‘Are you seriously telling me that the market is finished until mid February?’ asked my somewhat enraged client.
‘I fear I am. There are always exceptions but given that you’ve seen every property that could be of interest to you in the last three months in the ten to twenty million category it’s unlikely anything decent new will come to the on or off-market in the next three months.’ I wasn’t going to sugarcoat it, as absolute candour was the only way to communicate with this particular client.
‘I find it utterly extraordinary that a business – and one that claims to be booming – can just shut down for three months of the year.’
‘Well, yes, the thing is, it’s more like four months as August is completely dead too.’
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I was being facetious while telling the truth. It was, in some ways, easier than pointing out that he’d now seen over sixty properties over an eighteen month period – twenty of which were highly appropriate – and had passed on them all.</p>
The truth is that stock is limited in London and there’s a finite supply of lateral spaces with parking, 3,000-plus square feet, in the areas he’s happy to be in. The second, and perhaps more important truth, is that his instinct has told him that the market is in a bubble and about to burst. My feeling is that he’s wrong – it may not rise significantly, but nothing feels like it’s crashing. Only time will tell who’s right on that score.
It’s hard to avoid that mid-November to mid-February are pretty depressing months in London. There’s the alleviation of Christmas but for some of us the excessive commercialism and forced jollity is a turn-off rather than turn-on.
There are the odd days of bright winter sun when the leaves crunch beneath our feet and we imagine ourselves swathed in cashmere fending off a crisp but enlivening breeze and ready to arrive in a scenic pub with a crackling log fire and some hearty food – but that’s an image that more realistically realised in a Richard Curtis film.
The afternoons draw dark now by 4.30pm and there’s the prospect of three more months before the snowdrops signal new life beginning.
It’s no wonder that those advising people who are selling super-prime property rightly suggest vendors wait until spring now. I’ve had conversations with four super-prime clients recently and told them to wait until they launch their houses.
The normal property market plays by different rules – that market has a currency all year round for it tends to be dictated by necessity rather than an addition to a trophy property portfolio. So, we in the prime market now begin a gentle hibernation, a slowing down of business though things will still get done, locking down the deals that are ongoing and prepping for the ones that will happen next year – and, yes, why not, planning a long January vacation.