London’s house prices have slowed to their lowest annual growth rate in almost a decade. The capital’s sluggish property market is bucking the upward trend seen across the rest of the UK.
At just 1.0 annual price growth in the year to February 2018, London’s growth rate is the lowest since September 2009 when it was a negative 3.2 percent at the height of the credit crunch.
The latest figures from the UK House Price Index compiled by the Office for National Statistics and the Land Registry showed that average house prices in the UK rose by 4.4 percent in the year to February, down from 4.7 percent on January. The average house now costs £225,000 – £242,000 in England, £153,000 in Wales, £144,000 in Scotland and £130,000 in Northern Ireland.
However, London house prices dropped by 1.0 percent in the year to February, a slowdown that began in mid-2016 and one that means the average home in the capital now costs ££471,986, down more than £16,000 from its July 2017 high of £488,247.
Capital outstripped by other regions
While London house prices are on average much higher than elsewhere in England and indeed the rest of the UK, the fall in its house price growth is in marked contrast to other regions. The West Midlands registered the UK’s highest annual growth, prices rising in the area by 7.3 percent in the 12 months to February 2018. The east Midlands were just behind with house price growth of 6.3 percent.
The Land Registry data examines house prices by property type. In London, flats in particular are falling in value, their average price dropping by 3.4 percent. Detached properties and terraced homes rose in value in the 12 months to February, from £887,959 to £915,162 and £482,631 to £489,639, respectively.
While the slowing rate of growth is disappointing for anyone looking to sell, those keen to buy in London will see this as an opportunity they can use to their advantage.
Talk to the experts in conveyancing for London at Capital Conveyancing today on 0207 406 5880 to see how we can help with your purchase or sale.
More homeowners are quitting London for towns within commuting distance of the capital. Estate agent Savills has revealed the commuting hotspots that are attracting those for whom the city is increasingly unaffordable along with those who want to take advantage of the value of their London home to buy a bigger one elsewhere.
In its research, Savills revealed that towns with a good transport hub such as a railway station were in the highest demand, particularly those within a 40-minute journey to central London.
Those towns with good rail links, coupled with an increase in new homes, saw the biggest spike in passenger traffic heading towards London. The likes of Aylesbury Vale Parkway in Buckinghamshire and Didcot Parkway in Oxfordshire have seen spikes in house prices fuelled by an influx of commuters.
House price growth in those areas is 5 percent higher than neighbouring areas over the last five years, according to Savills. And the knock-on effect is that commuting-distance areas with lower-value homes are becoming increasingly popular, particularly those on the HS1 link to Birmingham.
In fact, the commuting distance is now stretching beyond the traditional Home Counties as far Coventry, Rugby and Birmingham itself as people take advantage of regular, fast trains to London without the cost of living in the capital.
Meanwhile, more people than ever before are leaving London, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The number of people in their 30s who are moving out of the capital has risen by 27 percent in the last five years with the traditional commuter belt their destination.
Savills said 14 percent of its new home buyers are those moving from London with 39 percent of them buying a larger property, demonstrating the financial power of London property.
Its report said: “We expect the ripple effect of Londoners moving to the commuter belt to continue. Searching for more space, they are likely to bring London’s equity with them and will be targeting markets with the quickest links to the capital.
“These include established prime locations and up-and-coming areas that are more affordable than their neighbours.
“Yet we also expect the ripple effect to move beyond London’s commuter zone to markets in the Midlands and the north. These markets have seen house prices rise more in line with wages and therefore remain affordable. They will have the most capacity for growth over the next few years.”
Property price growth is on the slide in London. New data has revealed that two-fifths of postcodes in the capital showed a fall in annual property prices, down to 1 percent from 4.3 percent a year earlier.
The figures from Hometrack showed that 42 percent of London postcodes actually had negative house price growth, the worst figures seen in a decade.
