At the end of 2016 we reported that the formerly invincible London home market had suffered its biggest crack in years, when home prices plunged the most in six years according to Rightmove. Asking prices in London dropped 4.3% in December with inner London down 6%. Meanwhile, the most exclusive neighborhoods, like Kensington and Chelsea, recorded even sharper declines at nearly 10% as home buyers migrated to cheaper areas of the city.
While it was unclear what was the catalyst: whether post-Brexit nerves, China’s crackdown on capital outflows, the ongoing depressed commodity market, or reduced migrations by wealthy Russian and Arab oligarchs, what is obvious is that the slump has continued, and according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, its price balance for the city fell to the lowest since February 2009 last month, plunging to minus 49, which means that a greater percentage of agents reported drops in March.
Still, as Bloomberg reports, more respondents than not still expect prices in London to rise over the next year, the report showed. they may be disappointed.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics said that the London measure tends to represent the prime market rather than the city as a whole. The slump in the gauge tallies with other reports of sellers in central London having to cut prices to close deals. Nationally, the RICS price index stayed at 22 in March, though the expectations for both values and sales over the next year weakened. New buyer inquiries and sales were stagnant, with the most expensive properties among the worst performers, according to report.
While buyers – especially those relying on mortgages – remain largely locked out of the market because of high prices, nervousness about Brexit and the U.K. outlook, price downside according to realtors may be “limited because of the continued shortage in the supply of property to buy, with estate agents’ listings reportedly at a record low.“
Which is odd because a cursory check reveals not only that there is a glut of high end properties, many of which have been on the market as long as a year, but that despite huge discounts as high as 40%, nothing is moving, and just this one listing service has no less than 124 pages of properties – at 15 properties per page – with price declines in Kensington and Chelsea alone, up from “only” 53 pages when we last looked at the same website back in December.
“High end sale properties in central London remain under pressure, while the wider residential market continues to be underpinned by a lack of stock,” said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist. “For the time being it is hard to see any major impetus for change in the market, something also being reflected in the flat trend in transaction levels.”