Driving through the picturesque village of Milton Abbas in Dorset on Sunday, I was slightly shocked to see no fewer than ten For Sale boards on the main street alone.
I drive around there a lot as I live nearby and this is unprecedented, so it got me thinking about what’s going on in the market.
Usually when you see so much for sale it’s because owners start to think the market has topped out and all rush for the exit, but I’m not sure that’s the case here.
These houses tend to be trophies and are often thought of by politicians, of both a national and local hue, to be financial piggy banks attached to the property market.
Owners buy and spend big in the local economy, contribute in the form of council tax, and pay into the national Stamp Duty coffers.
This issue is obviously not limited to rural hotspots like Dorset but the effect it’s creating via a series of concerns, political and financial, is very clearly causing problems.
Agents on the buying side haven’t had it this good for quite some time and commentators in that market will happily seize on any bad news they can to drive better deals for their clients.
We’ve been here before – indeed those of my vintage more than once – but somehow the horizon at the moment looks particularly bleak.
Given the importance and top-down nature of the upper end of the property market – choke the top end and it affects everyone – it would seem vital to me that Philip Hammond, in his upcoming Budget, does at least something to encourage wealthy people to stay engaged with the property market.
Just because the take from SDLT is rising – helped by more swingeing surcharges on those supplying stock to the PRS market – it doesn’t mean it’s a worthwhile tax and that it’s not negatively affecting sentiment.
A weak pound and rebounding EU doesn’t look set to revitalise London any time soon.
Some good news for those seeking to buy and spend would be welcome.