Hometrack’s monthly house price index said “weak demand” was translating into a fall in house prices in London. Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s house price growth is now at 8.0 percent with Liverpool just behind at 7.8 percent, followed by Birmingham and Leicester at 7.7 percent.
Of the 46 local authorities in London, 15 saw house prices fall in the last year. The biggest drop was in the City of London (7.9 percent), but property hotspot such as Camden (1.9 percent) and Islington (1.4 percent) also registered a decrease.
Factors impacting sales
According to Hometrack, which analyses the UK property market, there are several factors to blame for the drop in London house prices. Its monthly report stated: “This is a result of tax changes impacting overseas and domestic investors and stretched affordability levels for owner occupiers that have been compounded by Brexit uncertainty.
“Sales volumes are first to be hit when demand weakens, and housing turnover across London is down 17 percent since 2014.
“Prices are next to follow, but the scale of current price falls remain modest.”
While sellers may not be achieving the price they hoped for when marketing their property, falling prices are an opportunity for buyers to secure a better deal. Give the expert team at Capital Conveyancing a call on 0207 406 5880 to kickstart your sale or purchase in London.
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Asking prices for properties in London are dropping, according to figures from home-listing website Rightmove. Its latest report said the sixth consecutive fall in asking prices in the capital suggests London’s boom phase is over.
That means home sellers are becoming more realistic about the price they want for their property, Rightmove said, while those who want a higher price are delaying putting their home on the market, stifling the supply and stopping prices falling even further.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove and housing market analyst, said: “End-of-the-boom prices normally readjust more quickly if there is an over-supply of sellers trying to exit their property investments.
“However, the lack of new listings in the typically pricier more central locations indicates that some would-be sellers are holding back, preventing a glut of competition from forcing prices downwards.
“Cash-rich owners are showing that they are able to sit tight instead of coming to market now and await their hoped-for price recovery.”
London’s housing market lagged behind the rest of the UK for all of 2017 in asking prices and that pattern has continued into 2017. Only the south-west reported a decrease in asking prices in the latest Rightmove report with the rest of the UK seeing an increase.
Rightmove identified Livingston in West Lothian as the town with the fastest sale agreed time of 17 days, with the Warwickshire towns of Rugby and Nuneaton the quickest English towns to agree sales with 21 days.
Mr Shipside added: “London is a myriad of different markets, under-pinned by a historical shortage of affordable supply. Rapid price rises in recent years have resulted as usual in a readjusting market, with overall year-on-year price falls in new seller asking prices of 1 percent.
“If fewer sellers come to market, then competition and downward price pressure will be less. However, unless you have an extra-special property, you may have to sacrifice some of the substantial price gains of the last few years to attract more buyer interest and effect a speedier sale.”
Rightmove monitored 134,556 asking prices from January 7 to February 10.
There are now more than 750,000 homes in the UK worth more than £1 million, making us a nation of growing property millionaires.
Data from online property specialists Zoopla showed that the number of properties valued at £1m plus stands at 768,553. And the town of Guildford in Surrey has the most property millionaires in the country with 5,889. Meanwhile, nearly half of all homes (49 percent) in the Buckinghamshire town of Beaconsfield are valued at £1m or more, demonstrating that the north-south divide is alive and kicking in the housing market.
Those seven-figure plus homes are only 2.7 percent of the entire UK housing stock. But their number has risen by 143,476 since Zoopla last analysed the data in August 2016.
It’s no surprise that London and the south-east dominates the figures. The capital has an incredible 430,720 homes that are worth more than a million, while there are 180,397 million-plus properties across the south-east.
Wales has the fewest property millionaires. There are just 2,223 homes valued at seven figures and upwards there.
Zoopla has also unveiled a new online calculator so users can put in their postcode and find out when their own home might hit that magical million mark.
Lawrence Hall of Zoopla said: “While there might be a greater number of £1 million-plus properties than ever before, the data shows that they still only represent a small fraction of all UK housing stock.
