Housing Market Quiet

Published on 17 February 2004 in , , ,

Looking for somewhere to buy is hard work in London. You need a lot of cash for starters. And then you need to find somewhere you like.

Trouble is, we saw a few good places but were very early in on our looking and weren’t quite sure what we wanted.

We ambly pottered around making lots of notes, seeing lots of places. Some good, some bad. Some indifferent. But it was too early to commit ourselves to anything.

We’ve done our research now – have an idea of what would be good, what we might have to compromise on and all that.

So what happens? The market seems to dry up overnight.

Every estate agent in Tooting and Colliers Wood is the same – virtually nothing to be seen anywhere. The Tooting branch of Ludlow Thompson for example, had about six properties in its window on Saturday – all in the higher end of the market. Next door at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, it’s a similar picture. But two bed rooms? Nothing.

The emails and phone calls from various estate agents have gone – those that bothered to keep in touch anyway. So far only about 50% of the estate agents we’ve been in touch with ever got in touch with us of their own backs (I’ll be publishing the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ list at a later date) but now they’ve literally nothing to sell.

It’s a similar story with Right Move who send out emails when an agent adds a new property (hence why we knew the agencies who weren’t getting in touch). Instead of several emails a week, it’s gone down to about 1 or 2.

And over at Findaproperty.com the number of entries with ‘New Instruction’ labelled next to them has plummeted – swamped instead by constant ‘SOLD’s and ‘UNDER OFFER’.

In fact I can trace back quite easily when it all started going quiet. Ever since the interest rate rise on 5 February, it’s gone completely quiet. Funny, I thought interest rates were supposed to put off buyers, not sellers.

Of course this could be normal February behaviour. Everyone gets property valuations in November, thinks about it in December, puts the property up on the market in January, sold soon after. But if it is, the estate agents don’t seem to be admitting it. The number of leaflets coming in our own letter box inviting us to sell seems to have reached overload levels at the moment, the windows full of ‘Similar properties urgently required’ signs. They’re after business, and they’re not afraid who knows it.

So for now we wait. Patiently wait. And if we see somewhere we like, we’ll have to pounce quickly lest someone else get the same liking for the place.

It’s gonna be a dog eat dog world out there when something does turn up.