First-time buyers are priced out as number of flats sold in London tumbles

London’s flats have decreased in sales as the prices are out of reach for ordinary first-time buyers, according to new research.

According to figures from Home.co.uk, which analyses data from the Office for National Statistics and property portals, which the number of apartments sold in the capital fell by 47pc in July compared to 12 months previously.

The number of detached properties sold in London fell 5pc in 12 months to July this year, with sales of terraced houses down 8pc. This comes amid a general slowdown in the level of transactions across the country, and particularly in London.

According to the Land Registry, the average price of a flat in London increased by 3.9pc in the 12 months to July to £434,587. The price growth of flats is outstripping all other property types across the country, partly due to a lack of supply, being led by the rises in the capital.

With the slowdown in sales signals that affordability has been crunched and many first-time buyers, who would typically purchase these properties, are sitting on their hands and waiting for a correction in prices. 

While the Government’s Help to buy scheme has allowed many first-time buyers across the country to get on the property ladder with a 5pc deposit, the take-up in London has been far lower. The threshold of £600,000 means that many newbuild properties are too expensive to qualify and analysis by the BBC earlier in the year found that while Help to Buy is used to buy one in three new-build homes outside London, in the capital it is just one in 10.

Other natural buyers of these properties, buy-to-let landlords, have also been squeezed by changes to the tax regime and many are sitting out buying opportunities or selling up their portfolios.

Lucy Pendleton, the founder of estate agency James Pendleton, said: “Solid numbers of people are showing some reluctance at current prices and signaling to all the other market participants they can’t transact unless they come back down to earth.” 

A correction could soon be coming: data from Acadata and LSL property services found that prices in London have fallen the most since the financial crisis. Average property values have fallen 2.7pc in the year to September, the most since 2009.

 

New build vs. Second-hand homes in London: house price report reveals six-figure gap between new and resale flats

There’s a huge gulf between the average price of old and new-build flats in London. New builds can offer peace of mind while ex-councils flats are best for value so weigh up the pros and cons carefully before you buy.

Ex-council vs. new-build prices in every London borough

The six-figure price gulf between new and resale property, and between privately built and former council homes, is revealed in a new study focusing on London.

Research comparing the cost of one-bedroom flats in every borough shows pre-owned homes cost an average £542,715, while a new-build one-bedroom flat costs an average £679,671. That’s 22 percent — or almost £137,000 — more.

An ex-council one-bedroom flat is the best value of all at £396,317 on average, the Hamptons International study shows. This is more than £146,000 — or 31 percent — less than buying a privately built flat, and more than £283,000, or 52 percent, cheaper than a new-build flat.

New build is always the premium buy, for the peace of mind that comes with a modern, well-insulated home, often with such extras as communal gardens and sports facilities. In today’s tricky market some developers are offering good deals such as paying buyers’ stamp duty to stimulate sales, but the property will always come out more expensive with annual service charges on top.

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New — what £350,000 buys you: a flat at Leven Wharf, Poplar, with a terrace and city views but only one bedroom. For sale with My London Home (020 8012 5708)

Not long ago you could have said a new-build flat, bought off-plan, would make you a profit by the time you moved in. The direction of the current market is anybody’s guess because of stamp duty hikes and the fallout from the Brexit vote.

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Adrian Plant, director and head of new homes at estate agents Currell, says: “With the new build, you hope you know that for the first 10 years there will not be any major costs. You won’t need to pay for builders and plumbers, and many developments now come with a concierge to handle maintenance and sort out issues like arranging for parcel delivery or laundry, at a cost of service charges.”

Buyers of older homes pay less to purchase, but often then stump up for renovations and/or extensions. Of course, an older home may bring the bonus of period features such as cornicing, wide staircases, stained glass and Victorian tiled floors.

WITH GREAT VALUE COMES GREATER RISK

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Old — what £329,999 buys you: a second-floor ex-council flat with two double bedrooms in Clapton E5. Former council homes can be great value, but ask locals what life on the estate is like before you commit to buying

Ex-local authority homes are fantastic value but this is the riskiest sector to buy into. Generally, those built before the Sixties and Seventies are higher quality and larger than a more modern home. But on estates blighted by years of underinvestment, flats can be shabby, common areas depressing and getting a mortgage can be a pain.

However, Stephen Lovelady, sales manager at Foxtons’ Pimlico and Westminster branch, says ex-council homes on his patch are often well built, with good security and sometimes well managed. He says most lenders will offer mortgages on ex-local authority homes in central London, although some will not lend on buildings above six storeys, or of poor construction standards.

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Beyond Zone 1, broadly speaking, lenders are happy with ex-council homes in desirable areas and less keen on run-down locations. Buyers must research whether there are any major repairs planned for the block or estate because they, unlike the council tenants, will have to pay a share of the cost. Request a work plan from the local council which will give a five-year list of any projects plus an estimated cost. Your solicitor should investigate any major works when conveyancing your sale.

Communal halls, lifts and walkways are often grim. Bad management, crime, drugs and gangs of teenagers making life a misery are all possibilities on a big estate. A safer bet is a small, low-rise block that’s well integrated into local streets, although this might be more expensive than average.

So before you buy, contact the tenants and residents association to discuss any major problems, knock on doors and chat with residents, talk to the local paper, study police crime statistics and visit the flat during the day and at night.

 

Prices for London Luxury homes predicted to stay flat until after Brexit…

According to Savills, Brexit uncertainty and tax changes weigh on the market. With central London luxury homes are forecast to fall 4% this year and will flatline for nearly two more years.

Sellers in London are being forced to lower their prices: the number of properties worth £1m or more where the asking price has been cut nearly doubled in the first half of 2017 from a year ago. With a 3.2% in the first nine months of this year, and are 15.2% below their peak three years ago. Savills is forecasting 20% growth in central London luxury house prices over the next five years, which is less than half the 52% long-term average seen between 1979 and 2014.

The City to lose about 20,000 jobs from its 350,000 workforces in coming years espects Savills, but believes London will remain a key global financial center and develop as one of the several European hubs for the growing tech sector. They also estimate there were 394,000 properties worth £1m or more across the UK in 2016, down 3.4% from the year before, although the number has more than doubled in the past decade. Almost two-thirds of those homes are in London and a further 21% in the south-east. In Kensington and Chelsea in west London, almost half of all privately owned homes exceed the £1m mark.

Looking beyond the price declines at the top of the market, bloated London property prices have been fuelling an exodus from the capital. The number of people in their 30s who are moving out to the commuter belt or further afield in search of more affordable homes rose 27% in the five years to the end of June 2016, according to official figures. 

Mortgage lending in August hit a one-and-a-half-year high, according to figures from UK Finance, the new trade body for the banking industry. Gross lending rose to £24.2bn, the highest since March 2016 when buy-to-let buyers rushed to complete before a hike on stamp duty, taking lending to £26.3bn. Before that, mortgage lending was last higher in April 2008.

 

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In today’s competitive property market, it can be hard to get ahead. Despite the fact that there is a great amount of pressure on sellers, some of whom may be forced to sell for less than they might have expected, it is still very difficult for buyers to find the right property at the right time. This task is harder still for those looking to buy property for the first time, as they have even fewer homes to choose from and are competing with thousands of other potential homeowners with similar budgets.

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