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What if there's no post-election bounceI don't want to be a party pooper but what if there is no post election bounce' in transactions after May 7

To the casual eye, today's market looks strong - stronger than many expected in the run-up to the election. Prices are holding up almost everywhere and for all sectors apart from the very high end.

But it's increasingly clear that good performance is thanks to a shortage of stock (and so a shortage of transactions) rather than genuine' market strength.

Look at the agents' comments in the most recent RICS market survey, out a few days ago.

John Frost from The Frost Partnership in Amersham notes: Still a shortage of new instructions. M J Hunter of Grice & Hunter in Doncaster writes: There is a general lack of new instructions. A Champion of Hlls in Worcester says: Current instructions are hard to get due to fewer vendors. It's the same throughout this latest RICS report, with agents throughout the country reporting the same shortage.

Hometrack notes the same thing in its latest City Index. House price growth is holding up better than expected as a result of a lack of new supply of homes for sale says director Richard Donnell.

And Countrywide's data on instructions - which have recently been analysed by one of its high-end agencies, Hamptons International - show that across the Countrywide group some areas have seen a 25 per cent reduction in instructions in quarter one of this year compared to the same period of 2014.

So far, so predictable you might say - it's the traditional election effect' of course.

And there is no shortage of housing market analysts who try to sugar the pill now by saying that transactions traditionally bounce back after an election.

History shows that is true, but there is a detail to remember - transactions traditionally bounce back after a DECISIVE election.

My worry is whether the current hand-sitting by sellers is actually going to be resolved by what happens on May 7, especially if the current political opinion polls turn out to be right.

Let's say it takes a week to finally see the shape of the new government following debate and arguments between possible political partners after polling day.

It might - just MIGHT - be that we see a firm coalition government in place from mid-May. If it looks at good a fit' as Cameron and Clegg looked in 2010, then with the benefit of hindsight we might have confidence to believe the government will be stable.

But if it's not a formal coalition and instead a looser vote-by-vote' agreement between parties which might collapse when the going got tough, then confidence may be on hold for some weeks or months.

If it's, say, late June before prospective sellers and buyers reappear in traditional numbers, will that be time enough to save' this year's market and for transactions to return to normal

Worse still, what if - as some political analysts say - there might be the prospect of a second general election within a year What then for sellers and buyers

Speculation is easy and fun, but there is a serious point here.

Whoever gets elected there will be significant spending cuts, possibly introduced quite quickly. If Labour gets in, it promises a mansion tax within 100 days. If the Conservatives get in, there is a possible two-year debate over EU membership. Argument and controversy will continue and confidence' may be in short supply.

In other words, there will be uncertainties ahead whatever the result; and bigger uncertainties still if the result is fragile.

What tactics do agents have to encourage buyers and sellers to get back to buying and selling in that case On this occasion, it might not be enough to rely on history to say things will be OK again after polling day....

*Editor of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, Graham can be found tweeting about all things property @PropertyJourn


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