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London house prices plunge at fastest annual rate since 2009

London property values fell by 4.4% in the year to May – the biggest decline since August 2009, the ONS and Land Registry said.

House prices in London have tumbled at the fastest annual rate since 2009, official figures show.

London property values fell by 4.4% in the year to May – the biggest downward slide for the capital since August 2009 when there was a 7% fall.

Housing market experts blamed Brexit uncertainty combined with “punitive” stamp duty costs.

Across the UK as a whole, house price growth remains slow, with northern areas and Wales seeing stronger growth, the report, released jointly by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Land Registry and other bodies said.

Average UK house prices increased by 1.2% in the year to May, slowing from a 1.5% increase in April.

The average UK house price stood at £229,000 in May.

While London house prices fell over the year, the area remains the most expensive place to purchase a property with an average price of £457,000.

The report said London house prices have been falling over the year since March 2018.

ONS head of inflation Mike Hardie, said: “Annual house price growth remained slow but was once again strong in the North West and Wales.

“However, London experienced its biggest annual fall since August 2009.”

Average house prices increased annually by 3% in Wales to reach £159,000; by 2.8% in Scotland to £153,000; by 1% in England to £246,000 and by 3.5% in Northern Ireland to £135,000.

The North West was the English region with the highest annual house price growth in May, with values increasing by 3.4%. This was followed by the West Midlands, where house prices increased by 2.7%.

While prices fell in London by 4.4% over the year to May 2019, affordability is still an issue for those buying in the capital and South East as prices remain relatively high compared to incomes

Jonathan Harris, mortgage broker at Anderson Harris

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: “House price growth is slowing as sentiment continues to weaken, partly as a result of Brexit uncertainty.

“While prices fell in London by 4.4% over the year to May 2019, affordability is still an issue for those buying in the capital and South East as prices remain relatively high compared to incomes.

“Mortgage rates remain low and continue to support transactions. Re-mortgaging remains strong as many people stay and improve rather than footing the considerable bill for a move to another address.”

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, said: “The South West (where prices increased by 2.6% annually) and North West have shown reasonable growth over the past year and are propping up UK average property prices.”

Annual change in UK house prices
(PA Graphics)

Sam Mitchell, chief executive of online estate agent Housesimple, said: “House price growth remained somewhat subdued in May, but this does not tell the whole story…

“London’s price fall has plagued the UK average partly due to uncertainty but mainly because of the punitive stamp duty regime, while slowdowns in the South and East of England over the past three years have also taken their toll.

“Yet economic factors that underpin the property market are looking strong.

“Plus, the housing market is still showing sturdier than expected signs of resilience amid political uncertainty.

“Low unemployment and historically low interest rates are leading to high demand from buyers supporting house price growth, particularly in the North West and West Midlands.”

Marc von Grundherr, director of lettings and estate agent Benham and Reeves, said: “Although price growth may remain muted, these ‘slower’ markets are still home to the highest property prices in the UK.”

Source: Express and Star

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Plummeting London sales and flat house prices fail to deter foreign buyers

Foreign buyers are returning to London property despite the subdued state of the housing market, according to new figures.

Property prices are still falling in Greater London, with the latest LSL/Acadata house price index showing a 0.2% annual drop in April.

Sales have also plummeted in and around the capital, down 12% in the three months to April compared to the same period in 2017.

But foreign buyers “have returned in numbers” to the London market, according to a report by Peter Williams, Acadata’s chair, and John Tindale, its housing analyst.

International investors are taking advantage of lower prices and favourable exchange rates as they bet on future growth, “taking the view that this is a good long-term investment.”

The market is also picking up among British buyers and sellers, particularly “those prepared to take a risk or who must move,” according to the report, released on Monday.

With Britain’s scheduled exit from the EU delayed from March of this year to October, and no end in sight to the political crisis, people are “taking the plunge” to buy or sell.

“With seemingly no immediate end in sight to the political situation in Westminster, there is some evidence that pent-up demand held back by events of the last few months is breaking through,” the report said.

Record levels of employment and recent wage growth will also give some households more buying power, amid strong competition in the mortgage market and low interest rates, according to the report. But it notes many would-be buyers are still struggling to get a mortgage.

