There was a huge 33 per cent collapse in transactions in central London in the final quarter of 2018 compared with the same period a year earlier says London-focussed franchise agency Winkworth.
The firm says: “This is likely to be the result of heightened uncertainty whilst Brexit proceedings intensified towards the end of the year.”
In its latest market report on the central London area, based on nine of the firm’s offices, Winkworth says that while transactions numbers had remained largely unchanged for a prolonged period since late 2016, there was a marked drop late in 2018.
However, even the difficult period of October to December last year was better than the period immediately after the EU referendum back in June 2016, when in the following three months transactions were 20 per cent below Q4 2018.
“With ongoing political issues surrounding Brexit still showing no signs of resolve, this could signify another weak period in Q1 2019 but will hopefully lead to a more positive outlook later on in the year, as we gain a clearer picture of the reality of the UK’s planned exit from the EU” says the firm.
Winkworth’s snapshot does have some brighter news however.
It says prices in central London are now starting to make a recovery after bottoming out in 2017, with sellers who “have now come to terms with market conditions and are accepting to market at more realistic prices.”
Even so, sale prices in the final quarter of last year were some 18 per cent below peak levels of late 2014 - before the Osborne stamp duty tax changes.
Yesterday Foxtons revealed that its sales revenue in the full year of 2018 had dropped significantly from £43m to £36m.
It also warned that its profits for 2018 were likely to take a huge £16m hit - equivalent to around 80 per cent - to cover branch closures and in a one-off write down because of London’s prolonged housing downturn.