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The introduction of a new stamp duty propertytax structure in December, the forthcoming general election and the spectre of a mansion tax have created a level of uncertainty within the UK’s prime property market, it is claimed. New research from prime central London agency W.A.Ellis, a JLL company, shows a sharp reduction in prime central London transaction levels. The firm compared sales transactions within Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Belgravia and Kensington post code areas and found that transactions in January 2015 fell by 34% compared to a year ago. This reduction is most sharply felt within the house sector, with only nine sales occurring in January 2015, contrasting with 25 in January 2014, a reduction of 64% and the firm has seen a large number of houses being withdrawn from the market as discretionary sellers adopt a ‘wait and see’ more cautionary approach until after the election. The research also shows that while the transaction levels have dropped year on year, the average rate per foot of all the houses sold across the postcodes has remained stable at around £1,800 per foot. ‘Comparing year on year transactions within the same month only provides a snapshot, but the overriding sentiment at the upper end of the market is undoubtedly one of caution until the political path becomes clearer,’ said Richard Barber, director at W.A.Ellis. ‘At the lower end, however, we predict an increase in activity from the over 55s, releasing deposit monies from pensions to fund either buy to lets or investments for their children and we expect this to have a strong upward effect on the market between £200,000 and £1 million,’ he explained. He also explained that whilst the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) has had a curbing effect on the amounts that first time buyers can borrow, the so called bank of Mum and Dad is likely to subsidise the shortfall in mortgage funds, particularly as the market in equities and gilts is looking unpredictable. The firm’s research also shows that the prime central London lettings market saw a flourish of activity in the first week of January, followed by a steady stream of enquiries, viewings, and subsequent new tenancies. The firm forecasts that central London rents will rise 3% over the course of 2015. ‘January saw activity across the entire breadth of the market, with well-presented one and two bedroom properties letting with relative ease. Substantial houses gained much deserved attention, too, from families who have, no doubt, been hibernating over the Christmas period,’ said Lucy Morton, director and head of agency. She pointed out that demand for new build property, particularly in W2's prized Merchant Square development, is most definitely on the up, and the firm is seeing tenants’ expectations on quality of finish and furnishing increase considerably. ‘Stock levels remain high as many would be vendors with pre-election nerves opt to list their properties on the rental… Continue reading →
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