Now that 2018 is already in full swing and we have read every prediction for 2018 under the sun, we thought it would be a good idea to look back onto 2017 and explore the predictions that everyone thought would happen but didn’t.
1.Letting agents’ fees ban: This may be on its way in 2018 but what happened to it in 2017? It was first announced in November 2016 and after 13 months of consultation the ban had been formally agreed by government. But it hasn’t been implemented! Not that we are in any rush.
Perhaps the fact that agents are already pulling back their fees (notice how few stories there have been on this subject in the consumer media recently?) means the job has effectively been done without the need for a law.
2.Twenty per cent of agencies going bust: On more than one occasion in the past year the industry has been warned that as many as one in five estate agency businesses face closure – not because of a downturn, but because of online rivals.
And while we do not want to underestimate the pressures the traditional estate agencies are facing, we also not denying the fact that the face of the industry is changing.
It’s clear that Purplebricks has made significant impact on the industry but as for the other online agents? It’s too early to say, but one is clear – their gains in the past year seem less than remarkable.
3.The Brexit house price slump: Let’s not deny it Brexit has brought a bit of a drama over our country, and it is not doing much other than sapping the lifeblood from the economy and from the country’s reputation worldwide. However, it hasn’t led to the housing market bloodshed predicted in the six months after the 2016 referendum result.
Localised issues undeniably exist – it has been tough trying to sell houses in Central London and it hasn’t been easy for the agents in East Anglia to let properties because migrant workers have left in droves over the past year. But those pundits who within hours of the Brexit result forecast two years of double digit price falls were as mistaken as those Brexiteers who predicted a pull-out would be easy.
4.The exodus of landlords: We all are more than aware now about the recent tax changes – notably the phasing out of mortgage interest relief, which started in April 2017 – is making buy to let less profitable. Yet the predictions of the mass exit of Buy To Let landlords did not happen! And we can certainly say that we haven’t noticed any sign of the mass sell-up predicted by some siren voices. Growth within the sector is certainly negligible but as for the forecast of mass defection…it didn’t take place.
5.OnTheMarket becoming the second largest portal: There was a lot of talk in 2017 about OnTheMarket becoming the second largest portal in Britain and displacing Zoopla to a third place. While some OTM directors are set to be amongst the best-paid in the industry after the Agents’ Mutual 2018 float, there remains fog around real data revealing membership and fees, and a heavy mist over site visits. Like Purplebricks’ completion rates, such figures did not appear in 2017 despite much anticipation.