Countrywide says the current malaise in the central London housing market is not, as many agents and commentators suggest, simply down to stamp duty.
Almost exactly a year ago Chancellor George Osborne announced his restructuring of stamp duty making almost all properties costing over £937,000 incur a higher level of stamp duty than before.
Since that time, and in particular since the summer, the high-value central London market has shown a reduction in transactions and some price falls, especially amongst the most expensive properties. This was obviously long before the surprise announcement of a stamp duty surcharge on second homes announced just last week by Osborne.
However, Countrywide’s research director, Johnny Morris, says: “The top end of the market would be just as bad if he hadn’t even touched stamp duty.”
Morris believes international jitters over China and other emerging economies have deterred the kind of British buyer who is able to afford a high-end London property, while foreign investors have been hit by the strong pound which has made the capital’s homes look over-priced.
“Then there’s the natural cycle” he says. “Prices in prime central London in particular have had a strong run for many years - they were bound to fall back a little at some point.”