6th April 2016
Sales were driven by buyers trying to beat the 3% stamp duty surcharge but year on year growth slowed to 0.8%, the lowest figure for more than six years, according to the latest report from real estate firm Knight Frank.
The incentive to act before the April introduction of the new stamp duty rate on additional homes was one of the reasons Knight Frank sales volumes in March exceeded last year’s figure. This bucked the trend of the first quarter of 2016, where volumes were flat in January and marginally down in February. However, the other factor at play is a marked slowdown in the rate of annual growth over the last 18 months.
‘It is the result of a series of tax changes and a preceding period of exceptional growth, which is also a topic that is increasingly covered by the media. As a result, there is a growing recognition on the part of vendors that the prime central London property market is no longer on the upwards trajectory it was in the years following the financial crisis,’ said Tom Bill, head of London residential research.
‘As vendors become more attuned to current market conditions and adjust asking prices, the effect is to drive demand. Asking prices are typically declining by in excess of 10% to attract price sensitive buyers,’ he explained.
Despite the bounce back Knight Frank forecasts a 2% decline in western markets but it predicts a 5% growth in markets east of Mayfair and south of the River Thames in 2016. But growth is increasingly polarised. In higher value western areas around Hyde Park, recent tax changes have had more of a dampening impact. Meanwhile, the opposite is true in traditionally lower value markets including Islington and the City and Fringe.
A breakdown of the figures show that prices increased by 8.2% in Islington and by 8.1% in City and Fringe. Price also increased by 3% in Southbank, by 2.9% in Riverside, by 2.6% in Mayfair, by 1.8% in Kensington and by 1.2% in Marylebone. Prices were unchanged in St Johns Wood but fell by 6.8% in Knightsbridge, by 4.9% in South Kensington, by 3.5% in Hyde Park, by 2.5% in Chelsea, by 0.8% in Notting Hill and by 0.2% in Belgravia.