We'll soon be finding out which party, or parties will be elected to form our new government. It’s not unusual for an election year to distort levels of activity within the housing market, and indeed, 2015 has so far seen the usual slowing of buyer activity as prospective purchasers wait to see how the result of the election will affect them.
According to the Land Registry, average values across London increased by 11.3% in the last 12 months and remains the best performing region in the country. Outside of core central London, the market is even more buoyant, especially in boroughs Newham and Greenwich, which recorded the highest annual growth in prices at 19.4% and 18.8% respectively. This is unsurprising considering the additional costs now associated with higher value homes. Increases in stamp duty and uncertainty over property taxes at the upper end means that many potential buyers are holding back until the ramifications are better understood post election.
Compared with the early part of 2014, when buyer appetite far outstripped supply, we are now seeing a return to more ‘normal’ and balanced market conditions, which is really benefitting buyers. As a result, the number of properties we are marketing has risen by 25% compared to last year and our branches have registered an average of 4.9 buyers per new instruction, compared to 6.9 registered buyers in 2014.
Regionally, our North West and Central London branches have 38% more properties on their books, and the number of viewings continues to increase month by month. Continued price growth in central London has seen many buyers looking further out to areas including Finchley, Muswell Hill and Highgate as they offer large, family homes and good transport links.
In South East London, the market remains active, with 68% of properties sold in the first quarter going under offer within four weeks of marketing. Demand for first time buyers and investors has also increased, accounting for 47% of our registered buyers this year, which has increased demand for lower to mid priced properties. Forest Hill, Catford, Deptford and Lewisham are increasingly popular, and have all seen an average price growth of between 1.5% and 3% per month.
Our South West branches have had a busy first quarter compared to 2014, where there was a chronic shortage of available properties. We are therefore seeing the formation of chains this quarter, as buyers and sellers are once again able to align their onward purchases. Our branches now have 34% more properties available to buy, with the £500,000 to £1million price bracket being the busiest. Demand continues to rise in traditionally popular areas such as Dulwich Village, Battersea and Putney, while first time buyers now account for 41% of all registered buyers. Locations such as Tooting and Raynes Park have been key areas among this market.
For more information about the sales or lettings markets in London, read our latest Spring 2015 property market analysis.