“Our latest tool allows curious homeowners to dream a little and see when their home might hit the million-pound mark.” –
Here are the top 10 UK regions by £1 million-plus properties:
Thousands of London homeowners will continue to face spiralling costs when extending the lease on their property or attempting to buy the freehold because of a landmark court ruling.
Campaigners had brought a case to the Court of Appeal to have the current valuation system thrown out and replaced by a new “fairer” system after a Chelsea-based property company demanded £420,000 from a leaseholder to renew a less with only 23 years remaining.
However, the court dismissed the appeal and said the current system – first developed by surveyors working for Britain’s richest man, the Duke of Grosvenor on his Grosvenor Estate – should stay in place at least until the Law Commission reports on its own review of valuations under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.
In Mundy v Sloane Stanley Estate, surveyor James Wyatt of Parthenia Valuation had argued that the valuation model used by property surveyors to judge what a new lease is worth was out of date. A new statistical model, known as the Parthenia model, was proposed that would reduce leasehold extension and freehold purchases by up to 50 percent.
Leasehold reform campaigners vowed to fight on. Mr Wyatt said after the judgment had been delivered: “Now we need the government to act.” And Paula Higgins, chief executive of the Homeowners Alliance, described the ruling as “deeply disappointing”.
She added: “This ruling means leaseholders will continue to hand over huge amounts to their freeholders for very little in return. The method of lease valuation currently employed is over two decades old and is no longer appropriate.
“The Government must now act to ensure there is a fairer way to calculate leasehold extensions that is not subjective and favours the freeholders over leaseholders. The fight must go on.”
Louie Burns, managing director Leasehold Solutions, said the ruling was “devastating” and he said leaseholders are being overcharged all over England, adding: “The valuations model at the heart of this case estimates that leaseholders are currently being overcharged by £480 million a year. Over the past two decades that’s a staggering £9.6 billion that has been taken from householders due to flawed valuation methods that have favoured freeholders at the expense of leaseholders.”
There are around 4.1 million leasehold properties in England and Wales with around 2.1 million with less than 80 years left on the lease. Of those, around 500,000 are in London.
Leaseholders don’t own the land on which their property stands. Instead it’s owned by the freeholder who charges an annual ground rent and offers a long-term lease, usually decades long. It is when those long leases get close to expiring that householders face increasingly punitive renewal costs.
If you’re buying a leasehold property, you need the right legal advice from the start. Capital Conveyancing’s solicitors panel are experts in the property field and can provide clear, informative advice on leasehold, length of leases and the costs associated with such properties, including ground rent, maintenance fees and service charges.
Call Capital Conveyancing now on 0207 406 5880.
A digital revolution in conveyancing could be on the way, starting at the Land Registry after changes to its rules were announced this week.
The organisation, which holds the title of ownership of all land, property and mortgaged property in England and Wales, is to introduce fully digital conveyancing documents with e-signatures. This will eliminate the need to use paper deeds and could potentially speed up the conveyancing process, where land and property is bought and sold.
The Land Registry is a statutory body and anyone buying or selling land and property, or taking out a mortgage, must have that transaction recorded by them. At the moment the Land Registry holds information relating to more than £4 trillion worth of property and land ownership in England and Wales, a figure that includes some £1 trillion worth of mortgages.
There was a public consultation on the proposed changes last year and now the organisation will introduce its digital registration from April 6, 2018. The digital package will speed up the registration process but place a strong focus on ensuring the registry stays safe from cyber-attackers and digital fraud.
Graham Farrant, the chief executive and Chief Land Registrar, said: “Our customers are central to everything we do, and we want to make dealing with us quicker and simpler by providing more services through digital technology.
“These changes are an important enabler for our digital transformation, and I want to thank our customers for their positive responses to the consultation.”
