London is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, and property costs play a huge role in that. House prices are more than ten times earnings, and the average property in the capital now costs well above £500,000.
Prices have soared since collapsing during the financial crisis, and the speed at which prices have grown has been insane. Near double-digit percentage growth has been the norm in recent years.
But, according to the latest data from Britain’s biggest bank, HSBC, the air might be starting to come out of the market, especially when it comes to luxury property.
In the bank’s monthly UK Housing Chartbook, a huge note full of charts and data showing the exact state of the UK housing market in 2016, HSBC has two charts to show that London’s crazy property market may finally be starting to slowdown a little.
Here are the charts:
The first chart illustrates that in February, other than the North of England, London was the worst performing region of the UK when it came to price growth.
The second shows that price expectations for the coming months have slumped in the capital. Market expectations about London property prices in the next three months have now dropped into negative territory. It is the only UK region where this is the case.
HSBC’s charts, taken from data compiled by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, add to a growing number of signs that the London housing market, which until very recently looked unstoppable, is finally starting to run out of steam.
Last week, London-only estate agent Foxtons released its annual results, and reported that sales volumes across the company fell by 10%, and that pre-tax profits also fell, slumping 2.6%. The company said that the activity seen in London’s market was “subdued” in 2015, citing “challenging underlying market conditions.”
Why London’s property market is finally starting to slow can’t be put down to a single factor, but the biggest contributors are changes in the way that stamp duty on properties is calculated, and the fact that prices have simply risen too high, and need to come down.
At the end of 2014, Chancellor George Osborne made big changes to the UK’s stamp duty system — a tax placed on buyers when they purchase a property — meaning that anyone buying a house for less than £925,000 would save money, and anyone buying for more than that would pay more.
Given that London has the highest numbers of houses worth more than this level of any region in the UK, the stamp duty changes have hit properties in the capital the hardest, increasing moving costs, and helping to subdue activity.