Autumn 2022 Market Update

Autumn 2022 Market Update

Weakening Sterling – Uncertain Implications for Central London

The markets have not reacted well to the government’s uncosted ‘mini budget’.

At the time of writing, Sterling is down 17% against USD in the past year. The below table highlights the declining value of London property in USD, and Euros to a lesser extent.

Prime London Values Converted into Different Currencies (Source: LonRes)

Overseas buyers can expect to be inundated with press releases telling them now is the time to buy. However, on the ground, there is mixed sentiment on whether London is ‘On Sale’. Several of our Dollar based clients are happy with the increasing discount while another family office foresees more downward pressure on Sterling this year. As LonRes’ Autumn reports notes, ongoing currency weakness “reflects the lack of appetite for UK-based investment irrespective of asset class.”

Buyers will have to accept a degree of uncertainty in both the FX and property markets if they wish to transact.

Volatile currency movements underline the importance that global clients buy and hold for the long-term, ideally for at least 5 years and preferably ten or more.  This was already the case due to the high upfront Stamp Duty costs, including the 2% non tax resident surcharge. One client recently opted for a three over a two bedroom flat to ensure they don’t need to move in the short-term.

A Tale of Two Markets? 

Since Covid, the UK’s property market has performed very strongly overall but a downturn is looking increasingly likely.  The average two year fixed mortgage rate reached its highest average for 14 years this week and Halifax foresees “significant downward pressure” on the market.   

For buyers in Prime Central London, the key question is will the area continue to diverge from the wider UK market. There is not the same heat to come out of the market but that doesn’t make it immune to an economic downturn.

The below table illustrates how sold prices for flats and houses in Marylebone are both below 2017 levels – and that’s before factoring in real term losses due to inflation.  We see more vulnerability in family neighbourhoods in Zone 2 and beyond such as Dulwich and Chiswick which have comfortably outperformed central London and won’t be supported by a weak £ to the same degree. 

Achieved Prices by Year: Marylebone & Medical Territory (Source:LonRes)

The Role of Due Diligence 

We recently previewed an opportunity for a client near Sloane Square. With a short lease and in need of a turnkey renovation it was far from a simple proposition. After consulting two leasehold valuation experts, a solicitor and contractors, we established extending the lease and a turnkey renovation would cost in excess of £850,000. Our clients, already busy with a major development elsewhere, decided the time and financial cost was too great and opted for a simpler option we had previewed earlier. 

On another search earlier this year, we made several preliminary inquiries about a lease before advising our clients to walk away. 

Such due diligence forms a significant part of our work. It mitigates the risk of a lender down valuation,  or a solicitor or surveyor not recommending the purchase later. Since starting the we have had a fall through rate of less than 10% while estimates for the national average are 30%. 

If you have any questions about your London property search or the general market, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected] or  +44 (0)208 0880 522

Spring 2022 Market Update

London Property Finder

2022 Market Update

Record Year for Perrygate and Future Plans 

Since opening in 2018, last year was our best yet. 

In addition to a slight majority of domestic buyers, we acted for buyers from Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, mainland Europe and the US. 

Pleasingly,  we have started to secure repeat business from some of our first clients. We are on the verge of exchanging contracts for a repeat domestic client based outside of London who was so happy with our initial purchase, they have decided not to view the second one in person.

In total we completed four entirely remote purchases last year. In all instances, ensuring clients were fully briefed on live market conditions and the strengths and weaknesses of an opportunity was crucial. This gave them the confidence to proceed at the right price. Despite an often volatile sales and rental market in 2021, we are still yet to have a down valuation from a lender’s valuation survey but we can’t promise to keep this record forever! However, I hope it is reflective of the level of due diligence put into all offer recommendations.

In the coming years we will keep our bespoke, consultative approach. Our motto to “treat each purchase as if it were our own” is central to the business. In practice this means never prioritising commission over a client’s interests and always provide completely impartial advice. We will continue working with a maximum of only four clients at any time. 

Launch of Negotiation Only Service

This month we formally launched our ‘Negotiation Only’ service on the site.

On several occasions, we have been approached by buyers engaged in stressful negotiations in need of an objective third party opinion.

While we successfully completed negotiations on a few purchases, perhaps our most important input has been advising clients when to walk away. Our negotiation advice has saved buyers in excess of £100,000 on high value transactions. Recently, we were approached by clients feeling pressured to meet a high asking price on a Marylebone property. They had previously lost out on a bidding war but the flat had just returned to the market. Our due diligence quickly identified several issues and we cautioned our client against going close to their previous ‘Best and Final’ offer. Ultimately they walked away but our £1,000 fee saved them from making a very expensive mistake. 

Our 0.5% success fee means we are confident of adding significant value to any prime purchase. 

It’s important a buying agent’s advice is truly consultative and not 'deal driven'.

