Property price slide starts to feed through to companies

RENEWED weakness in the housing market pushed more real estate services companies to the brink in July, according to the latest monthly City A.M./Begbies Traynor health monitor for the Square Mile.

As economists look to September as the “crunch time” for Britain’s struggling property sector, our survey shows 945 firms across London including estate agents, architects and developers suffered serious problems last month. The number represents an increase of 14 per cent on the previous period.

Within the City, 101 property-based outfits were operating on the edge, up four per cent from June’s number.

The figures will spark concerns that a second slowdown in residential and commercial property prices is beginning to hit corporates.

Home values fell for the first time in a year in July, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The Nationwide Building Society recorded an average price fall of 0.5 per cent, while Hometrack said prices dropped 0.1 per cent.

Across Greater London, the number of companies showing signs of significant stress fell slightly. But the number of financial services companies struggling to finance themselves more than doubled to 263.

Nick Hood, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “With the impact of public sector cuts still to be felt and consumer confidence falling away, the Bank of England’s prediction of a ‘choppy’ recovery is likely to mean tough times ahead for London.”