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So! Here we are, at last – 2017!
Well, 2016 was a topsy-turvy year, alright; we said a fond farewell to David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Andrew Sachs…. amongst many others. We saw the UK vote for Brexit; we saw England crash out of the Euros in the Group Stages; we saw a Billionaire Tycoon and Reality TV Star with no political experience win the election to be the next President of the United States of America…
Sorry, I’m trying to think of some good things that happened too… Oh yes! Team GB finished second in the medals table at both the Olympics and Paralympics, and Andy Murray became World Number 1! I’m sure there was some other good stuff in there too. Somewhere.
As for the property market, we saw some changes. On April 1st, stamp duty increased for second purchases, adding an extra 3% levy on top of what would already normally be due. This means that for people purchasing a buy to let property at £250,000, their stamp duty would have been £2,500 on March 31st and before, compared to £10,000 on April 1st and since. Quite a change, right? And of course in a place like Oxford purchases higher than £250,000 are very much the norm.
The number of Buy-To-Let transactions going through certainly have reduced, which was absolutely the intention; however, our own experience is that it opened the door for more general residential buyers to compete in that market place, including First Timers (also the intention). Good access to credit meant that mortgages were not hard to come by, and various incentives and schemes have been around providing help for some who were unable to make that step previously, and this trend will continue.
Then we had the ‘Brexit’ debacle – sorry, I mean, then we had the ‘Brexit’ situation…. Look, I won’t harp on. Safe to say, I am unquestionably a ‘BRemainer’, and therefore was expecting End of Days when the result didn’t go my way. But, you know what, we lost two sales that first Friday morning ‘as a result of Brexit’, we then resold one of them on Saturday, and then on Sunday sold the other at £10,000 higher than first time round. I really can’t claim it has been bad for business... other things, perhaps, but for the property market, I’ve not seen it. We did not experience any drop in sales this year despite both the Stamp Duty change and the Brexit vote happening; in fact we did over 25% more sales in 2016 than in 2015.
So what will 2017 mean for the property market? Well, we think it will be stable overall, and particularly in Oxford. The worst forecast that I have seen (or at least, of the forecasts that I give credence to) was from Savills predicting zero house price growth in 2017 nationally. It’s just my opinion, but I tend to optimistically disagree when it comes to our local market, and expect to see a modest rise in property prices between now and this time next year, around 2%-3%... not as fast as in previous years, but frankly there’s a lot to be said for slow and steady to stabilise a marketplace. There is uncertainty around, with Brexit negotiations yet to come, and with global events inevitably affecting our own domestic market. But ultimately, especially here, we have a high demand for housing and a lack of supply meeting that demand, which means that sellers in 2017 can feel encouraged to go ahead, as competition amongst eager buyers with access to credit will keep the market moving steadily forwards.