It seems churlish to complain about Britain’s holiday atmosphere - the feel-good factor engendered by unusually good weather and Bank Holidays - but the question has to be asked: is the housing market being damaged by the country’s imminent closedown?
The very top-end of the market around the country and especially in central London, of course, operates to different rules and employs an industry of marketeers to let us know how well things are going. But that is not the experience everywhere else.
“It’s like a Christmas shutdown with sunshine” one buying agent in south west England says. “The weather’s been good for the last 10 days and the next 10 days are preoccupied by holidays and the Royal Wedding. Why would anyone look at houses now?” she says.
“The telephones have been awfully quiet this week. People feel good but they want to go to the park with the kids, not look around semis” admits a north of England estate agent.
On top of that, the (in my mind inexplicable) wariness of estate agents outside London and the south east to open on even ‘ordinary’ Saturday afternoons and Sundays may lead to few opportunities for would-be buyers in the next period anyway.
There are only three working days until early May and Moneypenny, Britain’s largest corporate telephone answering service, reports it has seen a sharp rise in the number of estate agents seeking its help to cover closed days.
It’s different at the top end. Country Life has its annual Easter pagination binge (this week it has 327 pages, many of them carrying rural piles for sale). And however hot it may seem to Brits, the seasonal glut of buyers in central London from the Middle East (compared to which this country is climatically and politically rather cool) will keep agents busy.
But are we in for a chillier time around the rest of the UK when sales figures for this period emerge in weeks and months to come? And will the market then pick up again?
As journalists always say when they pose more questions than answers, time will tell.
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