London Buying Agent

June Market Update

June Market Update

As we enter June and lockdown measures are eased, the property market is slowly shifting into gear. We are booking in viewings again, where permitted and gradually being presented with more opportunities.

Nationwide has recorded  a nationwide 1.7% fall in house prices in May compared to the previous month. However this is based off extremely limited data and information on sales completed after lockdown will take some time to filter through. We stand by our March predictions for the market and the majority of our clients are taking the same view. At present, no clients we are working with are prepared to offer pre-covid levels. 

Selling agents are being understandably bullish but we have already been quoted 10% discounts on several interesting properties. At the same time,  other properties are coming back onto the market at prices higher than they failed to sell at in 2019. The market for the rest of 2020 will be increasingly complex and we see sale prices being agreed at the widest range for a long-time. Some (but not many) buyers will inevitably let emotions rule and pay Feb 2020 prices but long-term they will be in the minority. 

As we have previously written, buying with a 5-10 year time horizon should be the minimum. Historically London has strongly recovered from market corrections and quickly finds new highs.  The longer a buyer’s time horizon, the more they can insulate themselves against the risk of COVID whilst simultaneously taking advantage of historic long-term interest rates. More and more of our inquiries are from buyers who could pay cash but are looking to ‘lock-in’ 5-10 year fixed rates. As before coronavirus, international demand is still there. Pound sterling’s favourable exchange rates against the $ and other major currencies will support demand in Prime Central London and other neighbourhoods with excellent long-term prospects. Coronavirus will change many things but it won’t stop London being one of the best cities in the world to live or invest in. 

Now more than ever a buying agent can help clients navigate an increasingly complex marketplace. Identifying a combination of motivated, pragmatic vendors and best in class properties – whether that be off market or through traditional channels – is more demanding than ever. If you would like to discuss your property search with Alex today, please get in touch.  


Perrygate is a registered buying agent and not a financial advisor. Anyone considering purchasing UK property must undertake their own due diligence. The opinions expressed in this and other articles are the personal opinions of staff at Perrygate and do not constitute investment advice. The value of an investment may go up or down. Please see our Terms of Use  for more information

 

Prime Central London

Coronavirus and the London Property Market

CORONAVIRUS & LONDON's PROPERTY MARKET

Published 24th March 2020

Whilst the coronavirus pandemic is a human crisis first and foremost, it would be amiss to not give our initial thoughts on the short and longer term implications for London’s property market. 

Now more than ever, clients need an honest assessment of the market.  Perrygate will continue to outline both the potential up and downside of any purchase and help our clients achieve the best possible terms. 

What was happening to the market before the pandemic? 

Confidence and activity were returning throughout January and February.  The general election result gave many the confidence to proceed with their purchase and the majority thought ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations was ‘priced in’. Competitive bidding and sealed bids were making a return for ‘best in class’ properties.

It’s safe to say, that’s no longer the case! 

And Now? 

The property market has come to a virtual stand still. Estate agents aren’t conducting viewings whilst lenders and surveyors are not carrying out valuations in person. 

We have some client purchases in the hands of solicitors which made it beyond the surveying and financing stages before lockdown. We are progressing these sales towards exchange of contracts with our clients in control of the process. 

One side effect of the lockdown is Airbnb properties flooding the regular rental market. This is causing a short-term decline in rental asking prices but whether you can carry out a viewing is another question entirely. 

Has COVID-19 already affected house prices? 

Due to the lockdown, the impact of COVID-19 is minimal – there are nowhere near enough transactions to make a valid assessment of the market. This will remain the case until we start seeing significant transactional data coming through. 

Property is an illiquid asset and house prices are not subject to the day to day swings of the financial markets. Once the market reopens, there will be a period of ‘price discovery’ as buyers and vendors try to establish what is a fair price. Banks will also reevaluate what is an acceptable level of risk.  We expect this to suppress transaction volumes for the first few months after lockdown.  

What will happen to house prices?

In short, nobody knows the extent of the economic damage COVID-19 will cause and the subsequent effect on the market. Will society only return to normal following a long wait for a vaccine or will things improve gradually with the introduction of anti-viral drugs and immunity tests? How much money will central banks inject into the economy? Will the government introduce a SDLT holiday to protect house prices? 

With that said, here is our personal take on London’s property market in 2020. 

     Potential Downside: 

  • higher unemployment levels / firms reducing salaries – this could lower yields which put downward pressure on prices 
  • an uncertain lending environment – will banks impose stricter affordability checks and be more conservative in their valuations? 
  • economic losses from the ongoing lockdown
  • future losses to the economy as the world recovers from the virus – the IMF and other respected bodies are predicting the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression. Even in a best case scenario, the economic impact will be significant and talk of a V-shaped recovery seems optimistic. 
  • potentially higher income tax rates as the government looks to address higher debt levels
  • higher death rates, divorce rates and personal debt which will all increase the number of motivated sellers

     Potential Upside:

  • historically low interest rates unlikely to increase in the short-term 
  • mortgage holidays alleviate immediate pressure on landlords and homeowners
  • the majority of homeowners in prime central London are not heavily leveraged or own their property outright so we expect this to limit the number of distressed sellers
  • in an uncertain lending environment, cash buyers or those looking to buy at a maximum 60% LTV will likely find they have more negotiation leverage than in previous years. 
  • overseas buyers can benefit from favourable exchange rates against the £.  Pound sterling is currently trading at $1.25 USD
If we weigh up all the above and assume asking prices will be at February 2020 levels when the market reopens, we see more downside than upside throughout the rest of the year. Even if there is limited available stock, we believe buyers will have the upper-hand. It will likely take the majority of vendors and selling agents a while to come round to this view.  