Fitzrovia – One to Watch 

Fitzrovia has traditionally not been the prettiest of areas bordering Prime Central London. Questionable commercial developments in the 60s and 70s sit uncomfortably alongside attractive period stock. However the area’s mixed appearance has been a blessing in disguise. It has led to Camden Council adopting a relatively relaxed planning policy. The area is now benefitting from ambitious mixed-use developments such as 101 on Cleveland and 14-19 Tottenham Mews. 

At the height of lockdown we purchased for a client on a prime street at a very competitive price. Now the area is coming back to life, we would struggle to achieve the same result. 

We are finding the area is proving particularly popular with buyers under 40. The ease of access to the major tech offices in Kings Cross (including Facebook and Google) is increasingly important and the dining scene is surpassing nearby Soho. 

At quite attractive prices per square foot, we see the area outperforming the majority of central London postcodes over the next decade but due diligence on an individual purchase is key, especially if you are considering one of the areas many new builds. 

Nine Elms Struggling – But Fringe Opportunities 

In contrast, last year there were reports Nine Elms  was struggling to attract buyers. It is a reminder that new builds or off plan property are rarely priced correctly – especially when marketed towards overseas buyers. Expertly designed marketing brochures often cloud reality.

We frequently recommend clients buy on the outskirts of such regeneration projects. That way they can benefit from an uplift in an area while avoiding new build premiums which, like a new car, often disappear after purchase. 

Interest Rates Rise in Context

The Bank of England’s marginal 0.15% base rate increase to 0.25% dominated financial headlines for days in late 2021. This is indicative of how ultra-low interest rates have become the status quo in most Western economies. 

Faced with ongoing inflation, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Bank of England introduces further incremental raises throughout 2022 but we aren’t expecting a return to pre 2008 rates anytime soon. 

Historical UK InteresT RATES

The BoE's Interest Rate Rise in Context

Return of city centre living?

Rightmove recently reported demand for city centre flats outperformed houses in the autumn market. This does not surprise us as we have had inquiries from those who moved to the countryside at the beginning of the first lockdown and are now missing London. Central London’s rental market is also quickly recovering to pre-Covid levels and is far less volatile than 6 months ago. 

It is hard to say where society will eventually fall on the ‘work from home’/ ‘return to the office’ spectrum but it’s important to remember that London offers far more than commercial space. Most buyers we work with cite the city’s architecture, parks,  cultural and educational institutions as driving factors. While London is expensive by UK standards, although the gap with the rest of the country has narrowed, buyers from other global cities now see value in certain postcodes, especially in Prime Central London. 

If you are looking to buy in London or simply have any questions about the market, don’t hesitate to get in touch at                        

[email protected] or +44 (0)208 0880 522

London Property Finder

Summer Market Update

London Property Finder

Summer 2021 Market UpdatE

Landmark Month for Perrygate 

Perrygate recently had its best month since opening in 2018. In the space of 30 days, we transacted on just shy of £6m of prime London property with significant savings achieved on all purchases. While these are no doubt modest numbers compared to larger buying agents,  it felt like a milestone for our small family business. We are delighted with how clients are responding to our approach and the results we are achieving for them in a complex marketplace.  

It is always a privilege to be entrusted to oversee what is typically one of the most important purchases in someone’s life. To better reflect our ethos to “treat each purchase as if it were our own”, this year we reduced the number of clients we work with at any time from six to four. In the coming years, Perrygate will remain a boutique firm with a first-class network to deliver the best service possible for a small handful of clients. 

The London Market – Contrasting Fortunes 

It’s no secret that the UK property market is experiencing a boom. Nationwide recently reported annual house price growth at 13.4% – the highest level in seventeen years. 

In London, however, the picture is less clear with average house price growth at 5% and significantly lower in Prime Central London – around 0.3%. The lack of international buyers is being felt keenly in central London,  especially for £1m+ one and two bedroom flats. Our searches for smaller central flats have been notably less frantic than for family homes in ‘London Villages’ such as Dulwich and Hampstead.  When international buyers, students, domestic workers and tourists return to London, we expect to see the performance gap between central flats and family homes start to narrow. Several clients are taking the same view and are looking to take advantage of a quiet market to acquire compact but very well located London homes.

Relative Underperformance of London Flats vs Terraced Houses (Source: Land Registry

The Stamp Duty Holiday in Context 

Many have attributed UK house price growth to government stimulus via the Stamp Duty tax break. The SDLT Holiday has clearly boosted sentiment nationwide but we would argue its partial end will not have a huge impact on the market.

Knight Frank reported eleven countries, including the US and Canada, outperformed the UK last year. It is fair to infer that while the Stamp Duty Holiday has clearly had an impact, low interest rates and people reassessing their living situation during Covid are the key driving factors. 

Property – The Ultimate Inflation Hedge?

