The North West and Central London property market has seen phenomenal amounts of activity with huge demand for properties; in the first quarter of the year we saw an increase of 82% in our buyer registrations compared to the start of 2013. During the same period, we saw nine prospective buyers register for every new property instruction and in particular we have been inundated by cash rich buy to let investors, as well as first time buyers making the most of Help to Buy and mortgage availability.These buyers are particularly active in Crouch End, Islington, West Hampstead, Highgate and Muswell Hill and are mostly looking for properties under £500,000. Indeed, these sales accounted for 16% of all transactions across North West and Central London in the last six months.
Confidence in the economy, low interest rates and improved mortgage availability are all factors contributing towards buyer activity and in addition to international interest, there has been a huge rise in the number of local buyers looking to invest. This year we’ve seen record numbers of viewings for properties hosting an open day. North London has seen huge levels of interest, with our West Hampstead branch recording almost 100 viewings on just one property and as a result, the gap between asking price and selling price has closed hugely as we find that increasingly properties are selling above asking price.
According to the Land Registry, boroughs such as Islington and the City of Westminster have performed exceptionally well recording an annual rise in property values of 20.6% and 17.5% respectively. In the last few weeks however, we’ve begun to see the market become more normalised with the number of buyers starting to level out. As a result, we should begin to see the sharp increases of the past year begin to stabilise although activity will of course remain high as confidence continues.
In the rental market meanwhile, we have seen increase in demand from corporate tenants, and with many of these tenancies spanning longer term lets of three to five years, landlords feel more secure with many actively targeting this market. We have also seen good demand for homes among families, often those who have sold a property and are considering their next move. School catchments in this sector, for example in Muswell Hill, are a key driver of demand for some addresses and also generate a premium, sometimes by as much as 20%. While many of our areas still have good availability of stock, the family market of West Hampstead is currently experiencing a stock shortage, which might support rental price growth over 2014.