The rate of decline in property prices in London has narrowed significantly as demand has risen over the past few months.

In February, prices were 3% down on a year earlier, but by April this year the decline had dropped to just 0.2% on April last year.

Sales volumes are also down across England and Wales compared to 2017, but up 3% on 2018.

English and Welsh figures for house prices show prices ticking upwards 0.3% over the year, a rise of around £1,000.

By Tom Belger

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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London housing market rebounds slightly after Brexit delay

The London housing market showed signs of bouncing back last month as sentiment rose to its highest level since April 2017, according to the latest forecasts.

Negative trends in agreed sales, prices and new instructions all eased in May after the Brexit deadline was extended to October, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) latest housing market survey revealed.

Despite fresh optimism, the survey showed that house prices are still expected to fall over the next twelve months and sales expectations remained downbeat.

When it came to London house prices, 29 per cent more respondents predicted a fall than a rise in May, up from the April net balance of -59, which RICS said showed the pace of price decline slowing.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “Some comfort can be drawn from the results of the latest RICS survey as it suggests that the housing market in aggregate may be steadying.

“However much of the anecdotal insight provided by respondents is still quite cautious, reflecting concerns about both the underlying political and economic climate.”

In the lettings market, tenant demand rose slightly but landlord instructions fell, causing near term rental expectations to jump to their highest level since May 2016.

By Callum Keown

Source: City AM

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London house price growth falters despite annual spring surge

House prices in London remain down year-on-year despite the annual spring surge, driven by a slump in inner city sales, according to property website Rightmove.

Greater London recorded a monthly rise of 1.2 per cent, equivalent to £7,339, pushed largely by outer London properties that rose 1.9 per cent. Inner London prices, meanwhile, registered a bump of just 0.6 per cent.

“Price increases are the norm at this time of year, with only one fall in the last ten years,” Rightmove’s housing analyst Miles Shipside said.

“New seller asking prices have risen at this time of year for the last four years, and this year it seems that sellers in outer London are leading the way in asking for higher prices. Given the uncertain state of the London housing market in both London and its surrounding commuter belt, it remains to be seen how successful they will be.”

Compared to 12 months ago, homes in outer London are 0.9 per cent cheaper, whereas prices in inner London have fallen by 3.8 per cent. Homes in Greater London were, on average, £16,157 – 2.5 per cent – cheaper than they were a year ago, and cost, on average, £621,589.

All but two boroughs have new sellers asking less on average than a year ago. Only Barking and Dagenham (+0.9 per cent), in east London, and Bexley (+0.6 per cent), in the south east, have held their year-on-year value, and they were the two cheapest boroughs last month.

Nationally, the more active spring market prompted a modest increase to an average asking price of £308,290, a rise of 0.1 per cent in the past 12 months.

“I’ve noticed an increase in viewings and offers over the last few weeks,” Jak Kypri, director of Harpers & Co Estate Agents in Bexley, said. “I think it’s because there is less talk about Brexit. Things have calmed down now; they all went away for Easter, the sun is shining, people are cutting the grass in their gardens, the country seems slightly less tense.”

Rightmove’s monthly price index measured 133,690 asking prices this month, about 90 per cent of the UK market.

By Sam Buckingham-Jones

Source: City A.M.

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London house price crash: is it all down to Brexit?

House price growth across the country has slowed to just 0.7%, according to the most recent Nationwide release. That’s a drop in real (after-inflation) terms.

Meanwhile, transaction levels have risen slightly in the last year – 64,340 new mortgages were approved for house purchases in March, just 430 more than in the same month in 2018 – but they remain decidedly sluggish.

What dread apparition has rattled Britain’s favourite asset class? Could it be possible that you can go wrong with bricks’n’mortar?

“Brexit” is the go-to excuse for those in the property business, much as “unseasonal weather” is the go-to excuse for troubled fashion retailers.

