Customer Area

2024 – Crystal Ball Gazing

As we enter the new year it is common for many industry commentators to stare into their crystal balls and make predictions on what might change in the year ahead.

Having worked within the residential property sector for 35 years I have come to learn that such predictions are easy to give but almost impossible to live up to.

Let’s look as some facts

We still have over 4000 law firms completing conveyancing transactions and the largest firm only has 2.2 % market share. This shows just how disparate the conveyancing market is.

Equally in estate agency there are over 8000 firms with estimates of between 15 and 20 thousand branches nationwide. Again, the largest player in terms of listing last year was Purple Bricks and they only managed a 1.47 % market share.

At its core this is why change in the home buying and selling space has been so elusive. Its like trying heard cats when you have some many players all with different views, systems, and ethics.

That is why conveyancing is slower today than it ever has been despite advances in technology, we still saw average transaction times of 17.2 weeks in 2023.  That’s probably 5 or 6 weeks slower than it was 20 or 30 years ago and the reasons are many with both lenders, lawyers and insurers sharing the blame.

Some would argue that the government should step in and modernise the process. I don’t this is likely or desirable. Take a look at the debacle that was home information packs and more recently the Building Safety act. The reality is politicians have no real interest or understanding of the housing market (hence the revolving door of housing ministers) and should be kept well away.

Bodies like the Law Society and the Land Registry have an equally appalling record of trying to come up with universal solution. Chain Matrix, Veya, HMLR Land Charges centralisation all show this is no easy problem to fix

So my predictions are these for 2024

  1. There will be no central guidance from government in part due the fact that we are due and election which means nothing will happen before and if Labour wins, as seems likely,  they have far bigger issues to sort than the home buying and selling process.
  2. Inflation will remain above 2 % and interest rates will remain above 4% throughout 2024 meaning mortgages will remain relatively expensive and the market will remain subdued.
  3. The Land Registry will not improve on its backlog of registrations and its long running Land Charges project will continue at a snails pace costing the tax payer hundreds of millions for almost no perceivable benefit.
  4. Cyber Attacks will continue to hit the headlines causing problems with law firms and estate agents as the property market is seen as soft target with huge sums of money at stake
  5. Calls of collaboration between agents and law firms will become louder but only a select few will grasp the nettle and deliver real benefits to the consumer.
  6. And finally the summer will be warmer, the winter will be colder and it will rain a lot during the spring.

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year with a promise I will return in 2025 to see how many of my predictions come to fruition.