Londoners thinking of selling their homes appear to be postponing their decision until after the result is known of the General Election on December 12.
The number of homes put on sale during this month is down by a resounding 26.9 per cent compared to new listings in November last year, research by Rightmove shows.
Rightmove blames a powerful triple-whammy of political uncertainty, Brexit and the traditional seasonal slowdown.
”Our monthly poll of the housing market shows a clear swing towards hesitation for prospective sellers, with buyers losing the extra choice that thousands more newly marketed properties would bring,” says Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s housing market analyst.
Sales numbers are also falling – although only slightly, as London buyers take advantage of asking prices down by 1.4 per cent – or £8,926 – in the last month. Across the UK asking prices fell 1.3 per cent in the same period and are unlikely to revive until the New Year at least.
“Near-term uncertainty will exacerbate the traditional lull in activity in the run-up to Christmas,” predicts buying agent Camilla Dell, managing director of buying agents Black Brick.
“This lull can present an ideal opportunity for buyers to strike. With only seven weeks to go before Christmas, vendors can become desperate to close a deal, and other buyers may be distracted with their festive preparations. Our view is that this can be the best moment to strike.”
Walter Mythen, a director at estate agents JOHNS&CO, agrees. “There has never been a better time to negotiate a good deal,” he says. “Within reason, many developers and individual sellers are open to fair offers so it’s always worth asking.”
Rightmove’s November house price index found that the average property in the capital now has a price tag of £609,506. The asking price for a home in Zone 1 stands at just over £1.3 million, but you could pick up a home in Zone 4, 5, or 6 for between £465,000 and £488,000.
The best-performing individual boroughs over the past year have been in east London, led by Tower Hamlets, with asking prices up 3.5 per cent to an average of £592,000. Homes in Waltham Forest, Bexley, Hackney, and Havering also saw modest annual price growth, along with those in Southwark and Sutton.
But two thirds of the capital’s boroughs have seen prices decline in the past 12 months, led by three leafy south-west London boroughs: Richmond upon Thames (down 6.1 per cent), Kingston upon Thames (down 5.9 per cent), and Wandsworth (down 4.5 per cent).
In the longer term, Savills’ influential five-year house price forecasts, published this week, suggest that average prices in London will increase by four per cent by 2024, while prices in the South-East will leap by 10.9 per cent.
It believes that prime central London will lead the recovery, with price growth of 20.5 per cent over the next five years, cancelling out the misery of similar price drops experienced since 2014.