Stories with good news about the prime central London market seem few and far between but the latest figures from B2B service LonRes suggests something to cheer about at last.
They show transactions up 14 per cent in prime central London and new instructions up by nine per cent.
However, these optimistic figures are tempered by less good indicators: for homes priced at £5m-plus transactions are down 29 per cent on a year ago, while prices for the prime central London market overall remain 5.8 per cent lower than a year ago and are well below both their 2014 peak and the 2016 pre-referendum levels.
“Despite political uncertainty and an absence of any discernible resolution to the Brexit saga, the prime central London market was busier this summer than last. The number of buyers choosing to purchase in PCL rose 14 per cent in Q3 2019 compared with Q3 2018” explains Marcus Dixon, head of research at LonRes.
“However, the top end remained subdued … Talk of a potential change to top end stamp duty could lie behind the fall as buyers likely to make the greatest savings on a stamp duty change, sit it out and play a game of wait and see.”
In detail, transaction volumes increased 14 per cent in Q3 2019, following a three per cent annual rise in Q2 2019: but the market under £2m saw a four per cent fall in achieved prices compared with the same period a year ago.
This was despite a rise in number of homes sold - up 26 per cent compared with the same three months last year.
So far this year the market under £2m has seen the most significant increase in sales activity, up a fifth on the first nine months of 2018.
In the £2m to £5m niche, LonRes says buyers started to return to the market in the third quarter when there were 12 per cent more sales in this price bracket compared with the same period a year ago.
Activity levels in the £5m-plus market saw a three per cent fall in Q3 2019 compared with the same period a year ago - the stamp duty wait-and-see effect, suggests Lonres.
Average discounts on the price at which a property was first listed fell again in Q3 2019, with an average of 11 per cent negotiated off initial asking prices. This meant average discounts were at their lowest level for two years.
Meanwhile new instructions in PCL in Q3 this year rose for the first time since Q2 2018, with a nine per cent increase over the same period last year.
The number of properties on the market at the end of Q3 2019 was down 14 per cent compared with the same point a year earlier.
For reference, Lonres regards prime central London as including properties in the SW1A, SW1W, SW1X, SW3, SW7, SW10, W1J, W1K and W8 postcodes.