What should I bear in mind if I’m looking to buy in London? 

After the lockdown, we believe buyers should be looking to secure a discount to reflect the additional risk.

Now more than ever, any purchase should be made with a time horizon of at least 5 years. With the current uncertainty, it makes even less sense to be paying SDLT twice – especially if you are an overseas buyer looking to avoid the SDLT increase in April 2021. 

Interest rates are now at historic lows and accessing capital is cheaper than ever. Many will see a softer market as an opportunity to secure their dream home on a long fixed-rate mortgage. 

We will work our hardest to secure any property for the best price and buyers should be taking a long-term view of how their investment will perform throughout the 2020s, not 2020! Historically, central London property has always been one of the safest investment classes with strong capital appreciation. 

Now more than ever, we believe our 6 month retainer period gives clients time to assess the market and act accordingly.

There will certainly be excellent buying opportunities in 2020 and 2021 where buyers will have significant negotiation leverage. As ever, finding the right property and motivated vendors will be key. 

If you would like to discuss a future or ongoing property purchase in London, please get in touch with us today for a free consultation. 

Perrygate is a registered buying agent and not a financial advisor. Anyone considering purchasing UK property must undertake their own due diligence. The opinions expressed in this and other articles are the personal opinions of staff at Perrygate and do not constitute investment advice. The value of an investment may go up or down. Please see our Terms of Use  for more information

London Budget 2020: London Property

2020 Budget Reaction

2020 BUDGET REACTION:
KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR LONDON'S PROPERTY MARKET

Wednesday’s 2020 Budget unsurprisingly focused on the coronavirus pandemic. This is a significant black swan event and warrants a more detailed article of its own which will follow shortly. For today we will simply summarise the key takeaways for the London market.

Interest Rate Cut

Before the budget, the Bank of England announced an emergency cut in the base interest rate from 0.75% to 0.25% – back to historically low levels. Whilst this measure has been introduced as a fiscal stimulus to address the economic fallout from COVID-19, it does of course make capital cheaper than ever for everyone, not just business. This ultra-low interest rate environment combined with the lack of highly leveraged home owners in prime central London does further reduce any immediate downward pressure on prices.

New Overseas Buyer Stamp Duty 

We have been advising overseas clients on this anticipated extra surcharge for some time. The key questions were always how much would the rate be and when would it be introduced. We now know the additional rate will be 2% (not the 3% many had anticipated). More importantly the charge will be introduced in April 2021 – an introduction this late was one of the most best potential outcomes we were advising clients on. 

We are not surprised the government is unwilling to compromise a stable source of income at a time when significant funding is required to address COVID-19. We are expecting the number of overseas buyers to increase this year as many look to buy before the deadline, although many will certainly be looking to avoid travel and buy remotely. 

Whilst many overseas buyers will be keen to secure a purchase before the April 2021, it is worth remembering that most major global cities already have a similar tax in place. For context, overseas buyers in Hong Kong have to be a rate of 33.3% of the purchase price and HK’s property market is significantly more expensive than London’s. Furthermore many overseas buyers will still be able to offset this additional tax against favourable exchange rates. Even accounting for the ‘second home’ SDLT rate which could be added to this rate for many international buyers, London will still rank behind many global cities for transaction costs. Saying that, we do feel the ‘super prime’ (£10m+) end of the market will most likely see a reduction in prices as it is dominated by overseas buyers who will simply look to pass these costs on to vendors. 

Cladding 

Away from these major announcements, it was good to see Chancellor Rishi Sunak announce a £1bn cladding removal fund and pledge the government will “make sure that all unsafe combustible cladding will be removed from every private and social residential building above 18 metres”.  

First-time Buyers out in the cold? 

First-time buyers may have expected more help from the government but there was no introduction of a mooted first-time buyers discount. In our opinion, the current ‘Help to Buy Scheme’ is fundamentally flawed and benefits major developers more than first-time buyers. Many new builds eligible for this scheme in London are 5-15% overvalued and buyers are putting themselves at a higher risk of ending up in negative equity. Service charges often represent poor value and the lease terms can be rushed and problematic. Our recent purchases for first-time buyers have largely been period property purchases with far better appreciation prospects and more secure forms of tenure. 

If you would to discuss your London property search with Perrygate, contact us today. 

Up and coming areas in London

January Market Recap: Market Liftoff?

January Market RECAP: MARKET LIFTOFF?

In our 2020 predictions for the London market last month we wrote:

“On balance, we would be very surprised if the Spring market is not significantly busier than 12 months earlier.” 

