A Manx estate agency boss is warning that interest rates are likely to rise.
David Creane, who’s the chairman of Cowley Groves, has reported on sales in the first quarter of the year.
He said the first quarter of 2014 compared favourably with the first quarter of 2013 in that unit sales achieved were very similar.
The return to growth in sales last year had continued this year, however, the rate of growth had not increased.
He said: ‘This reflects a gradual return to confidence in the market and as the UK economy has turned a corner this will only improve the local feelgood factor and hopefully an escalation in the number of unit sales achieved.
‘Listings of new properties coming to the market have remained similar again to last year but what is significantly different is that we have quite a number of cash- or mortgage-approved first time buyers registered but without the available stock to sell to them.
‘Whenever we get a first-time buyer house in the right location and priced properly with condition being a factor it is quickly snapped up.’
He said there might be a reluctance with the owners of properties in the £180,000 to £250,000 region to move up the market for a number of reasons, whether it be employment issues, interest rate worries or just a lack of confidence.
‘While this is understandable I would advise that anyone intending to move up market to do so now,’ he said.
Interest rates are at their lowest level for 150 years or more, he said, making it an excellent time to lock into the fixed-rate mortgage at a time when there was an ‘abundance’ of properties at this level available, which made it a buyers’ market.
UK employment levels are now below 7 per cent, which is one of the criteria the Bank of England indicated would trigger a possible interest rate rise.
Mr Creane said: ‘I believe a few other positive signs need to emerge before a rise will happen. During the last few weeks Sterling has strengthened quite significantly, which makes exports more expensive therefore reducing productivity in the UK. So one has to look where the growth is going to come from.
‘At the moment it is consumer-led which can’t last forever. They are dipping into savings while confidence is returning but it can’t last forever.’
He said the question was not would interest rates rise, it was when would they rise.
Cowley Groves felt it might not be as soon as some commentators suggested.
‘Our message to the would-be buyer is to urge them to look for the best fixed-rate possible and lock in for a long period of time and eliminate any doubt or worries on the amount that you would be required to repay on the mortgage front,’ he said.
‘Excellent deals are to be had but they won’t be around forever. The market continues to be a buyers’ market except for the first time buyers sector where demand is completely outstripping supply but above that bargains are to be had.’
Estate agents have a vested interest in talking up sales and it is difficult to get an authoritative objective view of the Manx property market.
The Isle of Man doesn’t have an equivalent to the Nationwide or Halifax indexes, which monitor the property market in the UK, and the land registry reports from the government are always subject to a lag in time.