OUR clients have become much less optimistic about the future of house prices, particularly for Greater London and the South East.
For England and Wales we predict that house prices will rise by 3.6 per cent by the end of June 2004, instead of 4.5 per cent. Meanwhile, the expected fall for London increases from 3.1 per cent to 4.3 per cent, and the fall for the South East from 0.3 per cent to 0.8 per cent. Conversely, the forecast for price rises in the North strengthens to 8.6 per cent from 7.6 per cent, and that for Wales from 3.7 per cent to 5.1 per cent.
Perhaps more of our clients are beginning to feel that the recent rises in London and the South East will be dissipated by further increases in interest rates. But the bulls have not yet run home with their tails between their legs.
I had lunch with a journalist who is searching for a one-armed economist. Someone who, when asked where the housing market is going, will not hedge their bets by contrasting what might happen on the one hand with what could happen on the other.
Actually, there was a two-armed economist at the lunch, but I noticed that he kept his hands under the table the whole time.