London Housing Market Shows More Signs of Being in Doldrums

(Bloomberg) -- A Hometrack report provided further signs that London’s long housing boom is coming to an end.

Prices across the capital will start falling by mid-year, the research company predicted, just two weeks after Acadata said values are already dropping at the fastest pace since the depths of the recession. The figures show that Brexit and tax changes aimed at slowing the rampant real estate market in London and the southeast are finally forcing vendors to cut asking prices.

“This is a result of tax changes impacting overseas and domestic investors and stretched affordability for owner-occupiers that has been compounded by Brexit uncertainty,” said Richard Donnell, insight director at Hometrack. “Prices are next to follow.”

House prices are already growing at their slowest pace in seven years across London, and fell in 42 percent of postcodes in February, the most since the global financial crisis, Hometrack said. Nationally, slower economic growth and faster inflation have weighed on the market, while the Bank of England is raising interest rates, adding to the pressure.

London is among the U.K. cities hit hardest by the price slides after values almost doubled over the past decade. Away from southern England, price gains remain robust, the report found.

Declines are most pronounced in high-priced inner-London boroughs such as the City of London financial district, Hometrack said. It now takes about 18 weeks to sell a home in inner London, almost double the time in outer boroughs.

Hometrack is slower than some other firms in showing a turn in the capital’s housing market because its London index includes a number of commuter towns, where prices aren’t falling as quickly. The researcher said it includes these to give a more accurate picture of London real estate trends.

Hometrack’s report also found:

  • London home prices rose 1 percent year-on-year in February to 487,900 pounds ($693,200); that’s the smallest increase since August 2011 and down from 4.3 percent a year ago
  • London sales volumes are down 17 percent since 2014
  • City house-price inflation across the U.K. was 5.2 percent year-on-year
  • Prices are growing at more than 7 percent in Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester
  • Bristol, Southampton and London are showing some of the slowest price growth, while values are falling in Cambridge and Aberdeen

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