LONDON — The ongoing chaos caused by Southern Rail strikes, which massively affect London commuters, are slowing down house price growth in affected areas, according to research.
Analysis by property website eMoov found that house prices in some locations along strike-hit Southern Rail lines have grown 50% more slowly than the national average.
The network operates nine lines in and around the capital, but all have been disrupted in recent months due to an ongoing dispute between bosses and drivers over attempts to cut staff.
Southern Rail remains one of the least popular rail providers among commuters, largely due to its reputation for poor services, late trains, and frequent strike action.
In December, MPs warned that employers were even rejecting job applicants who live along the Southern Rail network over fears that they would not be able to arrive at work on time.
Using data from online estate agents Zoopla, eMoov collected the average price paid and value change surrounding each station across all nine of the Southern Rail lines.
The research looked at the price growth over the last 12 months, as well as the last six, comparing each line on Southern Rail and the network as a whole to price growth across England during the same time periods.
Take a look at this chart:
It shows that house prices across England have increased by 7.6% in the past twelve months. But for those living across the Southern Rail network, property price growth hit just 6.5% in the same period.
More notable is the difference in growth in the last six months alone, when the strikes took place. Across England, homeowners enjoyed an average increase of 3% in property values. Those living on the Southern Rail network saw the average property price growth fall by more than half, increasing by just 1.4% overall.
While it is important to understand the price movements in the context of a slowdown in the wider London property market — driven down further in the last six months by the Brexit vote — property experts agree that the price disparity is linked to the rail crisis.
Russell Quirk, a former councillor and chief executive of eMoov, said: “This research really highlights the impact external factors can have on a property’s value in the market. Often, the close proximity of good commuter links into London, in particular, can help increase the asking price of a property.
“In this instance, strike action, poor service, cancelled trains and long delays have had the reverse effect to property prices on the Southern Rail network.”
In December, Adrian Gill, director of online estate agents YouMove, said that the rail strikes would “inevitably” cause a “softening” of the market.
He told the Evening Standard: “In the short term, if you take days out of people’s calendars because of strikes then fewer sales will happen because there will be fewer viewings, fewer people chasing houses and fewer offers, which will either lead to a softening of prices or your house just won’t sell.
“In the long term you have to deal with people’s perceptions of living in that area. People who have a choice about where they live will think ‘I don’t want to live there because look at all the rail problems,'” he added.