Head vs Heart: The psychology of property

Head vs Heart: The psychology of property

Buying a property is an emotional thing. In fact, it’s an astoundingly out-of-the-ordinary purchase for most of us. You’re likely to spend more time buying a second-hand car than you are buying a property. You visit once, maybe twice – and often decide to buy within the first 30 seconds of viewing a property: it’s called curb appeal. But this is the biggest purchase of your life.

Emotions sway our decisions across all investment markets – especially the stock market – and history shows us that we aren’t nearly as rational as we think. So what emotional factors tend to affect the property market – and what does it mean for investors?

Our Director of Property, Robert Weaver, has seen investor behaviour through two property market cycles, and is one of the UK’s top property experts. Here we share his knowledge:

When the market is growing

Fear of missing out
When the market is growing, buyers have a tendency to rush in – keen to get a foot on the ladder before they’re priced out. This further aggravates growth.

People often overpay
Even when people are buying property as an investment, rather than a home, they’re still likely to overpay if they really like it. Moreover, demand far outstrips supply, and buyers are worried that someone else might snap their property up. By contrast, when Property Partner secures an investment, we never overpay, and are usually in a position to negotiate a discount.

People don’t negotiate enough
Surveys come quite far down the line when it comes to buying a property – and people tend to be very emotionally engaged by this point. When the results of any surveys come through, people can often be too scared to ask for money off if any issues are noted, in fear that they may lose their future home.

People tend to over-leverage
Buyers will often over-burden themselves with debt, because they have to, or because they want to amplify their returns, believing that property prices will continue rising. This can be dangerous. At Property Partner, we take a reserved approach to risk, and will never leverage more than 60% of our investments, and most are at 50%. Ultimately – mortgaging a property increases risk, as well as return on investment.

Buy-to-let investors become over-confident
Buy-to-let investors with high LTVs (loan-to-value mortgages) tend to become more reckless, because they have less of their money invested. They often don’t look at the yield enough, relying on capital growth, and often don’t work out the costs properly either, overestimating what their property will deliver from them. This overconfidence also pushes prices up.

When things get a little rocky

Most people don’t sell
In times of uncertainty, or downturn, people don’t tend to panic sell their homes – they sit on them, and wait for things to improve. This removes stock from the housing market, and pushes prices back up – and this is particularly true of owner occupiers with high LTV mortgages, who will rarely be willing to sell for below the value of their mortgage. Investors are also unlikely to exit, as they will continue to earn a decent rental income, even if prices fall – and will wait until price rise once more.

The ‘needs-based’ market
There will always be those with personal circumstances that require them to sell at a bad time. Death, divorce, and debt are three common factors. There is always a price to pay for liquidity.

Investor mentality on Property Partner

Interestingly, our investors have made purchase decisions more rationally than they would likely have done if buying a property themselves. Below is a list including some of the most popular properties on our platform to date:

30 Cherington Road, Hanwell, W7
Flats 1, 5-7 Tower Mint Apartments, E1
Thornwood, Eastbourne, BN21
Flat 128, Vantage Building, Hayes, UB3
80 Manordene Road, Thamesmead, SE28
37 Friars Close, Seven Kings, IG1
2, 17, 19 Garden Court, West Drayton, UB7
129 Southwood Road, Hayling Island, PO11

While many of these properties are aesthetically pleasing, the more common indicators of popularity are by the strength of the yield, by purchase discount, or by growth prospects, with many of these properties being very close to Crossrail stations around London.

Some interesting behaviour was also seen in the weeks following Brexit – a momentous decision that shocked the commercial and stock markets into chaos. So far, the Property Partner Resale market has reacted as you would expect. The majority of investors chose to hold their investments, however, the market saw some impulse decisions, and fast trades being made.

After two weeks, only 0.33% of total investment was listed on the Property Partner resale market at a discount to the initial listing price, with a large number of bullish investors sweeping in to buy these shares from panic sellers. At one point, over £1 million cash was readied – but just £113k was left on the marketplace at a discount to original listing. 631 investors snapped up 99.32% of these shares in just two days.

Whether you’re feeling ‘bullish’, or ‘bearish’ about the property market, you can now place bids on property shares in our Resale market. Trades happen fast, and there are always deals to be found – though the majority of our investors prefer to play the long game. Take your view, and see what you can find on the marketplace now: