What’s Going To Happen To The UK Housing Market In 2024?

Russell Quirk shares his thoughts

There are two types of property folk in this world, optimists and pessimists. In fact there’s also a third – the correct.

In 2023, I fell into the first and the third categories in that whilst a number of people pretending to be property experts predicted the death of the UK housing market, I said that it would be fine. And I was right.

Looking back on the forecasts of some punters we can see clearly now that the likes of the Bank of England, Capital Economics, the Office of Budget Responsibility, Savills, Knight Frank and more were wrong to jump on the laziest bandwagon of them all – to talk down the UK housing market.

Most amusingly, some extremist commentators told us that property prices would shatter into a million pieces and would drop ‘by 35% or more’. Incredibly, one or two are still saying the same thing because they hope, despite facing utter professional humiliation, that their broken clock will eventually be right.

They’ve made proper Charlies of themselves, haven’t they?

Now, I know a thing or two about PR and it seems to me that some of these chancers thought they’d grab a few column inches by declaring housing Armageddon because it would get them in the Daily Mail and on GB News. After all, it can’t just be me there ALL the time, can it?

But the problem with silly projections is that they have a shelf life. In other words when you repeatedly say that stupid things are going to happen you lose all credibility when they don’t. No one will ever take you seriously again and that’s it – game over for your career kudos.

In the case of Savills and Knight Frank, they go some way to solving the problem of PR headlines not coming true, by regularly revising their forecasts as the facts move against them. For instance, stating a likely 10% fall in prices soon turns into a press release that transforms the 10% fall to a ‘revision’ a few months later which as the clock ticks down to year-end, it enables them to be a bit more right than they were going to be otherwise.

But some pundits maintain their stance regardless of lucid facts. A lot like the Heaven’s Gate cult that continually prophecised Doomsday and spent many years gazing up at the stars in hope, believing that UFOs were on their way to rescue them. The UFOs never came but notoriety certainly did – all for the wrong reasons.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the PIE comments section, I am going to provide you with some predictions for next year and none of them involve the demise of UK house prices. Or flying saucers.

Let’s see how many you agree with…

+ Average house prices will rise by around 2% to 3% (the Nationwide or Halifax index, take your pick)

+ New housebuilding completions will be at one of the lowest levels in decades – circa 160,000 completions

+ We will not enter recession in 2024

+ Rishi Sunak will not be prime minister by the time of the 2024 general election (Oct/Nov). Keep an eye on Nigel Farage.

+ OnTheMarket will rebrand and then grow website traffic and agent market share substantially. But the current management team will exit

+ Something ‘big’ will happen in the self-employed estate agency sector

+ Putting the ‘free’ into ‘freefall’, Purplebricks will increase losses by another £20m (see also ‘broken clocks’ above).

+ The London estate/letting agency M&A market will explode with activity

And just for fun:

+ Gary Lineker will no longer front Match of the Day

+ Harry and Meghan will split

Of course, I’ll be taking bets as usual with the winnings going to my usual charity.

Merry Christmas everyone and get ready for a prosperous New Year.

Russell Quirk is chief optimist officer and crystal ball gazer at ProperPR, the property public relations agency

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