There is increasing scrutiny of the Bank of England’s assessment that the current inflation spike is “temporary” and a small increase in interest rates may not stem the tide.

Historically, property has been an excellent hedge against inflation. Rents tend to increase in line with inflation and at a time of devaluing currencies, housing remains a tangible and limited commodity. 

This year, we have worked with several clients wary of frothy equity markets and looking for a safe long-term haven for their capital. As a further hedge, some clients able to pay cash are opting to mortgage at low fixed rates. A prolonged inflationary period will erode the real value of the debt but of course figures should be stress-tested against a potential change of course from the BoE’s rate setting committee. 

The Rise of Off Market but Buyer Beware

Hamptons International recently reported more off market transactions in the first quarter of 2021 for any period since 2007. It makes up a significant part of our business, especially at higher budget levels. 

While there are exceptional off market properties, much like the open market, there is also a lot of poor stock. If you peak behind the curtain, you may sometimes be underwhelmed! From our experience the best off market listings come from vendors mindful of privacy and not those testing the market’s reaction to speculative asking prices. 

Going the Extra Mile

Since starting the business, Lara and I have always prided ourselves on building long-term relationships with clients and being on hand well after completion. We frequently work with clients at no extra cost for months after our success fee has been paid.  

In the last few months, Perrygate’s complimentary aftercare services have included:

– a two month process of organising design meetings, sourcing architect quotes and defining the scope for a full renovation of a family home in Hampstead.

– conducting a rental search under time pressure for clients who have successfully used our Buying Service. 

– sourcing an interior designer for a large lateral flat a client purchased in South Kensington. Assisting with numerous other personal affairs for the same client. 

– assisting an overseas client set-up their tax and financial affairs in the UK post-completion. 

We hope our approach will allow us to build long-term relationships with our clients and continue to rely on word-of-mouth referrals for new business. 

If you are looking to buy in London in 2021 or beyond or simply have any questions about the market, don’t hesitate to get in touch on +44 (0)208 0880 522 or [email protected]

London property market update

Spring Market Update

Spring 2021 Market Update

A Budget to Support the Market 

Rishi Sunak’s Spring Budget was a positive one for the property market.

Throughout Q2 and Q3, the government will continue to support the housing market with a range of measures. It clearly sees doing so as central to a sustained economic recovery. 

The extension of the current SDLT holiday until June, after which point it tapers off, will support transaction levels throughout the UK. Of course, a maximum saving of £15,000 has a far smaller impact on central London but it does appear to be supporting market sentiment. 

The introduction of 5% mortgages through a government backed Mortgage Guarantee Scheme and the emergence of 40 year fixed mortgage products will further bolster demand. 

It was perhaps most notable what wasn’t in the budget. There was no mention of Capital Gains Tax on residential homes or any form of property wealth tax.

Such news combined with the performance of the market has seen Savills revise their market predictions. Over the next five years, they now foresee 21.6% capital growth in Prime Central London. Our personal view is that PCL, compared with much of outer London, now represents real value. Retained clients with intimate knowledge of the top end of the market in other global cities are taking the same view. Knight Frank reported that ultra high-net-worth individuals bought more property in London than any other city last year.

New Non-Resident Tax 

One tax deadline not extended was the introduction of a 2% surcharge for non-UK tax residents on April 1st. 

Perrygate completed on purchases on both sides of the deadline with offers factoring in whether the 2% was payable. While this surcharge is an inconvenience, it only places London’s international tax regime in line with other global cities. We do not see it being a long-term deterrent to overseas buyers. However it will likely have a greater effect on the prices in the PCL’s apartment market – particularly in the £2m+ range.  

Successful Remote Purchases

For obvious reasons, there are few international buyers on the ground in central London. It is unclear whether they will be able to return in full force this year. 

At a time of limited travel, a buying agent can gives clients off market access and first-mover advantage. In addition to our work for domestic clients, we have recently secured properties for remote buyers in Hong Kong, Singapore and the US. In each case, our attention to detail and expertise gave them the confidence to proceed. No matter a client’s budget, there is no perfect property. A good buying agent will outline the downsides of a property so clients have a full picture and know if it is the right one. 

Several clients have taken advantage of a quieter market and purchased remotely.

Prime Central London – A Two Speed Market 

Our clients naturally want the best their budget can afford and we search for best-in-class properties for any budget. Particularly in Prime Central London, there is a very clear distinction between such properties which are achieving close to asking price and struggling stock languishing on the market for up to a year – often reappearing in various guises with different selling agents. 

While we are certainly not in a universally ‘hot market’ – there is some gazumping for excellent properties which are in short supply. Part of a buying agent’s role is mitigating this risk. 

As the FT recently reported, the capital’s various house price indices are all flawed in some way. A buying agent on the ground who is putting forward offers on a weekly basis and accessing live price information can give clients the confidence to know they are not overpaying in a fragmented marketplace. 

