‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’

4 December 2018

The French have a saying, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, which translates as “the more things change, the more they remain the same”. Given the period of political and economic uncertainty we are currently facing, reminding ourselves that a fundamental truth lies behind this proverb may yet be a source of reassurance.

The likelihood is that once we have left the EU, we will enter a transition period during which we will still abide by the majority of its rules, contribute to its budget and trade with the same European businesses whilst negotiations over our new trade deal take place; plus, ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

During the last few months, despite the uncertainty over whether Theresa May would secure a deal with the EU, and despite the subsequent uncertainty over whether the cabinet and now Parliament will approve her deal, the seasonally-adjusted volume of sales in the UK has remained relatively static; the ONS recorded 101,200 sales in October 2017, and predict 102,530 for October 2018. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Of course, it is probable that the housing market here in East Anglia will be affected to some extent in the coming months by the ongoing uncertainty. Some sellers may decide to hold back from offering their houses for sale for fear of launching into a market bereft of buyers; some buyers might decide to delay for fear of Mark Carney’s assessment of the worst-case scenario coming to pass.

Most likely though, is that after a brief period of stagnation, the market will recover. Our motivation to move on in life, both literally and metaphorically, will result in market activity as up-sizers, down-sizers, out-of-towners and second-homers all remember the reasons why they want to sell or buy; after all, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.