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London homes take longer to sell than other UK cities

Property owners seeking to sell their homes in London could be forced two wait an extra two weeks compared to other major UK cities, as the capital suffers from weak market conditions.

Residential properties now take 14.5 weeks to sell, more than one month longer than it took to complete a sale in 2016.

Sellers in the London market are accepting offers from buyers that are on average 5.7 per cent below their asking price, up from 1.8 per cent three years ago, according to the latest Cities House Price Index by Zoopla.

The discount to asking prices is even more in inner boroughs, with agreed prices averaging 7.9 per cent below asking prices in central London compared to the 4.7 per cent gap in the suburbs.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Zoopla, said: “Market conditions are set to remain weak in southern cities until pricing levels adjust to what buyers are willing, or can afford to pay.

“London is three years into a re-pricing process, and we expect sales volumes to slowly improve over 2020, while house price growth remains subdued.

“There are large parts of the country where housing affordability remains attractive, fuelled by continued economic growth that supports demand for homes, resulting in reasonable sales periods and only modest gaps between sales and asking prices.”

The strongest market conditions were in Scotland, where homes in Glasgow and Edinburgh sell within five to six weeks as a different system is used for sales transactions and more information is provided to buyers up front.

Glasgow and Edinburgh were also the only UK cities not to register a discount.

Donnell added: “There is a continued polarisation in housing market conditions across the country set by underlying market fundamentals, albeit Brexit uncertainty has been a compounding factor for lower market activity.”

By Jessica Clark

Source: City AM

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London house prices suffer steepest fall since financial crisis

London house prices fell at their fastest rate since the financial crisis in the third quarter, according to Halifax.

Homes in the capital saw their values sink 1.7 per cent year on year, their worst performance since autumn 2009. Meanwhile south east house prices dropped 1.3 per cent.

UK house prices grew at their slowest rate in six-and-a-half years in the third quarter of 2019, the bank’s house price index showed.

The value of British homes rose just 1.5 per cent year on year in the third quarter, a drop from 1.8 per cent in the previous three months. That is its worst quarterly increase since the start of 2013.

That left the average UK house price at £233,808, a drop from the second quarter average of £234,026.

Quarter to quarter, house prices rose 0.4 per cent in the three months to the end of September, versus a 0.4 per cent decline in the three months to the end of June.

Paul Smith, economics director at IHS Markit, which compiled the data, warned the UK housing market is still “fragile”.

He said Brexit uncertainty is stoking fears for buyers and sellers alike.

“Despite the low mortgage rate environment and rising earnings growth helping to ease affordability constraints, UK-wide house price inflation sank to a six-and-a-half year low,” Smith added.

“We suspect that political and economic uncertainty associated with Brexit continues to weigh on the market. This is especially the case in the south of England, where prices are falling and, in the case of London, at the fastest rate since the height of the financial crisis.”

Still, London house prices still remained above £480,000, almost £160,000 more expensive than prices in the south east, where buyers can expect to pay an average £323,055.

By Joe Curtis

Source: City AM

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Prime lettings market in London seeing highest demand or five years

The lettings market in London’s prime property market is improving, with the number of tenancies agreed rising at its highest level for more than five years, new research shows.

Overall tenancies agreed were up by 34% in the 12 months to August 2019, according to the figures from real estate firm Knight Frank and demand has been particularly strong in lower price brackets, with average rental values between £250 and £500 per week up by 3% in the year to September.

While demand is also strong in the super prime £5,000 plus per week market, average annual rental values between £1,000 and £5,000 per week are declining, and Knight Frank’s report says that this reflects more subdued demand among senior corporate tenants.

The data also shows that month on month rents in the prime central London lettings market have increased by 0.1%, quarter on quarter they were up by 0.5% and they are now just 0.1% down from September 2018.

In the prime outer London residential market rents are down by 0.1% on a monthly and an annual basis but quarter on quarter they increased by 0.3%.

The report says a decline in the level of new lettings listings in the prime central London market has moderated as more property owners respond to current levels of political uncertainty by letting rather than selling.

‘The impact has put downwards pressure on rental values, however the strength of demand has kept the average annual change broadly flat over the last 12 months. Record low interest rates have helped to underpin market liquidity and mean that a growing number of buyers are fixing for longer periods of time,’ the report says.

‘Some 96% of all mortgages issued in July were fixed rate, with the percentage of five year fixed rate mortgages climbing to 47%, which compared to 27% in the same month two years ago,’ it adds.

