'The Wolf of Benefit Street' -  February Market Comment

Has the market turned all in favour of sellers? Tony Jamieson of Clarke Gammon Wellers looks at the pros and cons of the market and offers some balanced words of advice.


Could future Conservative policies create a house price bubble? Would a Lib Dem administration levy higher taxes for owners of homes worth over £2m and even more over £5m? Could Ed Balls become the Wolf of Benefit Street? These are all property market questions for the future.


Meanwhile - scream the newspaper headlines - property prices are going through the roof. The BBC's Robert Peston opines nightly on the market, estate agents are short of stock, a flat the size of a sentry box sells in Chelsea for £1m and everyone from the Governor of the Bank of England to the man in the street seems to be talking about the housing market - again. Sellers are crying out 'happy days' as their properties are once again popular with buyers now fearful of missing the boat and being forced to pay more the following month, and even more the month after that.


But are happy days really here again for sellers? Whichever side of the fence you sit - buyer or seller - the market has its checks and balances. If you sell for more you buy for more – sell for less buy for less. It is the way of things. The problem now facing most sellers is not selling but finding a property to buy at an acceptable price.


This is a tricky time in the market. You have to have sold in order to buy, but you can't sell unless you have somewhere to go. Sell early and you might not get as much as you could. Wait until you find somewhere else and the seller isn't interested in you because he or she can find another buyer in a better position.


It seems only a few short months ago we were advising clients how to sell in a moribund market beset with difficulties brought on by impossible lending criteria, high unemployment, buyer inertia and rock bottom confidence. Now we are advising sellers in a buoyant market driven by eager lenders, government schemes, rising employment, busy builders, more first time buyers, canny downsizers, greater GDP and surging confidence.


So it is not all over for sellers. Happy days are not necessarily back because buyers are plentiful. Sellers do not have the whip hand because most sellers are also buyers. Checks and balances, swings and roundabouts - that is what the market is about.


For estate agents who have seen it all before it is just another day in the office. So do yourself a favour. Find an agent who has seen it all before and benefit from all that experience. It will save you a lot of money and a great deal of time. Moving home can and should be an exciting event - but it is far from easy and never cheap! Swings and roundabouts, checks and balances.