Where we are in the property cycle and what to expect next

Property cycles have always been a source of fascination for me (KD) and it’s worth briefly mentioning where we are now and where we are likely to go.

In the past I have always said that there are two broadly distinct phases, the first is a post-crash recovery where you see prices come back then rise fairly quickly before stalling.

The ‘stall’ is a mid cycle phenomenon where due to prices having risen you see a lot of buyers back off or take stock of the position, the memory of ‘we saw something like this before’ is still there to haunt them.

After that you get into the second phase where the upward momentum recommences but this time, having seen that the stall was somewhat ‘false’ (in the sense that it is perceived that way, it doesn’t actually have to be that), prices rise up even quicker.

This is unexpected (to some) and evidence that you have to ‘get in’ on the game. It brings us to the second phase which is the classic ‘boom-bust’. This eventuality is inevitable in my view, the same as tides going in and out, the main question is how to make decisions when this is happening and to do so in the knowledge that prices, costs, interest rates and current decisions all have future consequences.

Many times last year I said that we were in the middle of the property cycle, people were rejoicing that prices were not rising, saying it was due to the Central Bank or other forces, I said this wasn’t the case at all and that we were due to have a price stall anyway.

There is no ‘special knowledge’ in this, it’s simply down to my belief that property cycles are a real thing, that they have certain characteristics and that by extension, we are now going into a boom to bust phase which will probably end in tears in the early to mid 2020’s.

If you believe otherwise, ask yourself ‘what forces are there to calm house prices?’. Supply is low, new build is low, rents are rising, investment is up, rates are low. Even if rates rise prices can still rise as they did from 2003 to 2007 when rates were in an upward cycle.

The confidence and enthusiasm in property is visible everywhere, shows are being made, there are cranes in the sky, this will all lead to the hyper-supply that will cause the market to collapse on itself in time. That said, it doesn’t mean people don’t need a place to live and that is why making the best possible decision for yourself is so vital.

You can’t help when you were born, you can determine how much you can save and what you choose to do with it though and when it comes to a decision to buy a home it all matters so get good advice.

One Comment

  1. mary collins

    Interesting read. The writing seems to be on the wall. The prices still seem to be ~40% lower than the highest prices in 2007. Do you think that house prices will return to these highs during this cycle?

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