When it comes to predicting movements in the housing market, it is not just the figures released by those at the financial heart of the sector, estate agents, banks and building societies, that signpost the trends.
A reliable measure of buoyancy in the housing market comes from those at the chalkface – the removals companies. The past few years have been tough on these businesses, they are often small, family-run concerns and over the past six years many have gone to the wall.
Battling back from bankruptcy
Even the 400-year-old Pickfords Removals flirted with liquidation, until it was bought up, re-branded and given a new lease of life.
But the future is looking much brighter for the UK’s movers and shakers as recent reports of a resurgence in the housing market has been backed up by figures from removals companies across the UK. M & G Removals, based in Solihull, has reported that the number of monthly completions has risen by 10,000 from 60,000 to 70,000 since 2012, although this is nowhere near the heyday of 120,000 monthly completions in 2006. And over in Bristol, the Small Move Company recorded its best December trading figures ever.
It is not just in the UK that removals companies are signposting a recovery in the housing market. One of Spain’s largest removal companies, Advance Moves International Removals, has reported a resurgence in the Spanish housing market during 2013, and it looks like 2014 will be an even busier year.
Managing director of Advance Moves, Mat Ford-Dunn, puts the Spanish resurgence down to falling house prices in Spain, which has meant that the price of housing has become more ‘realistic.’ To meet the demand, Advance Moves has had to purchase five new vans and trucks to cope with increased demand over the past year.
Bouncing back in the UK
While the trend is the same in the UK, it is not a case of falling prices that has sparked a new buoyancy to the housing market, but rather demand far outstripping supply.
The Guardian newspaper reported that a comprehensive set of surveys of banks, surveyors and estate agents had forecast further growth, with some optimistic reports suggesting that an eight per cent rise in the housing market across the whole of the UK, not just the south-east and London, was imminent. This would add 20,000 to the most recent Office of National Statistics figures for average house prices. In other words the average house price in the UK would rise to £247,000.
Good news across whole country
And it is good news for removals firms across the UK, because while London has been enjoying its own housing bubble throughout the recession, many commentators feel that this is about to change.
Looking ahead, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has predicted that London growth will continue, but with so many people now not earning enough to afford to live in the capital, there will be a natural brake on rises. As London’s housing market slows, so the regions will catch up.
Figures vary, but predictions of about 10 per cent growth in the Midlands and East Anglia, and some predictions that the south-east and the south-west will out perform London within the next two years.
So the evidence is there. The increasing thunder of removal trucks across the country is a sure sign that the housing market is on the mend.