This time last year us news gatherers were thinking we would get our annual break from the news.
August is traditionally when the property market goes on holiday and we get to gather our thoughts and prepare for the autumn onslaught of deals.
But, it didn’t go that way. There was no lull, no let up and the deals kept flowing. Agents – letting and investment – were chained to their desks and heads of terms were flying around offices as the market cashed in on the best period since 2008. It felt strange. We were writing stories as big, if not bigger, than throughout the rest of the year. For me, it was the busiest August for news I’d ever experienced in more than 20 years of newsgathering.
So, it was with some enthusiasm I approached this August. After months of having to write the term “Property Company X revealed a record breaking set of results this morning” as corporate after corporate showed us the fruits of their successful labour during the past three, six, or 12 months, I was expecting the August deal flow to be a repeat of last year. But, no. To be frank, there’s not a lot going on. Those agents who were striking deals this time last year have, this time around, gone on holiday. The market has, let’s face it, gone a bit quiet.
This time in 2014 I was chasing – if I remember correctly – 28 shopping centre sales. Yep, there are many shopping centres up for grabs this year too, but no one appears in too much of a rush to grab them. Yes, there’s a shortage of office supply in London, but the big investment deals of the past few months have slowed during recent weeks. As for the regions, which were beginning to catch up on the London and south east market, have not capitalised on recent gains. To say the property market is dead maybe stretching it, but we are in a lull.
Call it what you want, a lull, taking a breather, holiday season, the fact is August 2015 is not a patch on August 2014. For me, this may well be the biggest indication yet that we’ve passed the peak of the market. There will, no doubt, be a few more big deals and there are certainly a few more agency mergers and acquisitions in the offing, but time appears to be running short for these big deals complete.
It’s seven years since the depths of the crash. In my experience that’s the point at which we hit the next one. While I wouldn’t claim we are heading for another crash, I would predict a period of consolidation – another term for a lull. It’s not going to be as exciting as it has been for the past year or so, and we’re all going to have to get used to that for a while.