But the reality is that the problems in the UK housing market are a lot bigger than mere Brexit…

The increasing weakness of the UK housing market

Earlier this year, London estate agent Foxtons issued yet another set of grim results. The group abolished its dividend as profits were wiped –  down from £6.5m in 2017 (which was itself half what it was in 2016) to a loss of over £17m in 2018. The big hit came from the what the chairman, Gary Watts, called the “prolonged downturn” in the London property sales market to “record lows” (although lettings business revenue rose by 1%).

London has certainly been the hardest hit part of the UK housing market.  At the high end, discounts on asking prices are at their highest levels since the financial crisis, according to LonRes.

However, according to the most recent survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), activity is slowing across the country.

You can put it down to Brexit; you can put it down to political uncertainty. And both of those might be affecting the higher end of the market, in that the globally mobile super-rich are becoming less willing to buy luxury property in an era where populist governments might be tempted to tax non-portable assets.

But there’s a much more specific reason for house prices to be struggling, and it’s one that isn’t going to change any time soon. It’s the fact that one of the biggest and most powerful purchasing forces in the UK market of the past decade is being squeezed out of the market.

Between changes to buy-to-let taxation and higher levels of stamp duty, becoming a landlord is no longer seen as the sure route to riches it once was. And that is having a big effect on the UK property market.

Landlords are going to keep feeling the squeeze

The additional rate of stamp duty on those buying second homes is one factor putting off would-be landlords. But more important is that the ability for higher-rate taxpayers to offset their mortgage interest payments against their tax bills is being withdrawn in stages. The squeeze began in 2017, and it will be entirely withdrawn by April 2020.

The upshot is that it’ll be far harder for landlords to make the sums add up. It’s also become harder to secure a mortgage as a buy-to-let landlord, partly as a result of this and partly as a result of generally tighter mortgage lending rules. The figures make it clear that this is already having an effect.

In 2017, according to estate agency Countrywide, landlords bought 12.5% of homes sold in the UK – a nine-year low – compared to 14.7% in 2016, and 16.3% in 2015. The biggest drop was in London. Meanwhile, the proportion of landlords buying in cash has been rising sharply.

The abolition of tax relief isn’t the only issue facing landlords. Buy-to-let mortgages are typically interest-only loans. That is great news when interest rates are this low – your monthly payments amount to buttons because you aren’t repaying any of the original capital.

However, it means you feel the pain of rising interest rates much more acutely than anyone with a repayment mortgage: because your entire payment is made up of interest, your bills will go up proportionately more when rates rise.

In short, if rates do rise – even a little – between now and 2020 (which seems very likely at the moment), then landlords are going to be squeezed even harder, between falling tax relief and rising rates.

While some landlords have already woken up to this, human nature means that many others will only realise just how much their property is costing them when they fill in their tax returns in years to come. For some, the resulting figures will come as a nasty shock. (The nice thing is that the government can expect a capital gains tax bonanza, according to accountancy group RSM, which may partly account for the current relative health of the public finances).

The only realistic conclusion is that we’ll see a bigger exodus from the sector and more than likely, the end of the era of the “accidental-turned-permanent landlord”. And the point is, this is not going to change any time soon. Soft Brexit, hard Brexit or no Brexit, this is a structural change.

A house price crash seems unlikely – but a boom seems even less likely

The good news is that this leaves the field open to potential owner-occupiers. The tricky bit is getting from where we are now to a point where those first-time buyers can actually afford to buy the property.

You see, landlords always had more buying power than first-time buyers. Not only were they generally already property owners and both older and more established, they also enjoyed big tax advantages.

With that gone, competition on the demand side of the property market has fallen. Meanwhile, on the supply side, at the margins, some landlords will be squeezed out of the market – some may even be forced sellers.

What will happen to house prices? As long as interest rates stay relatively low (and they could go up a bit from here and probably still not do too much damage), then the idea of a huge house-price crash still seems unlikely.

But equally, there’s little reason to expect prices to rise. Whichever government runs the country for the next ten years or so, it’s clear that increasing housing supply is a major policy goal now. Interest rates can’t get any lower, so it’s hard to see how credit conditions can get any easier. And physical property is going to remain a tempting target for taxation.

In market terms, most of the risk is to the downside. And just to be clear, we’d heartily welcome lower house prices and a more sensible UK housing market. Let’s just hope the adjustment happens gently enough for our financial system to cope.

