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Property Cycles: How They Work and Where We Are Now

It has long been theorised that the property market follows a predictable pattern over time, going through boom years, slumping and then recovering – before the cycle starts all over again.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just a would-be investor weighing up your options, the concept of property cycles can be a useful one to consider, potentially helping guide decisions on the best times to invest – and when to hold off.

So, what are property cycles and how do they work? Where are we now in 2022?

What Are Property Cycles?

The concept of property cycles is nothing new, having been around for almost 100 years and being central to the work of economist Homer Hoyt in the 1930s.

Later, the British author and commentator Fred Harrison discussed the idea of 18 year property cycles, which received a great deal of media attention following his correct prediction of the 2007/2008 crash.

In short, the core concept is that the property market continually transitions through a sequence of different phases over time. The four phases are boom, slow down, slump and finally recovery.

The cycle is continuous and driven by several key factors such as economic and financial influences (salaries, affordability, access to finance, etc), confidence in the market and demographics. 


The boom phase happens when demand exceeds supply, characterised by rising property prices and rents. In these times, confidence is high and the number of people borrowing increases as property finance becomes easy to obtain.

Slow Down

During this phase, high prices mean many people are forced out of the market. As interest rates rise and the cost of borrowing starts to increase, fewer people may be looking to buy, leading to an oversupply of housing stock.


During a slump, property prices begin to stall and/or fall. Borrowing becomes more difficult and demand falters, meaning there are often more sellers than buyers. Delays in the factors that drive the cycle filtering through to the property market mean we may be in the slump period long before many people actually realise it.


Following all the doom and gloom, the property market starts to grow again and prices begin to increase, leading people to question whether price rises are sustainable. Typically the shortest phase in the cycle, confidence is often initially low and then starts to rise – leading us back to the boom times.

Where Are We Now?

Following on from a decade of soaring house prices which has seen values surge by over 70% on average, many expected that we would now be seeing the market starting to cool. But while there has been some slowing in annual price growth, house prices reached record levels in August 2022, increasing by 0.4% and rising 11.5% year-on-year, according to the latest Halifax House Price Index.

In addition, the latest government data shows that residential transactions are actually increasing. The number of transactions rose by 4.4% from July to August 2022, an increase of 9.7% on August 202, according to the provisional non-seasonally adjusted estimate. 

Given the current economic uncertainty amidst record inflation, many experts agree that some cooling off should be expected in the coming months – but so far the market is showing remarkable resilience. It should also be remembered that property is historically a very safe investment type and that prices tend to rise over time.

In addition, there are also ways to spread risk and alleviate slowdowns in certain sectors, for example by investing in social housing through our Avora Capital option. As well as offering the opportunity to invest in a profitable and relatively undersaturated sector, it is also a turnkey solution, designed to deliver regular returns without the hassles associated with property ownership.

Interested in property investment? Speak to one of our property portfolio managers on +44 (0) 1708 922 222 – or contact us and a member of our team will call you back.

Important note: The information provided in this article is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. If you are unsure whether an investment is right for you, please seek professional advice. If you choose to invest, the value of your investment can both rise and fall so you may get back less than you put in.