Sorry, homeowners: London is now officially a "buyer's market"

 
Emma Haslett
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House price growth in the capital is weak (Source: Getty)

London’s housing market is at a critical point, new figures have revealed, with heavy discounting by homeowners desperate to sell their properties tipping the capital into a buyer’s market.

The average home in London is now sold at four per cent below its original asking price, up from just 0.5 per cent in 2014, the closely-watched Hometrack Cities Index showed. In some parts of the capital, discounting has risen as high as 10 per cent.

The figures suggested a widening gap between house price growth in London, which reached just 1.8 per cent between December 2016 and December 2017, and the rest of the UK, where growth was 4.4 per cent.

And while growth in the UK’s 20 largest cities hit 5.4 per cent during the same period, three areas experienced slower house price growth than the capital. In Oxford, Cambridge and Aberdeen, prices fell 0.9 per cent, 1.4 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively.

By contrast, discounting by sellers in the UK’s largest regional cities is declining: in Birmingham and Manchester, the average price reduction has fallen from six per cent in 2013 to 2.7 per cent last year.

“These results confirm our view that the housing market is following the pattern registered in previous housing cycles with high rates of growth in London over the first half of the cycle being followed by low growth and an acceleration in regional housing markets as prices recover off a low base,” said Richard Donnell, insight director at Hometrack.

“We appear to be at this transition period once again.”

Read more: House prices set to fall in London this year, according to Fitch

Five more years

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, said subdued growth in the capital is likely to continue until 2022 thanks to tighter rules on mortgage lending and a hike to stamp duty on high-end homes.

“We’re forecasting that prices in London only increase by a net figure of seven per cent over the next five years, whereas in the UK we think it’s going to be twice that figure, at 14.2 per cent,” he told City A.M.

Read more: Here's how much London house prices fell in November

Political factors

Tom Bill, head of residential research at Knight Frank, added that political factors may also be taking their toll on the market.

“We’ve had two stamp duty increases but we’ve also had two general elections and an EU referendum,” he said.

“The political uncertainty does have an impact. Vendors are still, in some areas, realising where the market is and understanding the need to drop asking prices.”

Earlier this month figures from the Land Registry showed asking prices in the capital had taken a dive, falling 2.3 per cent in the year to November.

Read more: London house prices dragged down by Zones 2 and 3

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