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Atkinson Mcleod

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Will it be Gold, Silver or Bronze for house prices in 2012?

It's January, almost certainly cold and grey outside, and so the ideal time to pontificate idly on the likely performance of house prices in 2012.

It being the Olympic year and all that, and this being London, we may as well throw in a predictable sports-related metaphor, too.

So, will the property market finish the year with a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal? Or — cue gasps from around the capital — could prices even fail to make it onto the podium?

A quick scan of the economic landscape, both at home and overseas, suggests that house prices are unlikely to put in a Daley Thompson-esque performance in 2012. The economy is just too weak and there's even talk of a double dip recession.

Even ol’ Daley wouldn't have won the 110 metre hurdles with a couple of 16lb shot putts strapped to his ankles — and this is exactly the kind of weight the spluttering UK and European economies will place on the property market during 2012.

As estate agents, we're not inclined to talk down the market but at the same time we are realistic and nobody can deny that we are in a particularly challenging economic environment.

Inflation is high, which reduces people's spending power, unemployment is rising, which disincentivises people to buy, while the general flow of grim economic data from both home and overseas hardly inspires confidence.

For landlords, of course, a weak property market and economy aren't necessarily a bad thing. They can enable them to add bargains to their portfolios and will ensure a constant flow of tenants, who are priced out or shut out by nervous lenders.

All in all, our view is that house prices in the capital will finish with a Bronze medal round their neck. London will always prove more resilient than the rest of the UK, and with interest rates set to remain at their current level we believe prices will simply move sideways rather than fall.

But for landlords, there's every chance of Gold.


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