There are those in the press, social commentators too, who treat many things as watershed moments, some are, some aren’t.
‘Watershed moment: A critical turning point in time where everything changes that will never be the same as before’; so says the Collins Dictionary.
It feels like we have lived through a number of ‘watershed moments’ but have we and why is talk of ‘the Brexit effect’, ‘the post covid market’ or the stamp duty effect’ misleading and to what degree?
They are three events that have had an impact upon our daily lives and upon the property market. Many commentators turn to these to explain why we have rising and falling property markets, price changes, activity levels but are these the cause wholly, partially or not at all.
Watershed moments are ones where our world changes forever. The end of the dinosaurs and the rise of the human species are drawn out watershed moments. More modern ones are the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, the discovery of ‘The New World’ by Christopher Columbus, the Industrial Revolution and much more recently, the invention of The Internet.
These are moments, critical turning points where everything changed and nothing would or could be as before.
Brexit, Covid and Stamp Duty?
In truth none of them qualify as watershed moments. The world has gone on after each one and isn’t fundamentally changed. Brexit? Nope, not a watershed.
We are talking about events. Brexit was a drawn out event, Covid a painful, sad and costly event and stamp duty, well stamp duty of July 2020 was petrol to be poured on an already lit bonfire.
These three events have affected the property market because we made them have impact. We love to talk to point the finger, lay blame at someone’s door but all the time the market reacts to human trends, opinion and confidence. These three events and the reporting around them had an impact because of how we chose and still choose to react to headlines, to strap lines rather than properly research and analysis.
Of course they had an impact but they are/were events upon a long timeline, one which, if you look at it objectively, has a life and a direction of its own. That life is influenced by global events, changing technology, lifestyles and beliefs. It is affected by education, by economics and by emotion.
A watershed moment for the world of property was a three year period in the 1980’s, one I have written about elsewhere, that period, that series of events changed our world forever.
If you want to have an understanding of the property market look at the big picture, the long term trends and patterns, don’t ignore events like Brexit and Covid but don’t give them more importance than they deserve when looking for the reasons why we are where we are today, the seeds of that were sown long before.
This article is in response to question Seven of ‘Ten key questions to understand where the property market is heading‘.