Simon Havens, of Greenslade Taylor Hunt, assesses the property market this autumn and shares some thoughts on how to come out on top.
"With uniforms disappearing from shops faster than you can say "back to school", our unforgettable and glorious Olympic summer is almost behind us.
"For a while most of us forgot about the financial arena as we became more interested in how Team GB was doing in the athletics one. For a few weeks of sport-induced amnesia we also forgot about the property market.
"Well, property is back. Hard on the heels of the Tour de France and Olympic road-race and track cycling, we have property cycling. The property cycle is back in the news and back in our thoughts.
"Early autumn is the time of the year when property once again comes to the fore as families get busy thinking about a move before Christmas.
"It is possible to move by Christmas. But is it probable – or desirable – given the economic and social conditions that prevail?
"The latest statistics tell us that property affordability is the best it's been for more than a decade, but also that mortgage lending is down yet again. A paradox.
"And the next sets of figures may not be any better either, as they will reflect the summer lull. But out there things are stirring. Inquiries are rising, more people are viewing, more offers are being made and sales are being tied up. Numbers are what the property market is all about.
"The more enquiries the more viewers, the more viewers the more offers, the more offers the more sales. Simple really. And with more house sales the more our economy will respond. And the more the economy responds the more confidence people will have.
"Confidence drives the property market. It is not city bonuses, slick marketing or estate agents. It is buyers confident about the future and sellers confident with reality. Yet it is a harsh reality just now.
"We are probably not yet done with this wretched downturn, although prices across the country have flat-lined over the past couple of quarters – and they will probably do so for a few quarters to come.
"But then, who knows? Mortgages will no doubt become easier to obtain and more and more people will then want to enter the property market. And that is precisely the wrong time to do so – because a better time is right now. Now there are more options and more opportunities for those in a good position to buy.
"Now there are some great choices in the market. Now there is less competition. Now there is more time. Now there are deals to be done. Now is the time to buy before Christmas and now is the time to get settled before the property cycle begins its climb.
"It is always best to be a winner on the flat than miss out when things get steeper – ask any road-cyclist."