Housing market “slumps”, Stamp Duty Land Tax staying high, the industry being treated like a piggy bank, business rates rising – it’s easy to think it’s all bad news out there.
The public, if they believe all they read and watch, might well think agents are all doing it wrong.
But actually the headlines on house prices are simply a slightly beefed-up seasonal observation.
The tax take on house purchases – artificially inflated by recent 3% surcharges – will surely start to come down (the Daily Mail says it already has, but let’s wait to see more evidence).
Business rates seem to be penalising what the public would like to keep – the high street – whilst rewarding out of town and online practitioners. This may yet become Hammond’s Poll Tax moment.
Whilst the PR assault on high street agents is at an all-time high, nevertheless the vast majority of those needing to move still use the same people they’ve always used.
Sometimes it’s a good thing to recognise what the industry does well rather than constantly focusing on what’s going wrong.
The vast majority of people use their agent with no hassle at all and are happy with the service they get, and they do all this whilst paying pretty much the lowest fees anywhere in the world.
Looking at the medium term, house building is unlikely to satisfy demand or reduce prices, but more building equals more transactions, which is good.
And provided the Government actually DOES consult on the best way to deal with [a few rogue] agents’ tenant fee practices – and like it or not, England is NOT Scotland so don’t compare their markets – there may yet be a decent compromise.
Current housing minister Gavin Barwell seems to have the brain, graft and heft required to cut through the fog.
Overall there’s plenty to feel good about, and spring is round the corner.
Indeed, writing this just a few days ago, I could even con myself it was already here, sitting in my garden in Dorset.
But since then, we have had Storm Doris . . .