London house price rises unlikely over the next few years

Rise in London house prices is unlikely over next few years as Brexit uncertainty weights on the housing market, says poll

The days of London house price rises hugely outpacing inflation in the UK is unlikely in the short or medium terms as Brexit uncertainty weighs on the housing market, according to a new poll.

Property values in the capital, long a haven for foreign investors, more than tripled in the last 20 years, but demand and turnover have crumbled since the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union and property taxes were raised, the poll says.

It suggests that the economists and analysts responding to the poll believe that prices will fall in London around 1.7% this year and another 0.3% in 2019. But it also warns that borrowing is likely to get more expensive with interest rates rising to 1.25% by early 2020.

Asked if there would be a return to strong turnover and above inflation house price growth in London and the South East if a Brexit deal was struck, 14 of 17 respondents said no. Two said it would happen regardless and one said it depended on the deal.

But Brexit is not the only factor holding back prices, a sharp increase in the property tax, stamp duty, paid when buying a house, has particularly affected London where houses are much more expensive than the rest of the country.

A senior manager at mortgage broker John Charcol, Ray Boulger said the high rates of SDLT will continue to stifle transaction volumes, especially in expensive price areas like London and the South East.

After next year’s modest dip London prices are predicted to rise 1.5% in 2020, the poll found.

When asked about the probability of a significant correction in London’s housing market by the end of 2019, the median forecast was only 20%, significantly down from the 29% given in August.

However, Chief executive of online estate agent eMoov, Russell Quirk said London demand is starting to poke its head above the stamp duty laden parapet again. History tells that London can’t be subdued over the long term and therefore it’s clear that the current downturn in the capital’s volumes and values is temporary.

Nationally, house prices are forecast to rise 2% this year, 1.8% next year and 2% in 2020, the poll found but it adds that such moderate gains are below expectations for wage increases and will likely cheer first time buyers who are struggling to get on the property ladder.

When asked to rate the level of London house prices on a scale of one to 10, where one is extremely cheap and 10 extremely expensive, the median response was eight. Nationally they were rated seven, where it has been for a couple of years.

While borrowing costs are currently low, the Bank of England is forecast to raise rates again after Brexit. But the new level of Bank Rate will still be historically low at 1% and it is not expected to rise to 1.25% until early 2020.

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