Estate agents having a hard time of it - a nation weeps
Seriously, how much sympathy is it possible to muster up for estate agents? These businesses made millions during the housing boom; hundreds of houses on the books and thousands of buyers desperate to climb onto or up the property ladder. Demand outstripped supply, customer service sank through the floor, and estate agents raped and pillaged their way through the market and made a fortune fit for burying on a treasure island.
Now the tables have turned, and once where smugs of offices sprung up in glee, now there are but empty window fronts, pining for the days when hopeful punters would stare through them and cry at the price of a walk-in cupboard in Ealing.
Yes, with Barclays offering doomsday predictions of houses dropping from their peak value by up to 30% next year, the findings of the National Association of Estate Agents come as no surprise whatsoever. Based on activity in November, estate agents are now selling just six properties a month, while the number of properties on agents' books has dropped to 87.
The average number of house hunters per office fell by 5.1 per cent from October to 186. The NAEA claimed this fall was typical of a traditional pre-Christmas lull, but the total number of house hunters was down 35.9 per cent on a year ago.
The average flat is now worth £114,288, a terraced house is going for £149,589. Semi-detached and detached homes are being sold for £192,042 and £287,922 respectively. Will this see those cash-rich folk starting to snap up cheap bargains and repossessed homes? We suspect so; plenty of people with money in the bank have been waiting patiently for the explosion in house prices to blow itself out. Now that prices are falling, and throw in the fact that banks currently aren't keen to lend, there's sure be be a surge in demand for rented properties.
And so the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And estate agents get served a slab of stale humble pie, shortly after receiving a bloody good hiding. One out of three ain't bad.