The only certainty about the London housing market, it seems, is that the first three months of this year are going to be bleak.
Property industry experts are forecasting a muted first quarter in the build-up to Britain's official withdrawal from the European Union at midnight on March 29 as vendors hold back, hoping to achieve a higher price later in the year after Brexit chaos has subsided.
Robert Butterworth, head of research at estate agents Jackson-Stops London, agrees: “At present, a significant amount of buyers and sellers in London are holding off on making decisions before firm agreements have been made. We expect to see transactions increase unless the Brexit deal is particularly bad, as it is often economic and political stability that guides both sale and purchase decisions for clients - particularly in the central London market.”
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO HOUSE PRICES?
New figures from the Office for National Statistics show a steady decline in annual growth rate month-on-month over the last two years. Although the data has a six-week lag it’s widely considered to be the most accurate of the indices.
House prices increased in the year to October 2016 but gradually inflation has slowed and hit negative territory. Prices fell -0.31 in the 12 months to October 2018, giving an average house price in the capital of £473,609.
December Rightmove data shows a drop in asking prices which could translate into actual falls in the annual growth rate in the run-up to March. Henry Pryor predicts a four per cent fall in London house prices in 2019. Savills forecasts a two per cent drop, as does Strutt & Parker.
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