I visited my local ‘Lanes Property Agents’ branch and I spoke to a gentleman named Lee Saunders who is a sales negotiator. I asked him a few questions and he answered them willingly; these questions included:
1. What would you say was the recent problem in regard to the housing market?
Lee explained that in the housing market there is a cycle of buyers and sellers that each rely on each other in order for the next stage to be successful. He emphasised the importance of the first time buyer in the cycle, as without them; subsequent buying and selling will reduce – and at an extreme cease to exist.
He went on to add that in the last 4 to 5 months, mortgage lenders have tightened the criteria for giving out mortgages so it has made it tougher for first time buyers to ‘get their foot on to the market’.
2. Would it be fair to say that activity in the United States has affected the UK housing market?
Lee stated that in the US, mortgage lenders lent lots of money out carelessly to buyers who were unable to repay the money accordingly. Therefore, this resulted in the US heading towards a recession. Similarly, this was the case that was occurring in the UK with many mortgage lenders lending 100%+ mortgages to people who were just simply unable to repay the money back. He said that the UK learned from the mistake in the US and thus tightened lending criteria; and reduced the number of mortgages that they gave out to people who weren’t able to keep up with the minimum threshold of repayment.
He used Northern Rock as an example: He stated ‘Northern Rock was the best mortgage lender in the country for 100% mortgages; but they lent so much out [to people who just couldn’t repay] they couldn’t get the money back – and now look at them’.
I then went on to ask him about his views on Enfield in particular and whether the housing problem had affected the Enfield branch of ‘Lanes Property Agents’.
3. How has the housing crisis affected sales at the Enfield branch?
Lee said; house prices went up too quickly – which was good for sellers as they were more likely to get more money for their property – in comparison to the exact same property at a different time which would attract a much lower selling price. ‘The impact of higher interest rates made it even harder for buyers to find an affordable property, let alone buy one’ He added; then prices started to return to a realistic price which had a knock on effect on sellers who began to get more realistic about the price at which they would put their houses on the market for. After this period of high house prices, the market has settled once again and interest rates have fallen which has allowed consumers to borrow more money which translates to more buyers. ‘6 or 7 months ago, we [Lanes Property Agents] had so many customers, we could pick and choose who to represent – it is now a buyers market’.
4. What do you think will next happen in regard to property sales – in particular with regard to Lanes Property Agents?
Lending criteria had slowed down sales but now they have started to increase once again. Lee is hopeful that interest rates may go down next month, which will encourage more buyers to the market.
Lee concludes by adding that they are going strong – [They are selling] ‘well in excess of 25 properties a month but not as much as before’.