Black Brick notes some ‘green shoots of hope’ across the prime postcodes.
Few were predicting a bouncy start for the housing market in 2023, but agents are making increasingly encouraging noises about activity levels across the prime postcodes.
Knight Frank’s central London offices recently reported an exceptionally high volume of offers being received for the time of year; buyer registrations have also been tracking above pre-pandemic levels.
PCL buying agency Black Brick has now told of a 60% jump in new client enquiries in January, compared with the same month in 2022.
‘There are definitely green shoots of hope’, says Black Brick’s Camilla Dell
The firm, which acquired more than £100mn of property on behalf of its clients last year, said the surge “suggests a potentially busy year ahead”.
High numbers of enquiries have been coming in from across the UK and the Middle East, although buyers from the USA, Bermuda, and Oman are also active. There has also been a “new wave of interest” from China, now that Beijing has opened its borders.
The latest batch of search briefs range from two-bed pieds-à-terre at £2mn, all the way up to £50mn family homes.
It seems one area of PCL is proving especially popular: “We are still very, very busy with buyers looking for holiday homes. In times of global uncertainty, there is always a flight to quality and Mayfair has benefitted a bit from that. People feel really safe buying property in Mayfair.
“Also Mayfair has really come into its own as the leading area within prime central London and there is very limited supply on the market.”
Camilla Dell, Black Brick’s Managing Partner: “I definitely think that there is a lot less doom and gloom than there was last year in the aftermath of the mini budget. People feel that inflation has peaked, and mortgage rates are looking more sensible.
“I think that there are definitely green shoots of hope.”
Caspar Harvard-Walls, a Partner at the agency, noted a “real sense of urgency” amongst UK buyers: “What we are hearing from agents is that their buyers are really focussed. Some of them are keen to be able to use mortgages they have had agreed at lower rates than they would get now.
“We also still have a hangover of people who have not moved house for a very long time, first because of Brexit, then the pandemic, and they are now just feeling it is time.”
Knight Frank’s latest index shows average prices in Prime Central London were flat in January, leaving the annual increase at 1.2%. A dip of 0.1% was recorded in Prime Outer London on a monthly basis, putting annual growth at 3.6%.
Prices in PCL are currently 1% below their March 2020 level, and 5% higher in POL.
The market is expected to face its big test in the spring, when more transactions tend to take place, and against the backdrop of a much-altered lending landscape.