A wise person once said that you should never make predictions, especially about the future, so rather than guess what's going to happen next year, I'd rather focus on what's happened over recent months in the hope that the past is our best guide to the future. It's certainly been a year of two halves in Yorkshire the improvement in market activity we saw in 2009 continued until May's general election. The World Cup and the subsequent media frenzy about spending cuts took over and the market quietened significantly in the summer; the Spending Review put paid to any chances of the usual Autumn rally.
Demand is being suppressed by housebuyers job concerns and lenders who are taking an ultra-cautious view of the market. The stance of our banks and building societies is particularly frustrating as, having fuelled the housing bubble, they now seem to take no responsibility for breathing life back into it. However, in our view, 2010 was never going to be easy and if anything it has been slightly better than we expected, particularly in the last couple of months.
On a more positive note, the rental sector is incredibly buoyant, particularly in Leeds and York where there is strong demand from prospective tenants and in some cases rents have increased by up to 20% within the last 12 months. Consequently, returns for buy-to-let investors have grown significantly - in some cases yields are as high as 7% - as price falls have coincided with rising rents. Property investment is one area that lenders seem keen to support next year which will increase demand at the bottom end and produce a ripple effect into the rest of the market's not good news for aspiring first time buyers, but it will mean that house prices should stabilise and start to grow once again.
The last 3 years are probably the toughest the housing market has experienced in the last 60, but we believe that the worst is behind us. You only need to look at the Sunday Times Rich List to see how many fortunes have been made from long-term property investments as for estate agency, we live in hope.