2024 so far … (and what’s to come)

After a very uncertain 12 months, 2024 started with a bang.

Mortgage rate wars, falling inflation and talk of cuts to the Bank of England’s base rate all gave a much-needed injection into Surrey’s property market at the turn of the year.

Now, just over a month since it began, our senior team provide their thoughts on what’s happened to date – and, more importantly, what lays in store for the rest of the year.

Roly Matthews, Hinchley Wood Director

“2024 has started really pretty positively. Healthy numbers of new buyers and sellers have surfaced, and a significant number of sales slotted into place during the first few weeks. The consensus of public opinion and media commentary in 2023 had been how inflation was expected to fall and interest rates would follow this year. Having seen rates hold on the last few occasions, in tandem with mortgage lenders cutting better deals on their products, the feeling seems to be that the worst is over.

“Whilst we haven’t seen the base rate fall yet, it’s widely anticipated and buyers are engaging with the market in decent numbers albeit with a little caution. Homes listed at peak 2022 prices have probably got a tough time ahead, but realistic sellers are moving on to their next home at a reasonable pace.

“I suspect we’ll have a robust market for the front half of this year at least. In my experience of elections, some homeowners will pause for thought at the end of the year, although given how housing seems to be low on the government’s list of priorities historically, I don’t think there’ll be much to report for the property market whatever the outcome. To some extent, I think the British public has become rather hardened to the endless cycle of global and domestic doom and gloom, ultimately just wanting to get on with their own lives; growing families, securing good schooling, relocating and downsizing from oversized family homes. There’s always a market.”

Chris Burton, Claygate Director

“After a challenging 2023, which saw mortgage rates rocket and a national slowdown in the property market, the mortgage lending landscape has become more competitive. As a result, buying a property has once again become more attractive, more affordable and more accessible.

“This renewed fluidity has been welcomed by sellers and buyers alike – and it’s also being reflected in the number of listings we’ve made in recent weeks. In Claygate, for instance, we saw a steady supply of new instructions in January. February seems to be broadly the same, too, which is really positive for Elmbridge homeowners looking to make their next move.

“It’s worth highlighting that despite this flurry of listings that we’re experiencing, the balance is currently in favour of buyers who are hoping to ‘price in’ a discount of at least 5 – 7 per cent on offers made. I would expect this to continue until at least the second half of the year.”

Lewis Sutehall, Cobham Sales Director

“Overall, it’s been a fantastic start to the year with renewed confidence for many buyers and sellers as interest rates begin to soften. Interestingly, prices are holding up very well. With the best-in-class properties, there has been next to no reduction in price, and I would even say growth has been seen in most cases.

“Newbuild properties are still commanding a high premium, which is being driven by the majority of buyers not wishing to undertake work once they’ve moved in for two reasons. Firstly, we’re seeing appetite for renovative works decrease due to the associated ‘hassle factor’. Secondly, the rising cost of building is making homeowners think twice.

“I expect the market to be at its most active in the first six months of the year, predominantly as a result of the upcoming UK and US elections, which will likely slow the market down on a temporary basis. We also have a considerable amount of new build properties in the pipeline, as Elmbridge continues to be a hotspot for development. Perhaps what is most pertinent right now is The Budget, which will take place on 6 March. Will the Prime Minster be looking to help drive movement in the property market with another stamp duty holiday or incentive? We shall see.”

James Dodds, Cobham Lettings Director

“So far, the difference between 2023 and 2024 has been like night and day, with new properties to let coming onto the market on a daily basis. Whilst this is great for tenants, who now have much more choice than they did in 2023, it also means competition has increased for landlords. This applies to properties spanning most price brackets, too.

“Our tenant list continues to grow week on week. Similarly, landlords seem to be more enthusiastic when it comes to letting their property, which is being evidenced by the rate at which we’re being asked to value properties.

“The beginning of February was exceptionally busy, and there are no signs of this slowing down. We’re already seeing tenants registering for summer moves to try and get ahead of the game! 2024 is shaping up to be a strong year for the rental market and I expect this positive uplift to continue over the next 12 months."

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