In our latest guest blog we take a closer look at the housing market courtesy of Jeremy McGivern, an expert in acquiring property in London, the Founder of Mercury Homesearch and the author of ‘The Prime London Property Puzzle’.

It’s suffice to say he knows a thing or two about analysing the property market and so we hand over to him for his observations…

 

It is amazing the rubbish you can read in the press.

I recently gave a talk at The Royal Institution.

One of the key points I made was how journalists, city analysts and economists continually fail to accurately predict what will happen in the market. In the worst instances they can’t even tell you what is actually happening.

For example, here are some quotes from newspaper articles:

2000 – “Housing-market experts, from estate agents on the ground to analysts in the high-rise city banks, are agreed on one thing: this is more than the annual summer slowdown. House-price inflation has dropped considerably and, in some pockets of the capital – usually areas on the fringes of more fashionable addresses – where people were paying silly prices for bad houses, properties are indeed worth up to 10 to 15 per cent less than they were six months ago.” The Daily Telegraph

2001 – “The house price indices are for once agreed: prices are slipping as the effects of recession take hold. Suddenly, the telephone-number price-tags of rather ordinary two-bedroom flats are beginning to look ridiculous.” The Daily Telegraph

2002 – “The top of the property market has been in trouble for some time… Property in some outer London boroughs now changes hands at phenomenal multiples of average local earnings – the prices being pushed up by a relatively small number of people driven out of expensive parts of the city.

In Bromley, for example, house prices are now 10.4 times local earnings” The Daily Telegraph

2003 – “He [Roger Bootle] said: ‘The message is clear. Houses are now so over-valued that a prolonged period of falling prices is on the cards.’ … Some London ‘hot spots’ have already seen prices marked down in recent weeks, which has been attributed to lower City bonuses and Stock Market uncertainties.” The Daily Mail 1st March 2003

2005 – “After five years of unstoppable price rises, the housing market has been showing signs of jitters.” BBC

Of course, the property market exploded higher until mid 2007, which just goes to show that you must not rely on the press for information on the market.

Unfortunately, you cannot rely on many of the so-called experts either. For example, in 2003 Roger Bootle, managing director of Capital Economics and formerly chief economist at HSBC said:

“House prices could fall by as much as 30 per cent over the next four years”

This was one of the Bank of England’s “wise men” who we were all supposed to listen to because he had a better insight than anyone else. But if you had followed his advice you would have missed out on some of the largest house price gains in history.

And this is the problem. None of the city analysts, economists or journalists have studied the history of the UK or London property market, which is why the lengths of the trends confound them and then the sudden crashes surprise them.

Typically the very people who were pessimistic from 1998 to 2005 became optimistic in 2006 citing a “New Paradigm”: we had a “goldilocks economy” and house prices did only go up! Of course, “new paradigm” is just a pompous way of saying “it’s different this time”, a sentence which Sir John Templeton described as the four most dangerous words in investing!

This is why the Queen asked a room full of economists in 2008 “Why did nobody see this coming?”

As it happens I was advising clients in 2005 and 2006 that 2007/2008 would likely be when the market would crash. Why? Because the history of the London property market gives clear indicators and I knew there was an extremely high probability of a crash.

Does this mean that all my predictions are right? Of course not. If you had asked me in 2005 if interest rates would be as low as they are today, I would have laughed in your face. Indeed, I didn’t predict a blanket 3% additional SDLT for investors/second home buyers even though I did predict in January 2015 higher taxes for international investors (if you haven’t read my report The Properties To Avoid Buying in 2015 & 2016 email [email protected] quoting Coreco).

Nevertheless the indicators I use have proven to be far more reliable than those used by city analysts or economists (if you would like to discover how the indicators we use can help you acquire your ideal home or investment on the best terms possible simply email [email protected]).

Indeed most of their reports and analysis are particularly unhelpful anyway as they are far too general. After all what is happening in the £15m+ market will be very different to what is happening in the £750,000-£1.25m market, even in the same area.

Unfortunately the average buyer fails to distinguish between the “noise” generated by the press and what is really happening on the ground. This is one of the many reasons why most buyers make average or poor purchases at the wrong time – they are listening to the wrong information and making decisions based on inaccurate data.

 

If you do wish to contact Jeremy McGivern regarding buying property in London then you can contact him and his team at Mercury Homesearch here or on: +44 (0) 800 389 4280 – say we sent you!

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