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Prime London market shows sign of returning at last

The latest Coutts Prime Property Index has revealed that activity in this sector of the market - based mostly in London - continued to rise in Q1, despite lockdown. 

The wealth manager and private bank points towards a number of contributing factors, including the impact of the original stamp duty holiday deadline.

Even so, the market has also seen prices fall by 4.7 per cent compared to Q1 2020. 


However, this is an improvement on some earlier data and, coupled with the fact that properties are selling 18 days quicker than this time last year, presents a more optimistic market.

Coutts also says that it suggests that in the last quarter, sellers appear to be prioritising a quick sale rather than holding out for a bigger price. And although the number of overseas buyers has been low due to travel restrictions, the arrival of a two per cent stamp duty surcharge on overseas buyers at the end of March acted as an incentive for them to transact.

The average discount figure - that is, the amount under asking price that sellers were likely to accept - was higher than a year earlier at 8.6 per cent.

The bank suggests the 2021 outlook prime property is strong with demand set to increase because of the return of overseas buyers, as travel restrictions ease. 


Overseas interest in commercial property is already evident, with Colliers already reporting that £3 billion was invested in UK commercial property in March, with overseas investors accounting for half of the assets. Coutts believes the trends in residential will follow those seen in commercial throughout 2021.  

Q2 is set to be a booster quarter, the bank says. 

The stamp duty extension and positive news on the easing of lockdown restrictions in March resulted in a surge in new instructions late in Q1. As a result, the number of prime properties under offer across London, a barometer for transaction levels in the coming months, hit 694 at the end of the first quarter. 

This is the highest number recorded since the Coutts index began and 3.1 per cent higher than the previous record quarter in Q1 2020.


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