This is already proving to be the case and the market is springing back to life again with vendors and buyers returning in numbers. Since Lara and I founded Perrygate in late 2018, December and January have been our two busiest months. The election result has released significant pent up demand which has been gradually building over the last three years.  Domestic and international buyers we are working with feel London now represents real value compared to other global cities and that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations is ‘priced in’.   As a boutique family buying agency who only works with a select number of clients, we even took the decision to close our lettings service to meet growing demand from buying clients and make the business offering even more focused. 

Whilst we are bullish on market activity, we are still taking a wait and see approach regarding the direction of achieved sold prices. According to Rightmove’s London Index, asking prices in greater London increased by 2.1% in January – the largest ever recorded increase for this time of the year. There is a danger that the gap between buyer and vendor expectations may widen in some cases.  Based on our recent observations and negotiations in the market, sales are being agreed at sensible prices and there is room for negotiation. For those looking to move before the Spring, there has been a welcomed 19% increase in sales compared to a year ago. 

We are certainly not offering more for properties compared to in 2019 but our clients now have greater choice – albeit with increasing competition! 

If you would like to discuss your property search with Perrygate, email us at [email protected] or call 0208 0880 522.

Is now a good time to buy in London

2020 Property Predictions

London Property PREDICTIONS 2020

2019 was as a year of political and economic uncertainty causing low transactions and limited housing stock. Are we in for more of the same in 2020? 

Perrygate is not expecting dramatic changes this year but we are looking forward to a busier market than 2019 with more buyers and sellers taking action. 

Here are some of our key predictions for buying property in central London in 2020.

Less political uncertainty means a modest increase in housing stock. 

Throughout 2019, many of our clients feared a Corbyn government even more than a potential hard Brexit. Proposed hard-left policies including seizing 10% of publicly listed companies and forcing private landlords to sell to tenants understandably caused concern. The Conservative’s overwhelming December election victory has prevented this worst case scenario and provides the certainty that they are set to govern until at least 2025. For many international buyers already benefiting from favourable exchange rates, this election result was enough to complete on purchases or start searches this year with an eye to quickly exchange contracts. 

Of course the election result is just one factor to unlocking the slow market. Brexit is a far more complex process which will continue to cause uncertainty throughout 2020 – but hopefully to a lesser extent than last year.  Although the UK is set to leave the EU by the end of this month, we expect many domestic buyers and vendors to remain on the sidelines whilst the post-Brexit economy takes shape. 

On balance, we would be very surprised if the Spring market is not significantly busier than 12 months earlier. Stable low-interest rates combined combined with current wage growth will see more buyers come out of hiding. 

Best-in-class properties to continue to sell quickly. Organisation is key. 

The top 10% of any property type (whether that be a Kensington mews or a 1 bed flat in Notting Hill) are not staying on the market for long – if they are reasonably priced inline with recent sold prices (not asking prices!). Competing bids at this end of the market are still common and giving the estate agent/vendor the security of working with a serious buyer can make all the difference. On several occasions in 2019,  our retained clients secured a property partly because they were well-organised and financing/surveyor/solicitor were in place before an offer was made. 

In a quieter market, off market has a key role. 

Whilst we expect the market to pick-up this year we are still expecting lower than average transaction figures. This means off market listings will remain important for buyers – particularly for purchases above £2m in prime central London. Prime vendors do not want the time their property is taking to sell and every price reduction detailed on Rightmove. There will be more vendors leaving details behind estate agent desks looking to be matched with discreet, organised buyers.

Off plan and new builds present opportunities.

We have previously covered issues with London’s off plan market but feel there are now opportunities. Towards the end of 2019, we negotiated discounts on off plan property in central areas up to 15% – delivering a very competitive price per square foot. Many developers have quarterly financial targets and cashflow pressures so there are opportunities to secure a fair price. Due diligence in off plan is vitally important, especially where there are limited direct comparables and high service charges have to be factored into the overall value.  Many off plan listings are still wildly overpriced however. We were recently quoted £5m for a fairly uninspiring 3 bedroom flat in one development which we would have struggled to value at half that amount. Some developers are still trying to market such schemes to overseas buyers and take advantage of a lack of local knowledge. 

Looming tax changes for international buyers.

The upcoming Conservative budget may bring a further stamp duty tax for non-UK tax resident buyers. The policy was announced in November but there is only limited detail at this stage. If this policy comes into effect later this year it is unclear what impact it will have on London’s prime housing market where international buyers are very active. We are working with some buyers looking to achieve quick exchanges before this potential tax change plays out.

At a time where buyer ands seller expectations are often very different, a buying agent can play a key role representing their client and helping them achieve a fair price for the right property and crucially, getting a sale over the line. 

If you are planning to buy a property in London in 2020 and would like to discuss your search with us? Please get in touch. 

Perrygate is not a financial advisor and anyone considering purchasing UK property must undertake their own due diligence. The opinions expressed in this and other articles are the personal opinions of staff at Perrygate and are not investment advice. The value of an investment may go up or down. Please see our Terms of Use  for more information.