By: John Stepek

Source: Money Week

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London slump drags UK house price growth to more than six-year low

British house prices rose at the weakest rate in six-and-a-half years in February, dragged down by London’s biggest price slump in a decade as Brexit uncertainty sent chills through the property market.

Official data also showed Britain’s consumer price inflation unexpectedly held just below the Bank of England’s 2 percent target in March, offering relief to consumers whose spending has helped Britain’s economy through the Brexit crisis.

House prices were just 0.6 percent higher in February than a year ago, slowing sharply from a 1.7 percent annual rise in January, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

In London, house prices were down by 3.8 percent — the biggest drop since mid-2009. The malaise in the capital spread to the south-east of England, where prices fell for the first time since 2011.

Other surveys have shown Brexit to be a major drag on the property market in the capital, which is sensitive to flows of migrant workers from the European Union. A surge in prices in London in previous years has also stretched affordability.

House prices in London are now 6 percent below their mid-2017 peak, albeit a smaller contraction than an 18 percent decline during the financial crisis.

“It is possible that the avoidance of a ‘no deal’ Brexit at the end of March could provide a modest boost to the housing market through easing some of the immediate uncertainty and concerns,” said economist Howard Archer from consultancy EY ITEM Club.

“However, we suspect it is more probable that with Brexit most likely being delayed until Oct. 31, prolonged uncertainty will weigh down on the housing market and hamper activity.”

INFLATION STILL SEEN RISING

Separately, the ONS said consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in March, the same rate as in February. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a rate of 2.0 percent.

Sterling slipped against the U.S. dollar and the euro on the figures, while British government bond prices rose slightly.

Rising motor fuel prices were offset by falling food prices and computer game prices rising more slowly than they did a year ago, the ONS said.

Looking ahead, improving wage growth and poor productivity in Britain’s economy are likely to push inflation above the BoE’s 2 percent target by the end of 2019, said economist Andrew Wishart from consultancy Capital Economics.

“Nonetheless, with another Brexit crunch point looming in October and growth likely to be modest this year, we doubt the (Bank of England) will press ahead with another interest rate hike until next summer,” Wishart added.

BoE policymakers have said they want to see firm evidence of domestic inflation pressure – chiefly from rising wages – building before they vote to raise rates.

They will likely be reassured by Wednesday’s data that showed costs faced by factories for materials and energy – which eventually feed through to consumer prices – rose more slowly than expected in March.

Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

Source: UK Reuters

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Stamp Duty hikes pushing more London landlords out of their home city

Increasing numbers of landlords who live in London are looking beyond the capital for buy-to-let returns.

Analysis by Hamptons International – based on activity at Countrywide branches – found that 59% of London-based landlords purchased their buy-to-let property outside the capital during the past 12 months.

In contrast, in 2010 just one in four London-based landlords purchased their buy-to-let outside the capital, with 75% investing in London.

However high house prices in London mean that the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge is particularly significant in the capital, and are pushing buy-to-let investors further out.

The proportion of London-based investors purchasing buy-to-lets in their home region has fallen 17% since 2015, the agent said.

The capital is still the most common area, favoured by 41% of London landlords, but 34% now invest in the north and the midlands, which is up 19% on 2015.

Meanwhile, the analysis found the average cost of a new let in Great Britain rose 1.9% annually to £969 per month in March.

This was driven by a 3.7% rise in Greater London to £1,737 per month, the highest level on record.

Scotland was the only region where rents fell, down 0.1% year-on-year.

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International, said: “April marks the three-year anniversary of the Stamp Duty surcharge introduction for second-home owners.

“Following the tax hike, landlords have been adapting their strategy to find new ways to make their returns. Lower entry costs and higher yields outside of the capital are enticing investors to look further afield than they have previously.”