First-time buyers and home movers are securing mortgage approvals in increasing numbers as they seek to take advantage of still-low interest rates. Figures from UK Finance, the trade association that represents the lending industry, showed steady increases in mortgage lending in its analysis of mortgage trends for November 2017.
A report in The Times said housing market activity could be on the up after a difficult 2017, which saw the first rise in the Bank of England base rate in a decade and a slowdown in properties for sale.
The report added: “The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors had reported previously a sharp dip in the number of people looking to move house and the number of agreed sales over the past year, while the Land Registry said there had been a 15 per cent fall in housing transactions in England in September compared with the same month a year ago.”
In July 2017, estate agents across the UK also reported the lowest level of stocks on their books in four decades.
However, the data from UK Finance is more positive. It compared figures with the previous month and also for November 2016. With £5.6 billion agreed lending for 34,800 new first-time buyer mortgages in the month, November 2017 showed an increase of 15.2 percent in mortgage numbers and 16.7 percent in mortgage funds year-on year.
According to the figures, the average first-time buyer is aged 30 and has an income of £40,000.
Meanwhile, there were 36,200 new home mover mortgages in the month, up 16.8 percent on a year earlier at a funding level of £7.5bn also up 19 percent in the same period. The average home mover is 39 years old with an income of £54,000.
Remortgaging continued to prove popular as 38,4000 homeowners reworked their finances to the tune of £6.5bn.
There was a fall in the number of buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages agreed, with 6,600 new mortgages financed by £0.9bn of lending and 13,5000 new BTL mortgages, valued at £2.1bn.
Paul Smee, head of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “The data shows housing market activity remains buoyant, despite November’s rise in the base rate. Steady increases in lending for house purchases, together with increases in homeowner remortgages, reflect a keenness among consumers to benefit from still historically low interest rates and a highly competitive marketplace.
“In contrast, declines in buy-to-let lending reflect the changing regulatory and fiscal environment for landlord businesses, where some landlords might be inclined to reappraise the viability of their portfolios.”
If you’re a first-time buyer, a home mover or a homeowner looking to remortgage, Capital Conveyancing is your link to fast and comprehensive conveyancing services tailored to the London property market.
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London’s planning rules are being ripped up to increase the number of affordable homes built in the capital. Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced the density limits will be removed to help meet ambitious targets for more housing in the city.
The rule changes aim to boost the number of homes built near borough centres and transport hubs, with more small sites being developed while the greenbelt remains untouched.
Mr Khan’s draft London Plan was launched on November 29. Abandoning the current planning rules in place for residential development, Mr Khan aims to encourage house builders t develop small sites across London’s 32 boroughs in the belief that up to 24,500 new, affordable homes can be created on those smaller projects. The London Plan aims to build 65,000 new homes in London every year.
Higher-density developments will be encouraged close to rail, Tube and bus links.
Mr Khan said: “With London’s population expected to increase by 70,000 every year, reaching 10.8 million in 2041, it’s vital we properly plan for growth with new affordable homes in every area of the capital.
“I am using all of the powers at my disposal in my first draft London Plan to tackle the housing crisis head on, removing ineffective constraints on home builders so we can make the most of precious land in the capital to build more homes in areas with the best transport links.
“My London Plan sets out how we are planning for the challenges our great city faces but crucially focuses on my vision of a London that welcomes growth, celebrates its diversity and ensures every Londoner gets the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”
Councils will consider planning applications for the smaller sites on a case-by-case basis, weighing up the value of the development to their area based on the existing infrastructure. That will allow an increase in the number of homes built, typically between one and 25 houses.
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of business group, London First, said: “London’s success comes from the people who live and work here and we’ve been failing to build the homes they need for too long. By being smart about how and where we build, making better use of land and setting targets that councils can and must hit, the Mayor will help open a door for the countless people priced out of a place to call home.”
And Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders said: “Making better use of the many existing small sites that are scattered over the capital is essential if we are to build the number of new homes Londoners need.”