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The New Year brings more houses onto the market

When people know I am a conveyancing solicitor, I am frequently asked whether we are busy.

"Yes we are", is the answer! There is a perception of activity in the housing market being linked to house prices. If they are going up then the market is busy, otherwise we must not have any business.

It is certainly true that when the market was beset by galloping house prices more people wanted to take advantage of this -and did so fuelled by easily available credit. In our experience much of this credit was provided to those least able to afford it, and seemingly on the premise that house price increases were something that would go on forever. First time buyers were provided with loans of 110-125% of the property value, and banks fell over themselves to lend. Four years ago this all came crashing down and the economic crisis followed. We in conveyancing are, however, still seeing the real fall out from this, as property comes to market through repossession.

Whilst house prices have been more stable, transaction levels have also been less subject to massive fluctuations. People are moving regularly and there is a constant demand from investment buyers, fuelled by the need for a better return on capital that can be achieved from renting property, rather than leaving the money in the bank.

December/January are traditionally quiet for the housing market, but this year most of our local agents opened between Christmas and New Year, to meet business demand. RICS has just reported that sales activity remained relatively firm during December, with an increasing amount of new stock coming onto the market. They caution sellers, however, to price realistically to achieve sales. Ian Perry, RICS housing spokesperson said:

"Whilst it's encouraging that sales activity held up relatively well towards the end of the year, continuing problems with the economy and the ongoing instability in the eurozone seem to be weighing heavily on the UK housing market and expectations for the coming months are fairly subdued.

The increasing number of prospective sellers who placed their homes on the market in December is a positive development as a lack of stock has been a big issue in some parts of the country, but with sales expectations remaining flat, it is important that vendors are realistic in their pricing if they wish the sale to go through in good time."

I would conclude with a reminder to any prospective first time buyers that the stamp duty relief for first time buyers ends on 23 March 2012.

For more information please contact Susan Ellis, Partner & Head of Residential Conveyancing E:

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