A view from London

22nd April 2016

The London residential property market started well for the first 6 weeks of 2016 after a subdued 2015 since then, the market moved rapidly from a sellers to a buyers market. The catalyst was the Prime Minsters’ annoucement of the referendum on our EU membership but underlying contributing factors including: the global ecomonic turmoil, the Chancellor’s increase to stamp duty to first and second homes that were introduced respectively in December 2014, and on April 1 and now the fallout from the Panama Papers. This uncertainity has led to increased supply and a reluctance of potential purchasers to commit, even to viewings. Vendors in the capital, who need to sell, have had to reduce their asking prices in order to do so.

However the cooling of the London market has led to a 37% increase of applicants registering to us, over the last 2 months, looking to move out of London. If you’re living in London, you will have benefited from high price rises but it is unlikely that you can not upsize in the same area due to stamp duty costs and the borrowing restraints. To get this extra space, growing families are looking outside of London. This is something which has been gaining momentum over the last few years, as prices have risen. We have recently researched the reasons why people move out of the Capital. The majority of applicants move out for their children, either for schools or a better quality of life. Affordability and lifestyle change have jumped up the list. Modern mobile technology has also enabled greater flexibility to work from home; either part or full time. As travel within London becomes more congested more people are realising that communting from the country can take less time than from their existing London base. The average London commuter now spends up to 40 days a year traveling to and from work with bus speeds that rival a horse drawn carriage – meaning the journey to work may be taking longer than 100 years ago. For example the 4.1 mile trip from Hammersmith Broadway to Piccadilly Circus takes 37 minutes on a No 9 bus. In 1906 it took 28 minutes on a petrol motor bus and 38 minutes on a horse-drawn carriage. Those who will have to commute daily, will remain within 1 1/2 hours of the Capital. Lifestyle movers will tend to move outside the commuter belt and live in the more scenic, coastal or rural areas.

The country market is much stronger, with greater demand and a healthy supply of properties. We expect the country market to out perform London over the coming year and the increase of enquiries is good news for 209 offices across the UK.

Bob Bickersteth
Director

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