London asking prices in biggest fall since 2009

But Britain's biggest portal reports signs of a 'strong spring market'

The embattled luxury markets of PCL have dragged the average asking price in Greater London down by 1.5% since this time last year, says Rightmove, while the national figure has risen by 2.2%.

That’s the biggest fall seen in London since May 2009, and as you’d expect, some of the most eye-catching movements were noted in the higher-priced five-bed-plus category, where the annual decline has hit 7.3% after a dramatic tumble in April – the average asking price there now stands at £1.49m, down 11.9% from the £1.69m recorded a month earlier. At borough level, Kensington & Chelsea and Camden have taken some of the biggest hits, with annual declines of 10% and 12% respectively.

Britain’s biggest portal now puts the average asking price capital-wide at £649,772, a good £10k below the previous high-water mark. The disconnect between London’s Inner and Outer markets is glaringly evident, with Inner London posting a year-on-year asking price drop of 4.2%, while Outer London notched up a 1.7% increase.

Every region apart from the capital saw an increase last month, although the annual pace of asking price growth has generally slowed, and is now at its lowest ebb since April 2013. Across England and Wales, a 1.1% month-on-month increase took the average price tag to £313,655 – still a record high – while the East of England continues to see some of the strongest growth in the country, with a 5.3% year-on-year boost taking the average asking to £349,269.

Rightmove’s Miles Shipside: “The more discretionary upper end of the market is having to tempt buyers with cheaper asking prices, off-setting the higher purchase taxes in this sector…Demand continues to be strong, but at the right price for the right property.”

On the election, Shipside added: “…any slowdown in activity will be counterbalanced by the market’s current fast pace. Indeed, in locations where choice of suitable property is limited hesitation could mean losing out to others who still decide to act.”

The firm also picks up on signs of a “strong spring market”, including a boost in the number of sales agreed…

Shipside: “Strong buyer activity this month has led to 10% higher numbers of sales agreed than in the same period in 2016. This large year-on-year disparity should be viewed cautiously as the comparable timespan in 2016 saw a drop in buy-to-let activity with the additional second home stamp duty.

“With the growth in household numbers and new-build supply struggling to keep pace, demand is strong and has led to the highest sales agreed numbers at this time of year since the heady pre-credit crunch levels.”

Here’s what Nick Leeming, Jackson-Stops & Staff Chairman, thinks about the data:“Today’s figures demonstrate the blooming of a spring market which appears to be in good health as we see the highest number of sales agreed at this time of year since 2007. First-time buyers are once again underpinning the market, with demand for one and two bedroom homes pushing up annual asking prices by 6.5 per cent.

“The speed and efficiency of the market is also improving – it now takes 14 days less to sell a property than it did at the start of the year which shows that buyers, sellers, banks and solicitors are coming together to ensure the market continues to move. What a pity then that we may be risking this fantastic momentum with a snap General Election that could now result in buyers holding off making any snap decisions of their own until the results are known in June – the start of the traditionally quieter summer period.”