The latest data and analysis from London Central Portfolio has revealed that annual transactions in the capital during 2018 fell 16.4% to 3,514, the lowest ever recorded and down over 46% against 2014.
Naomi Heaton, CEO of LCP said, “Average annual prices in December for Prime Central London (PCL) now stand at £1,844,031. They have fallen 6.0% over the month and 10.2% over Quarter 4 2018.”
Whilst prices have increased marginally over the year, this is not a cause for optimism. It is attributable to greater activity at the higher priced end of the market where the most significant discounts are available. This skews average prices upwards but even this “high-end” effect is tapering off as activity stalls.
There were just 3,514 recorded transactions in 2018, fewer than 68 sales a week. This represents a fall of 16.4% over the year and sales are now below the previous all-time low seen during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). There were just 57 new build transactions in the last recorded quarter.
The political turmoil the UK is currently weathering is being acutely felt throughout the country, but nowhere more so than in PCL. With the Prime Minister’s deal being voted down and no clear cross party consensus, it appears we are now even further away from a post-Brexit road map. This continues to dampen investor sentiment.
However, from a buyer’s perspective this period of low competition and suppressed prices is an excellent opportunity. The fundamentals that underpin the desirability of PCL as a global destination have not changed.
Those who still believe in these fundamentals are able to acquire properties at material discounts, with the potential for significant uplift in the medium to long term.
Average prices for Greater London in December 2018 were £619,888, falling by 1.1% over the final quarter.
This is lower than the average price seen in June 2017 when the Prime Minister held a snap general election. At the time she declared that it was “the only way to guarantee certainty and security for the years ahead”. With the benefit of hindsight, this has not been the case.
The average price for the last 12 months to December was £615,625, representing annual growth of just 1.3% for 2018, the lowest level since the GFC.
Transactions for 2018 amounted to 86,869, a drop of 7.1% over the year. Sales in the capital have now declined for four consecutive years amounting to a fall of 27%.
This decline coincided with the introduction of graduated SDLT and the Mortgage Market Review which had a disproportionately negative impact in Greater London, where average house prices are significantly higher than the UK as a whole.
More recent political and economic events have added more fuel to the fire and there are very few signs that this is likely to change. With Brexit looming, the property market is desperate for some positive news to restore confidence.
England & Wales
Average prices in England and Wales (excluding Greater London) stood at £262,126 for December, a fall of 0.7% over the final quarter.
The average price for the last 12 months was £257,668. This represented annual growth of just 2.8% for 2018, the lowest since 2013.
Transactions for 2018 stood at 783,913, a drop of 3.7% over the year. This is the largest annual fall since the GFC as a ‘wait and see’ attitude towards moving house or investing becomes ever more prevalent.
Whilst transaction levels have fallen ever since the introduction of Additional Rate Stamp Duty in 2016, undoubtedly the uncertainty around Brexit is having a far more punitive effect than increased buying costs. This negative sentiment has also spilled into the new build market where growth in annual transactions is just 3.6%.
With no positive news of late, coupled with the infighting within the parties and government, it is difficult to foresee any significant changes to current market sentiment. Unity and clarity would now go some way to restoring confidence not only to the property market but to all facets of UK enterprise.”