Prime property buyers in London down by 30%, new data suggests

Taylor Scott International News

London’s residential prime property market is seeing fewer buyers than a year ago and stock levels are up by 60%, according to new data. The December market barometer from Douglas & Gordon shows that buyers are down by 30% but prices are holding up with values down only 15% year on year. The firm says that this is an indication that the appetite to move amongst prospective vendors is still there but there is clear evidence to suggest that political uncertainty ahead of next May’s general election is playing on buyers’ minds. It also says that vendors are waiting until after the election to put their house on the market in the hope of greater stability and records a resurgence of gazundering for the first time since 2009. ‘Significantly, the fall through rate is down, so buyers are showing tenacity in securing their property. It’s unlikely to become a common trend however, as most sellers are happy to wait for the return of market stability post-election, although the broadly beneficial Stamp Duty reforms could signal a return of confidence even earlier, said George Franks, sales director. ‘In this new paradigm, when the world economy wobbles, London smiles and, given international deflationary pressures and interest rates remaining low long term, we anticipate next year as being very good for both the prime and emerging prime markets,’ he added. The lettings market is proving to be the polar opposite of sales with applicants up 33% and stock down 30%, indicating that 2015 will sustain the recovery of rental values that has been so eroded in recent years. An uncertain sales market has helped to bolster activity with 26% fewer tenancies ending compared to this time last year, signalling that tenant are staying put, according to lettings director Virginia Skilbeck. She pointed out that at the beginning of December the first phase of the ‘right to rent’ scheme came into force in the West Midlands, whereby landlords will face fines of up to £3,000 if they fail to check on the immigration status of their new tenants. The Home Office says it expects to continue with the phased introduction of the scheme across the UK next year, but she does not expect a decision on whether it will be extended throughout Britain until after the general election in May. ‘Seasonally, the beginning of January is a very busy time in the lettings calendar and with some of our offices having half as many properties available to let compared to this time last year, combined with a surge of applicants registering in the New Year, we can expect to see increased competition for fewer available properties,’ she said. Continue reading →

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