Source: Property Wire

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Londoners pay highest UK house price premium to live closer to a station

London home buyers are willing to pay almost 10 per cent more on a house in order to live closer to a station, according to Nationwide.

The building society found Londoners are willing to pay a whopping 9.4 per cent premium for a house located 500 metres away from a station.

That amounts to approximately £42,900 based on averages London house prices.

Data shows that – naturally – this premium falls the further away from a station a house is located.

A property located 1,250 metres away commands only a 1.9 per cent premium. At 1,000 metres this increases to 4.1 per cent and at 750 metres the premium rises again to 6.6 per cent.

London homebuyers are willing to pay much more to live closer to their nearest train station – particularly in comparison with inhabitants of Greater Manchester and Glasgow.

Nationwide suggests that “this probably reflects the greater reliance on public transport in the capital, with residents less likely to drive”.

In comparison to London’s 9.4 per cent, a premium for a property 500 metres from a station in Manchester stands at 7.8 per cent, or £12,600.

This falls to 3.8 per cent, or £5,700, for properties 500 metres from a station in Glasgow.

Average London house prices on every Tube line

While Londoners are willing to pay a premium on a home closer to a station, their average house price differs greatly depending on what Tube line they use.

Average house prices in London are most expensive where the nearest station is the Circle line, where the average cost of house is £801,000.

TfL rail serves the least costly homes, at an average cost price of £359,000.

Of the London Underground lines, average house prices are least expensive where the nearest station is on the Metropolitan line, at a £439,000 average.

Nationwide suggests that “this probably reflects that the line stretches towards the outer suburbs, with only a short section in central London.”

London house prices on every Tube line:

LineAverage House Price
Circle£801,000
Bakerloo£624,000
Victoria£573,000
Northern£563,000
Jubilee£553,000
Hammersmith and City£524,000
Docklands Light Railway£505,000
Overground£490,000
Piccadilly£485,000
District£478,000
Central£450,000
Metropolitan£439,000
TfL Rail£359,000

By Emma Tyrrell

Source: City AM

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Lack of homes to rent supporting growth in London lettings markets

A scarcity of lettings stock is supporting rental growth in the prime property market in London, but high levels of renewals resulted in fewer new lets in the second quarter of 2019.

The LonRes prime London lettings index recorded a 2.3% rise in achieved rents in central London, a 1.4% increase in prime fringe, and a 0.9% fall in prime London overall compared with the second quarter of 2018.

The data also shows that 34% of properties let had a rent reduction before securing a tenant, down from 39% in the second quarter of 2018 and 47% in the second quarter of 2017.

In the prime central London market the average rental value in the second quarter of 2019 stood at £50 per square foot.

Looking ahead, 50% of respondents to the LonRes agent survey expect rents to rise over the coming 12 months while 5% thought rental values would stay the same and 15% expect them to fall.

The report also reveals that gross rental yields have been increasing annually since the fourth quarter of 2017 across the three prime areas. Over the past five years rents in prime central London have risen 6% while house prices have fallen by 13.4%.

Demand from prospective tenants is rising. Some 47% of respondents to the survey reported an increase in applicants registering in the second quarter of 2019 while 13% saw a fall, compared with the first quarter of the year.

Properties priced at £1,000 per week or below were most in demand while agents reported less interest for homes priced at £3,000 per week or more.

Stock remains scarce. In the second quarter of 2019 new instructions across the three prime areas fell 4.3% compared to the second quarter of 2018 and compared to the second quarter of 2016, new instructions have fallen by 22.9%.

New lets agreed over the first three months of 2019 fell 12% compared to the same period a year ago. In prime central London they were down by 3%, in prime they were down 11% and in prime fringe by 20% compared to 2018.

‘This year, with a Tory leadership contest and Brexit negotiations stalled, many would-be movers could have postponed their decision to transact. In some areas they did, yet in prime central London more properties changed hands this year than last, with sales up 3% on the second quarter of 2018,’ said Marcus Dixon, head of research, LonRes.

‘In the lettings sector, agents reported an increase in demand this quarter. This, coupled with an ongoing lack of stock, meant rents rose again this quarter, up 2.3% on the same three months last year. But, with renewal rates remaining high, less stock came back to the rental market, resulting in another fall in the number of new lets this quarter,’ he added.

Source: Property Wire

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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