tenants’ rights making life more complicated for landlords. So in fact, we have seen Buy to Let landlords sell up – definitely the difference between perception and fact.

All together, we have found the survey really enlightening – as property professionals with many years of experience, it’s easy to assume that everyone we talk to has a feeling for the market and what is going on nationally and locally that affects it. The truth is, while many respondents were correct in their perceptions, this was certainly not universal and this has been a useful lesson for us.