Region

Where London-based landlords purchase buy to lets

Change since 2010

Change since 2015

London

41%

-34%

-17%

South East

11%

5%

-2%

East Midlands

10%

8%

6%

East

10%

-1%

-2%

North West

9%

9%

1%

Yorkshire and the Humber

6%

6%

6%

West Midlands

6%

5%

2%

South West

3%

-1%

1%

North East

2%

2%

1%

Scotland

1%

1%

1%

Wales

<1%

0%

0%

 

 

 

 

North and Midlands

34%

30%

19%

By MARC SHOFFMAN

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Still places in London offering 5% rental yields

Despite clouds of uncertainty hanging over the London market, there are still pockets of the capital like the E6 postcode in East London that offer rental yields as high as 5%, London sales and letting agent, Benham and Reeves has found.

Benham and Reeves looked at data from PropertyData based on the average property price and rental potential of each postcode.

It found the E6 postcode in East London is the best bet for buy-to-let investors in the capital along with IG11 located a little further east covering Barking – with both offering a rental yield of 5%.

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “The DNA of the London rental market is so complex that it pays to consider where to invest on the most granular level possible when looking at the buy-to-let market.

“There are a whole host of factors that mean the rental desirability of a property can literally change from one street to the next but one of the best starting point to work from is the rental yield available.

“Despite the government’s attempts to dampen the appetite of the sector it remains a lucrative business and for those with the time to commit to it, there are plenty of buy-to-let honey pots out there that will bring a great return on your investment.

“Of course, London’s more prime postcodes are always a safe bet, attracting investment due to their prestigious image and positioning.

“While we may have seen some decline in price growth due to political uncertainty, they remain very much in demand from a rental point of view and so for those with the budget to buy there, a return isn’t hard to come by.

“They also offer better capital growth then London’s peripherals and for those not completely dependent on yield but preferring to opt for more long-term growth, inner London is still the go to place to invest in the capital’s buy-to-let market.”

In fact, this eastbound stretch of London dominates the top 10 most lucrative London buy-to-let postcodes, with RM8, RM9 and RM10 also amongst the best with rental yields of 4.9%.

N18, which straddles the North Circular, is one of the only postcodes outside of East London to make the list with a rental yield of 4.8%. RM13 ranks next with SE28 the only postcode south of the river to appear. E15 and EN3 complete the top 10.

Outside of London, the best in Britain is the L7 postcode in Liverpool with an average price of just £105,000 the area offers an average rental yield of 10.7%.

This is closely followed by the neighbouring L6 postcode where yields are currently 10.4% with Middlesbrough, Manchester, Bradford, Sunderland, Newcastle, Sheffield and Nottingham also home to some of the best postcodes for the highest rental yields.

By Michael Lloyd 

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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London property market predictions over the next 12 months

It’s no secret that the London property market has been subdued recently, but the fact that, in spite of everything, it has refrained from crashing does highlight the fact that the market is underpinned by solid foundations. That said, the London property market in 2019 is likely to be characterised by overall caution and stability rather than growth. The team at property investment firm Hopwood House look ahead to what the next 12 months might have in store for the London property market with three specific predictions.

Sales volumes will slow as buyers wait to see what Brexit will bring

Even though Brexit itself need not turn out to be a complete catastrophe, the uncertainty around the form it will eventually take can, understandably, make buyers very nervous. In principle, this issue should be resolved, one way or the other, by the end of March. If that is the case, then growth may start to return to the market towards the latter end of 2019, once buyers have had a chance to adjust to the new reality. In practice, however, there is also a feasible possibility that the negotiating period will be extended beyond the given deadline, which could lead to a longer period of uncertainty and hence subdued activity in the London property market. On the plus side, this could ultimately be of long-term benefit to everyone if it results in a better deal for the UK.

House-price growth will remain subdued

Brexit is the most obvious reason why it is unlikely that there will be major house-price growth in London for the immediate future, however there are others. For example, the London authorities have made it a priority to address the chronic shortage of housing, particularly affordable housing, through a programme of home-building, which has had the (presumably intended) effect of helping to put a brake on house-price growth. It’s also worth noting that the last 10 years have seen certain parts of London benefit greatly from the regeneration brought about by the 2012 London Olympics and other, separate, infrastructure improvements, such as Crossrail, with the result that there was unusually high house-price growth in these areas. At the current time, no such major developments appear to be in the pipeline, hence it is only to be expected that house-price growth will proceed at a slower pace, although, as always, it is to be anticipated that some parts of London will perform better than others, for example, the Notting Hill market continues to be very robust.

