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Prices for prime central London plummet during 2018

Monday 11 February 2019

NAEA Propertymark Protected firm London Central Portfolio (LCP) has released their 2018 report covering prime central London and Greater London in detail, and the rest of England and Wales. They say the latter part of 2018 has seen prices and sales plummet.

The Residential Index 2018 Report is based on every transaction for full market value recorded by HM Land Registry in England & Wales, including prices of properties bought with cash and new builds, as opposed to statistics based on asking prices, mortgage approvals, or selective samples. The index tracks residential property prices and transactions within England & Wales, Greater London and Prime Central London.

Naomi Heaton, CEO of LCP provides the analysis below:

Prime Central London

Average annual prices in December for Prime Central London (PCL) now stand at £1,844,031. They have fallen six per cent over the month and 10.2 per cent 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 per cent 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.

Greater London

Average prices for Greater London in December 2018 were £619,888, falling by 1.1 per cent 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 per cent for 2018, the lowest level since the GFC.

Transactions for 2018 amounted to 86,869, a drop of 7.1 per cent over the year. Sales in the capital have now declined for four consecutive years amounting to a fall of 27 per cent.

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 per cent over the final quarter.

The average price for the last 12 months was £257,668. This represented annual growth of just 2.8 per cent for 2018, the lowest since 2013.

Transactions for 2018 stood at 783,913, a drop of 3.7 per cent 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 per cent.

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.

Download the full 2018 report