Much like the old children’s song, “London Bridge,” real estate prices are falling cast in the English metropolis, leading real estate agents to wonder if a bubble is about to burst.
Wolf Street reported that the city’s market is valued at as much as the annual GDP of Brazil, the world’s ninth largest economy. But like the fabled bridge, prices are falling down. According to Rightmove, prices fell 1.5 percent in April compared to the same period last year. London’s pricier neighborhoods are being hit hardest. According to agent Henry Pryor, most of the slowdown had taken place in the “hollowed out” expensive inner London markets, while prices and transaction levels had held up in the outer zones.
“It’s the Krispy Kreme effect. There’s nothing of any interest or excitement in the center. Only around zones 2 and 3 do you start to get any enthusiasm.”
As it is, agents are finding that the wealthiest clients seem to have less money to spend or are spending it elsewhere. According to data, they may even be spending their money in other parts of the United Kingdom in search of better deals. Moreover, some of the U.K.’s leading markets have outpaced London’s top neighborhoods amid higher taxes and uncertainty in the wake of Brexit. The end result is values in the prime central London market that are 13 percent off of their 2014 peak. According to Mark Pattanshetti, a mortgage manager at broker Largemortgageloans.com, while the high-end market slowed after the Brexit vote, he expects it will recover.
“There isn’t enough supply in London, demand is still there and the top end is not so sensitive to interest rate changes.”
In fact, Londoners have been on the outside of the housing market looking in for at least a decade. They are competing with foreign buyers who have bought up as much as three-fourths of all new housing in the city.
According to James Gulliford, a co-leader of Savills’ UK investment team, UK investment makes sense for many overseas buyers because of its legal system and standardized market.
“On top of this, the sterling devaluation has made pricing attractive for investors whose currency is pegged to the US dollar. There has also been a temporary absence of UK institutional buyers which has created a marginally less competitive marketplace.”