As short wintery days engulf the UK, so too are the gloomy stories of an impending plummet in the price of the nation's homes. The conversations our team at Boardwalk are having certainly have a different feel to them now when looking back and drawing a comparison to the bright and busy spring earlier this year.
However, let the comparison not be forced. Ever since COVID lockdown number one was lifted there has been an unnatural surge in demand and a real lack of supply, felt in many areas of the country but especially in Bristol. Most weeks, around 200 new applicants looking to buy were registering with Boardwalk, yet the supply of homes across the board, especially of good quality, remained frighteningly low, causing offers far over asking prices and lots of competition, as many will have experienced.
The market now, is in many ways, more stable. We still have over 100 applicants registering most weeks and, where measurable, many prices remain just as high and in some cases higher. There is still a real lack of choice for buyers, with the level of stock at the lowest level I can remember in 11 years in the industry. There are fewer viewings taking place, but the vantage point we have at Boardwalk has shown us that flats and houses that display attractive interior style, offer good space and are photographed well, are still seeing competing interest from motivated and serious buyers, at a similar price to what they will have seen earlier in 2022.
Next year will have its own noise and new challenges. However, if stock levels remain low and Bristol remains as popular as ever (which we know it will), the much-talked-about heavy fall in prices isn’t likely to materialise. Nationwide stories of house price data, be they rises or falls, should be seasoned with an understanding that housing markets are turned hot and cold by the popularity of local lifestyle and culture. Bristol has a richness in these areas which few cities can match and which, combined with a strong local economy, has to hold weight in the whole equation of forecasting house prices, along with the mortgage rates and wider economic recession.
At the moment, in this cold winter, some areas of Bristol are lukewarm, but for many areas in which we work, the mercury is still rising. November saw activity rise, following October uncertainty, with our team noting popularity being particularly tangible in areas like Windmill Hill, Victoria Park, Redfield and Brislington. Interest rates have risen, but mortgage rates are stable, if not falling. With a few more months of relative stability and distance from the events of October, confidence could return more widely amongst those who feel buying and borrowing is still affordable. The frantic feel of 2022 should be behind us, which for all involved should be hailed more positively, as 2023 unfolds it could well show to be a sustainable and calmer year for the Bristol housing market, well-insulated to the prices which may or may not fall around us.