An investment specialist has revealed that sales of Prime Central London properties fell by 21 per cent year-on-year in December, though prices were some 4.4 per cent higher.
Demand remains strong from foreign buyers, though it seems domestic investors may be beginning to look elsewhere for value and returns.
Whilst changes in residential taxation, Brexit and global economic uncertainty resulted in notable sales falls in Prime Central London (PCL) in 2016, prices remained resilient, suggesting that most homeowners opted to hold onto their properties, rather than sell, says London Central Portfolio (LCP).
Naomi Heaton, Chief Executive Officer of LCP, says, “Despite the series of new taxes impacting the market and uncertainty due to Brexit, the more up and coming areas of the market have remained attractive to buyers, particularly foreign investors, looking for good value in the face of weakening sterling.
“It is clear that in the current market, London’s centre of gravity has shifted from the traditional, luxury enclaves to the areas with lower entry prices, future growth and gentrification potential – and where tax increases have been far less painful. Stock in these areas also tends to be made up of small flats which are commercially rented. If buyers are unable to achieve their price expectations, they will generally hold and rent their asset, supporting prices.”
The percentage fall in transactions, calculated by London Central Portfolio based on Land Registry adjusted sales and Lonres data, was significantly greater after the first three months of the year.
As buyers rushed to beat the April deadline for the new additional rate Stamp Duty, it is estimated that over 25% of all 2016 sales took place in March, whilst half of all sales for the year took place during the first three months.
Despite this highly reduced level of activity, average prices have increased. According to LCP’s analysis, Land Registry demonstrates a 4.5% price increase to October 2016 and Lonres reports a 1.3% increase across the year.
Meanwhile, activity outside of London could be on the rise. The latest reports in the Deloitte Real Estate Crane Survey series monitor construction activity in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Belfast. Each city has seen a significant uptick in development across a range of sectors including: offices, residential, hotels, retail, education and student housing.
Birmingham has also witnessed a 10-fold increase in residential schemes starting construction last year, totalling 2,331 units in the city centre.
Moving north, Manchester’s city centre is flying the flag for city-living with a record 22 residential projects breaking ground on site last year. This was eight more than the previous high of 14 in 2007 and is scheduled to deliver nearly 7,000 units to the market.
The Northern Powerhouse’s skyline continues to evolve with the addition of four residential towers over 25 storeys high, all now under construction. This includes the UK’s tallest residential tower, marking a new era for the Manchester housing market.
In Leeds, city centre residential construction remains modest with only three new residential schemes starting last year.
Deloitte’s first Belfast Crane Survey recorded a healthy 19 schemes under construction and 11 schemes completing in 2016. This included four new educational facilities, seven new student accommodation projects, six office developments and eight new hotels.