‘Always look on the bright side of life…’


So sang Eric Idle’s Barrabas to Graham Chapman’s Messiah, Brian, as they dangled helplessly on their crucifixes…was Barrabas referring to the resurrection, did he know something that Brian, the Son of God, did not?

But wait! My fingers hover trembling above the keyboard, fear grips me…

Am I allowed to do this anymore?

In this culturally conflictual age where freedom of speech seems to be a debatable concept, is religious satire still permissible? Today, when intolerance is so widely tolerated, would The Pythons have got away with Life of Brian, or would their lampoon have been lambasted even more than in 1979?

Well, let’s see…

Because today we’re discussing the crucifixion and the resurrection, and not just that of Jesus, but also that of the UK property market.

We have just passed the Vernal Equinox and now the days become longer than the nights. Within a week the clocks go forward – the light of the world returns – Spring is springing.

Throughout the ages Spring has been a sacred and significant occasion, and as such was religiously and indulgently celebrated by the Ancients. The end of the darkness and the beginning of the light. A time of regeneration, rebirth, and resurrection…


Yes, the Christians spotted that word too.

You see the early Christian church needed a feast day to celebrate their Messiah’s victory over Death, a time to praise the glorious resurrection of The Son (Sun?). The equinox was ideal; the local heathens already used it as a festival, and it was sufficient distance from their last religious rebranding/appropriation (Winter Solstice/Birth of Baby Jesus) for them to get away with it.

And so, one Quiet News Day in the Levant during the second century, the early Church Fathers slyly slipped Easter into the calendar.

Er…property-related news? Yup hang on, almost there – because, not only at this time of year did the Son of Man arise from his sepulchral somnolence and start wandering the streets of Jerusalem performing wondrous miracles to behold, but also, traditionally, the UK housing market shakes off its sleepy shroud and starts to perform its own miraculous feats (sort of)….There you go, worth the wait wasn’t it?

And my, what wondrous feats we are currently beholding!

  • Sales agreed and properties sold up 50%.
  • Instructions up 35%.
  • New buyer registrations up 65%.
  • Current price achieved, 99.56% of asking price.

That last stat is important. As a recent Rightmove press release so euphemistically put it, ‘attractively priced properties are quickly being cherry-picked, but over-optimistically priced sellers are taking longer to find a buyer…’ i.e. you price too high, you sell too slow, and so, too low. Same old.

It is a very good market, but it’s still a price sensitive market – a market not of lifestyle choices, but life stage choices.

As discussed in February, the turbulent tailwinds of the Trussonomic tornado have finally subsided. Inflation is falling and will soon no doubt to be followed by interest rates (currently you can get a 5-year fixed rate mortgage deal for under 4%).

And although we have an election scheduled this year, I think that this is a positive thing – a deeply disliked and dysfunctional government will be leaving office (last poll I saw – Lab 46%, Con 19%, and Britain’s foremost polling guru, Prof. Sir John Curtice has said there is a ‘99% chance of Labour winning’). Also, the new government will contain a chancellor that Mark Carney has described as ‘a serious economist’.

People have sat waiting through this past year of uncertainty to get on with their lives, but now I sense of feeling of optimism, of positive change, the feeling that ‘the next government can’t possibly be worse, than the last?’

(N.B, I have no political axe to grind here. I am apolitical. I think that all politicians are pretty much equally ghastly, just some are more equal than others…)

So where is all this gibberish leading us?

To a prophesy…

The market was crucified last year by all manner of uncertainty and political f#ckwittery. I won’t list it all, you know it all, you lived it all. It resulted in reduced volumes of turnover – down about 20% on the long-term national average. However, the RB stats quoted earlier suggest that things seem be different this year. Additionally, I went to an economics lecture this week given by a proven prophet (or should that be narcissistic psychopath?). Whatever, the point is that he usually gets it right.

This month he highlighted a few very interesting facts.

  • Inflation-adjusted, real prices of homes are at the same level as 2003.
  • The percentage of income spent on rent or mortgages is at its lowest level since 2011.
  • We have 28 million households and 25 million dwellings.
  • Net immigration was 700,000 in 2023.
  • Last year the UK built 20% fewer homes than its target of 300,000 – a target missed every year since 1976, (ONS).
  • Supply and demand work in the housing market as in any other market.
  • The UK housing market turns in cycles.

He also stated one very interesting opinion (prophecy?).

  • We are at the bottom of the current cycle.

Over the next 12 months or so, he sees transactional volumes heading up to the long-term average of 1.2m pa. The market will spring into life once again.

So, in a way this St John the Baptist figure prophesied the resurrection of the dead (market) after its grisly crucifixion, and the life of the world to come.

And as he wandered back off into the valley of Jordan, I glanced out across the Balham High Road with the sparkly Spring sunshine glinting off the passing lorries, and I thought to myself, Amen to that….
Best wishes
Patrick Rampton