Probably the most frequent question I was asked in 2017 was:What will be the impact of Brexit on the housing market this year and into 2018?
This in itself underlines the level of uncertainty which has existed within the minds of landlords, buyers and sellers alike.
As a consequence, fewer properties have been coming to the sales and lettings market (averaging between 4% to 6% less in 2017 compared to 2016) - with the natural knock-on effect there has been less choice for buyers.
However, on a more positive note, buyers have benefitted from some very attractive mortgage rates, with the trend in the latter part of 2017 being to opt for a fixed rate product. This offers buyers financial stability in terms of monthly payments (providing they have a 10% deposit, which can remain a stumbling block for some in the market)
In contrast, researching the rental market across our network of 11 offices across North and West Yorkshire has revealed that tenants are now staying in a property for an average of 21 months almost twice as long as when we first opened our doors 20 years ago!
This is a trend we expect to gather further momentum throughout 2018, as living in a rented home for a longer period is now a real and sustainable alternative for a growing number of people seeking a more flexible lifestyle.
Another hallmark of 2017 has been a steady growth in sale prices of circa 5% across both North and West Yorkshire. We have seen first-hand signs of pent-up demand now being released.
This is evidenced in the typically more sought-after locations of Harrogate, North Leeds and York. Here, achieved prices have been 95% to 98% of asking prices - and the speed of sale has been faster than the regional average.
What will we experience in 2018? A very similar picture to be truthful - with a backdrop of small, incremental interest rate rises; and the ripple effects of new Government initiatives spearheaded by stamp duty reductions for first-time buyers, and build-to-rent developments, especially in Leeds city centre.
Additionally, 2017 has witnessed a healthier appetite among developers in the new homes sector - and we see this as a big stand-out growth area for 2018. This will help the under-supply of housing, although this must be seen as a long-term strategy rather than a quick fix.