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The average price of greenfield land in England and Wales fell by just under 1% between April and June, according to the latest sector index. The 0.9% fall was a more moderate decline than the 1.8% fall recorded in the first quarter and it takes the annual fall in prices to 2.4%, the residential development land index from Knight Frank shows. However, the market remains localised. Development land prices in prime central London, for example, are up by 0.9% in the second quarter of the year and up 12.1% on an annual basis. Prices have returned to levels last seen in Autumn 2013. The firm’s index report says that prices reflect the fact that house builders have had access to relatively higher levels of consented land in the last few years because of the National Planning Policy Framework which has allowed them to top up their supply of land. As a result, house builders and developers are more selective about the sites they are now choosing to buy. There is a shortage of supply of consented greenfield land in some areas of the Home Counties due to the planning system for example, and a resulting premium for the sites that do come on the market. The report says that in central London there is still good demand for development land, although buyers are applying more detailed criteria before making offers, with a bigger consideration being paid to build cost inflation. ‘The sales market has returned to more normal conditions, along with absorption rates, and this is being reflected in a slowing in the growth of development land prices,’ said Gráinne Gilmore head of UK residential research at Knight Frank. ‘While there are also signs that build cost inflation, which has risen sharply over the last 18 months, is now levelling off, developers are still having to factor these higher costs into their offers. In addition, house builders are generally maintaining their margins, and this is weighing on land prices,’ she explained. ‘However there is still strong competition in areas which are considered to have real opportunity for growth, these include areas in outer London, and particularly for sites where completed units can be delivered for less than £1,000 per square foot,’ she added. Continue reading →
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