James Bailey, Chief Executive of Henry & James writes on the implications of taking a proactive approach to property investment before the June 8 election.
Is it really two years since we last voted in a general election? It feels much, much longer. In 2015, as we remember all too well, many people were holding back until the votes were in. That election was too close to call, and with the different parties coming up with different ideas for Britain’s housing policies, it seemed sensible to wait until the dust had settled.
Not this year. An election outcome, which should be a foregone conclusion, is an excellent thing for continuity and stability. I believe Theresa May will still be Prime Minister on June 9. All the indications are that the Conservative manifesto may be light on specific commitments. It is a steady-as-she-goes election, in other words, with little to keep property-owners lying awake at night.
That’s probably why we have been so busy at Henry & James this spring. The calling of the election may have come out of the blue, but it has brought no pre-election jitters in its wake.
In fact, you could say the June general election has already brought greater certainty. With Theresa May returning to Downing Street, we can be sure that we will be pushing ahead with Brexit, whatever exact form that eventually takes. Buyers are already taking a pro-active rather than a reactive approach to property investment, as the election will give the government greater room to negotiate a sensible Brexit deal.
After the shock to the system of the EU vote last June, followed by the fall in the value of the pound, the London property market has remained surprisingly buoyant across Belgravia. House prices in the capital rose by 7.3 per cent in the year to January, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics. There have been slight falls in the past couple of months, but experts are still forecasting a modest rise in values over the course of 2017 and further rises in 2018.
That represents a steady upward trajectory rather than anything that smacks of boom-and-bust. And although much of the market is still feeling the impact of the rises in stamp duty last spring, we are getting a stream of buyers through our doors, who believe that now is the sensible time to buy. It is the state of the general economy, to which the housing market is intimately linked, which gives them confidence.
Growth continues to confound the predictions and, through the fog of the Brexit negotiations, more and more people are starting to see something which to us is self-evident: that in five to ten, years’ time, a prime central London property will remain a valuable asset.
In short, the election will change very little. So why wait until you have cast your vote on June 8 before making your move in the housing market? By then the slower summer season will be creeping in. Act now, whether you are buying or selling.
- James Bailey is the Chief Executive of Henry & James (henryandjames.co.uk).