Diverging Sales and Rental Markets 

The key theme of London property post-Covid has been the differing fortunes of the rental and sales markets. While London house prices have grown over the past 12 months, the rental market is volatile and struggling overall.

Nevertheless, we have recently secured properties for several investor clients.  To ensure our clients clearly understood any opportunity, we provided conservative rental estimates reflecting what was happening in the market. Our due diligence extended to investigating the flexibility of rental asking prices on comparables in the same neighborhood right up till exchange of contracts. 

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If you are looking to buy in London this year and would like to discuss your search, contact us on 0208 0880 552 or [email protected]

London Property Finder

Autumn Market Update

Autumn Market Update

A buoyant market. But for how long? 

London’s post-lockdown market has been significantly busier than we (and the majority of housing analysts!) expected. 

Land Registry data shows market activity towards the end of the summer was stronger than in 2019 and this tallies with our experience. With travel restrictions still in place, the majority of our new retained clients are domestic buyers but we are still seeing strong demand from East Asia. We are currently acting for clients purchasing remotely from Hong Kong and Singapore.

Although the market is relatively busy, it is certainly possible to secure healthy discounts. We have recently taken two properties off the market for less than their previous sold prices, 2 and 3 years ago respectively. In both cases, matching our clients with the right, motivated vendor was key to completing the transaction in a timely manner. However excessive discounts are unlikely in the current market. Low interest rates (with talk of negative interest rates from the Bank of England), a lack of distressed vendors and the SDLT holiday are all giving some support to prices. 

Pleasingly for our clients, there is a strong supply of new properties giving us plentiful comparables to work with. It remains to be seen whether this trend will last towards Christmas. Anecdotally, we have detected a softening of the market over the last few weeks so we will see if this translates into reduced sales activity.  

SDLT deadlines – Closer than you think! 

The SDLT holiday will end on March 31st, 2021. For non-UK tax residents this deadline coincides with the introduction of an additional levy on UK home purchases. 

Whilst this date may seem a long way off, good solicitors may look to stop taking on new business towards the year’s end to cope with what will likely be a hectic period. Local authority searches and mortgage offers may also take longer to process. For all these reasons, we recommend buyers should be looking to take a property off the market no later than early December. Now more than ever, using a cheap conveyancing firm is a false economy which could turn into an expensive mistake. 

Privately, we do not think an extension of the SDLT holiday is beyond the realms of possibility but we should certainly assume the deadline is fixed! 

All eyes on the rental market

While the sales market has been relatively stable, the rental market is proving far more turbulent. 

RICS September report stated:

“London now stands out as the only area in which a negative trend in tenant demand was cited in September.”

This is unsurprising given Zone 1’s dependence on international students, short-term tourist lets and workers prioritising a quick daily commute. Demand from all these groups has fallen significantly.

With no current evidence of a major price correction, investors and home buyers wishing to proceed this year, will have to accept properties with lower potential yields. The key question is where will rents stabilise. We can’t answer that but are ensuring our rental estimates are even more conservative than usual! 

The importance of early due diligence

As a buying agent our main goal is always ensuring the successful conclusion of a purchase. One third of agreed sales in the UK collapse and only half of properties listed in London achieve a sale. The due diligence we undertake on any property prior to making an offer means we have a far higher success rate. If our preliminary inquiries about a property aren’t satisfied, we recommend a client moves on regardless if the property/price is tempting. 

Recent issues identified include unsatisfactory responses regarding a development’s cladding which we knew would concern our solicitors. Another was when a vendor was ready to agree to a sale but it would have meant becoming part of a complex chain liable to collapse. Finally we noticed structural issues with another property. A quick call to a surveyor confirmed this would lead to red flags being raised during a building survey. In all instances, we advised clients mindful of the looming SDLT deadlines to move on. 

Although a buying agent defers to a solicitor and surveyor’s professional opinion, these examples illustrate the crucial role we can play in mitigating potential issues and increasing the likelihood of a smooth transaction. 

Beyond Prime Central London

Whilst we are not seeing strong evidence of a London exodus to the countryside, we are seeing a shift in some search preferences. Lockdown has caused clients to reassess their needs and the lack of a daily commute for many is making areas with a village feel such as Hampstead, Chiswick and Stoke Newington more appealing. Think a spacious 2/3 bed flat in Barnsbury instead of a luxury 1 bed in The City. 

Many commentators announcing the death of London forget that compared to other global cities, we are one of the greenest global cities. Clients looking for a balance of urbanity and nature don’t need to look as far as they would in New York or Hong Kong. 

If you are looking to retain a buying agent to secure a London purchase before next year’s SDLT deadlines, we’d be delighted to discuss your requirements. Contact us today for a free consultation at [email protected] or 0208 0880 522.