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  • Mal McCallion

Steady September

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

Talking to dozens of sales agents over the seven days, the story across the country has been one of heads down and 'ploughing on'.

September, of course, is historically the bellwether for the rest of the year. Over recent years, through a pandemic and its aftermath, the quiet August has all-but disappeared as buyers raced to secure properties that were spiralling in value and demand before their eyes.

This year has been different, according to the majority of agents that I've been speaking with. Most of the larger regional ones, with multiple branches, report that for the first time in many years people "actually took the summer off". As potential buyers returned from their holidays, breath was held in head offices, waiting to see if the flat August was followed by a spike in September - which has been more of a uptick.

Blame can be lain firmly at the door of the Bank of England, with its presumed 'final' interest rise of this series being fudged mid-month. As the country got comfortable with the last bump to 5.5%, slightly-better-than-expected inflation figures caused a unconvincing 5-4 split at the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in favour of holding interest rates at 5.25%. I think that this will continue to depress activity, as it leads to continued buyer uncertainty about whether there will be one more rise - fuelled by MPC members cautioning that they were just as confused themselves.

On the plus side, mortgage rates dipped below 5% as lenders sought to attract more of those that were prepared to move - it's not just agents for whom a drop in transactions requires some competitive creativity.

This coming period is likely to continue to challenge good agents to get better. By far the majority of those that I spoke to this week were already looking at 2024 and how they were going to start strong in January. I think that's smart - using the next three months to bed-in market share gains that will pay back in spades when the market comes back.

And it will come back. It always does.

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