Riding the Waves: Navigating the European Property Market and Its Impact on the Moving Industry

November 15, 2023

(prepared with the data and opinion provided by Governing Members)

In the vast expanse of the European property market, a complex tapestry is woven with threads of economic fluctuations, geopolitical events, and local policies. As we delve into the dynamics of this market, we uncover a mosaic where some regions flourish while others face challenges, shaping the landscape for both homeowners and professionals in the moving industry.

Two Markets: Rising and Cooling Trends

Eurostat data for the second quarter of 2023 reveals a nuanced scenario among European Union Member States. Nine countries experienced an annual decrease in house prices, with the most significant declines in Germany (-9.9%), Denmark (-7.6%), and Sweden (-6.8%). In contrast, seventeen countries showed an annual increase, with Croatia (+13.7%), Bulgaria (+10.7%), and Lithuania (+9.4%) leading the way. And, indeed, our Governing Member, the Bulgarian Movers Association, BMA, reports robust growth in prices and demand in Bulgaria, attributed to an influx of individuals seeking refuge from conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. Statistical data confirms that the real estate market in Greece is also thriving, and substantial growth in this sector is largely attributed to active interest from foreign investors. Greece introduces a unique twist with the Golden Visa program, enticing foreign investors and property buyers, further fueling demand.

On the flip side, countries like Spain and Italy are experiencing a cooling trend. The Association of Italian Moving Companies, AITI (our Governing Member) comments on the market’s stalemate, citing high mortgages, few sales, and minimal removals. Belgium, experiencing a slower rise in property prices, grapples with continued pressure on household purchasing power. And information from the Austrian Association of Moving Professionals, ÖMTV, indicates a noticeable slowdown in sustained price increases, primarily in 2021-2022 in Austria, due to current economic uncertainties. Demand remains strong, but caution among sellers and buyers has led to a stagnation in prices, impacting new residential construction projects.

The Baltic States present a stable picture, with a slight slowdown in price growth. The capital cities of Riga, Tallinn, and Vilnius witness a tempered increase in average apartment prices, signaling a more measured approach in this region.

Unraveling the UK Property Market

British Association of Removers, BAR, confirms that across the English Channel, the UK’s property market mirrors the diverse trends of its European counterparts. Southern England and London boast slightly robust markets with prices relatively stable and fueled by a higher demand. In contrast, the north and the Midlands experience a more subdued landscape, marked by slightly falling house prices. A confluence of factors shapes the UK’s property trends, including rising interest rates, economic slowdown, and a cost-of-living crisis. These challenges vary regionally, contributing to a patchwork of housing market dynamics that impact both buyers and sellers

Challenges and Opportunities for the Moving Industry

For movers, these fluctuations present both challenges and opportunities. According to Stefan Dimitrov, President of BMA, in regions experiencing property market booms like Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia, the demand for moving services has surged. Movers find themselves busier than ever, but this success comes with the responsibility of managing increased workloads and maintaining service quality. The President of AITI, Alessandro Russo, shares that in Italy, they are experiencing a slowdown in the sector due to the sharp increase in rates. The market has suffered a significant decline, reflected in many sectors, one of which is the removal sector. Aivars Usāns, a CEO of FF International Movers (Governing Member in Latvia), comments that there has not been a noticeable impact on the real estate market affecting daily operations, with the main difference being a “late” start of the relocation season and more significant activity beginning in April. Furthermore, despite the  the Industry Barometer conducted annually by ÖMTV among its members indicates that in 2023, there was a continued upward trend in the number of relocations, albeit slightly less pronounced than in 2022.

Looking ahead, the prospects for the moving industry appear promising. For instance, Statista’s 2023 data indicates that the projected turnover for the removal sector in Austria is expected to continue its growth, reaching approximately EUR 98.42 million by 2025. While anticipating ongoing shifts in the property market and other factors that influence the European market, movers must maintain agility and innovation to cater to evolving client needs. However, a note of caution is sounded. Our Member BKV-CBD highlights potential challenges in Belgium’s relocation sector in 2024, underscoring the crucial importance of adaptability. In conclusion, the intricate dance between the European property market and the moving industry reveals a dynamic relationship. As we navigate the highs and lows, it is clear that staying attuned to market trends, embracing innovation, and maintaining a commitment to excellence will be key for movers seeking success in this ever-evolving landscape