The media have gone and done it. They’ve whipped a fair few up into a frenzy. Two mischievous headlines this month - one about recession, and the fact it is “already here” - definitionally impossible, despite how much we might be convinced that one is coming (certainly a high probability in my book right now). The other guilty party is the Rightmove stat on the “flood” of properties coming to the market. It would be wise to remember a few things:
- Rightmove articles, like any articles on the internet in this day and age, are written to generate clicks. Clicks onto the article and then onto the site.
- There are a very large number of owner-occupiers, potential owner-occupiers, and investors who have not been able to move or buy in the past 18-24 months. Many have wanted to, and the demand has been too great, meeting a constricted supply.
- A cooling-off from a market that was growing at 30% a year in some locations, 15% at an aggregated regional level in some locations, and in double digits everywhere but London, is not a crash. Nor is it a definite sign of an impending crash.
Waiting for a crash is quite literally the very worst strategy you could ever choose in property, or indeed in stock market investing. “Buying the dip” has absolutely mullered people in the crypto markets, this year, for example.
I often quote the famous Economist article from the early 2000s, which concluded that UK property, and specifically London, was horrifically overvalued - it then went up 100%+ before a “crash” that, according to the ONS, only saw nominal prices come down 17.8% in terms of properties actually transacted. A serious move, for house prices, but less than the US stock market has shed in the first six months of this year alone, to put it into context, with very few meaningful words being said about that being a “crash”, as yet.
I am a huge and unashamed fan of the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett, and he often has a phrase or two of wisdom that can add value at times like this. “Time in the market, not timing the market” would seem to be the most appropriate.
Within the context of all of that, however, I appreciate this is not just a situation where we should be discussing absolute prices. Relative prices and conditions are important. There’s a couple of major factors to consider.