The rental market will be highly competitive for tenants

On the one hand, you have people who need a place to live in London, but who do not wish to buy right now. On the other hand, you have a vastly reduced number of rental listings as compared to 2018. This obviously creates a challenging situation for tenants even before factoring in the likelihood that the opening of new tech hubs will draw even more people to the capital. It will be interesting to see if this imbalance in the rental sector will lead to the government looking to encourage buy-to-let investors to focus on the capital and, if so, what form this encouragement will take.

Source: London Loves Business

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London needs micro-homes to solve the housing crisis

Everyday, thousands of city workers are forced into excruciatingly long commutes from the outskirts of London, because living in the city centre – and, frankly, most of the capital – is simply unaffordable.

Micro-housing would allow Londoners to commute less and live more. Never mind if that’s more time to join a gym class, meet friends at restaurants, catch a show or a Spanish class. What matters is that it’s more time for you, and less time stuck on the train or in a car.

Housing is the most crucial problem facing London.

In the past 20 years, London’s population has grown by 25 per cent, but the number of homes has only grown by 15 per cent. More people and not enough housing has pushed up prices, creating an affordability and ownership crisis.

The proportion of income spent on housing has grown from one fifth of incomes 15 years ago to one third of incomes today. If you’re among the city’s lower earners, it’s highly likely to be taking even more of your pay packet.

Because of high housing costs, many are forced to endure insufferably long commutes, live in overcrowded share flats or, most worryingly for the economy, leave the city altogether.

The loss of capable people has serious ramifications for Britain’s economic productivity. All too often people end up taking lower paid jobs elsewhere, which hold them back and mean that they are less productive.

Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti from the University of Chicago estimated that US GDP is 13 per cent lower than it otherwise would be because people are not able to live where they would be most productive.

The damage to the UK’s GDP from people living where they are not the most productive is likely to be even higher.

The housing crisis is not just an economic policy problem – it also has serious political ramifications.

Housing affordability issues, particularly among young people, are damaging trust in the entire free market system. This is driving young people into the hands of extremists like opposition leader

Jeremy Corbyn, whose interventionist policies would only make things worse.

Which is where micro-houses come in. Currently blocked by housing guidelines and local authorities in the UK, this creative solution could help ease some of pressure on the market.

As urban policy researcher Vera Kichanova makes clear in a new paper for the Adam Smith Institute, when it comes to housing, small is in fact beautiful.

Micro-homes are nothing like what you are imagining. They are not cramped sub-divisions of existing units. Rather, micro-houses are stylish, modern homes that use space intelligently. They win prestigious architectural awards. They often include shared game rooms, gardens, co-working spaces, living areas, and additional services. They help combat loneliness with group activities and communal spaces.

In short, they are perfectly suited to the fast-paced inner-city lifestyle craved by many millennials.

There is no standard definition of micro-homes, but they can perhaps be best understood as purpose-built homes that are below the existing 37 square metre space standards for an apartment.

Micro-housing projects have been a huge success in New York City, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and, in the few cases they have been allowed because of legal grey areas, London.

Carmel Place in New York City, which was completed in 2016, contains apartments that are just 24 to 33 square meters. The project won an award from the American Institute of Architects.

London is home to The Collective Old Oak, the world’s largest micro-apartment building, which offers 546 private units and a wide array of communal spaces.

Micro-housing is not a substitute for more fundamental planning reform, such as ending the prohibition on building out or adding extra storeys on famously short London buildings. And it goes without saying that nobody should ever be forced to live in a micro-property.

However, the choice should be available for those who prioritise living closer to work and entertainment over a large house in the suburbs.

These smaller properties would ensure that the land in the city centre is used more efficiently, providing an important piece of the puzzle to address London’s housing crisis.

It is the responsibility of local authorities, particularly in central London, to think more creatively about how to deliver more housing. They can start by abolishing arbitrary restrictions on room sizes, and declaring themselves open to micro-housing.

This would encourage architects and builders to propose such projects across the city.

In designing housing guidelines, local authorities should remember: it’s not the size of your home that matters, it’s how you use it.

Source: City AM