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Sales of prime central London properties continue to fall but prices pick up

Transaction volumes in prime central property have dipped further as a result of changes in residential taxation, Brexit and global economic uncertainty, according to research from London Central Portfolio (LCP).

Home sales in prime central London were down 21% in the 12 months to December, based on calculations by LCP using Land Registry adjusted sales and Lonres data.

The percentage fall in transactions last year was significantly greater after the first three months as buyers rushed to beat the April deadline for the new additional rate 3% stamp duty. In fact, it is estimated that more than a quarter of all 2016 sales took place in March, whilst half of all sales for the year took place during Q1.

But despite the highly reduced level of activity, average prices have increased on the back of a shortage of homes coming onto the market in prime central London, fuelled mainly by growth at the lower end of the market.  

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.

Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Soho put in the strongest performance, showing a 19.7% increase in prices over 2015. Price increases were also recorded for prime central London’s other lower value areas, such as Notting Hill & Bayswater (11%), Pimlico (2.9%) and Westminster (2.6%).

Naomi Heaton, CEO of LCP, commented: “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.”

She added: “Contrary to this dynamic, LCP's new analysis demonstrates the price correction which has taken place for the more traditional, luxury areas of prime central London. Unlike the lower values areas, these markets have been hit harder by the succession of new taxes. Historically, they witness more volatility in periods of political and economic turmoil.”

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