Here is something that I haven’t seen touched on in the Pin yet. THe issue of false price signals in the property market which might be hampering the adjustment to a clearing price.
First, the situation as I see it. Excess supply. At current asking prices there is a (massively) larger number of sellers than buyers. Cause: the current observable price, at which a very modest number of transactions are taking place and sellers continue to ask for, is a long way above that which will clear the market and allow all those people who want to buy a house at the current market price to get one **and **all sellers who want to sell at the current market price to secure a sale in a reasonable period of time.
That is simple and not too controversial around here. A very large amount of excess supply exists, so prices need to and will fall - sooner or later.
Which brings me to false price signals, something I suspect now might be having a very significant retarding afftect on the pace of unavoidable adjustment.
What is a false price signal? If you are a seller, with an asking price on your property and your are getting any offers close to your asking price, you are encouraged to believe there exists a buyer in the market at a price close to whatyou want.
Moreover, estate agents can get the same impression as the witness these events. And it doesn’t take many occurance for this to happen. Just one person offering you your asking price after many months on the market can be strong enough to reinforce your preferred view - that you won’t have to reduce your price by 40-50%.
That is fine, so long as those offers can be made good. But here is the problem. The people making the offers may think they can make good on them, but often they are premised on an assumption that they will be able to sell their house close to their own asking price, which in turn is reinforced because they may have had an offer close to their asking price (but not yet close enough), or their agent might be telling them that they have witnessed offers for similar houses close to asking prices.
What you build is a chain built on unrealistic expectations. Some of this might actually come off, a part of the chain can be completed by someone who has cash, or is an FTB with a bullish view on the market, savings and earnings. Clearly this is going to be the exception rather than the rule, but every occurance will reinfoce the beliefs of agents and sellers and these false price signals will be given too much weight.
I am seeing a lot more evidence for this.
- A goodly number of housing staying sale agreed for months on end.
- Houses coming back on the market.
- Agents (who I believe are not lying) telling me the offers that some owners are getting for houses, but they still remain on the market.
Of course, the way agents and sellers interpret what they see is moulded to fit their desired view of the world. They see offers and some sales being made at and around current asking prices and so are convinced it is simply “confidence”, nothing “fundamental”. But they are mistaken.
What is going to happen? Well this all continues to point to slow burn, unless agents really do wake up and start any new listing with some cold hard fact and bring properties to market at prices 25-30% below stock already there. Only then will all market participants begin to see genuine price signals.