The Next 12 months
25th March 2019
It’s no secret that the London property market has been subdued recently, but the fact that, in spite of everything, it has refrained from crashing does highlight the fact that the market is underpinned by solid foundations. That said, the London property market in 2019 is likely to be characterised by overall caution and stability rather than growth. The team at property investment firm Hopwood House look ahead to what the next 12 months might have in store for the London property market with three specific predictions.Sales volumes will slow as buyers wait to see what Brexit will bringEven though Brexit itself need not turn out to be a complete catastrophe, the uncertainty around the form it will eventually take can, understandably, make buyers very nervous. In principle, this issue should be resolved, one way or the other, by the end of March. If that is the case, then growth may start to return to the market towards the latter end of 2019, once buyers have had a chance to adjust to the new reality. In practice, however, there is also a feasible possibility that the negotiating period will be extended beyond the given deadline, which could lead to a longer period of uncertainty and hence subdued activity in the London property market. On the plus side, this could ultimately be of long-term benefit to everyone if it results in a better deal for the UK.House-price growth will remain subduedBrexit is the most obvious reason why it is unlikely that there will be major house-price growth in London for the immediate future, however there are others. For example, the London authorities have made it a priority to address the chronic shortage of housing, particularly affordable housing, through a programme of home-building, which has had the (presumably intended) effect of helping to put a brake on house-price growth. It’s also worth noting that the last 10 years have seen certain parts of London benefit greatly from the regeneration brought about by the 2012 London Olympics and other, separate, infrastructure improvements, such as Crossrail, with the result that there was unusually high house-price growth in these areas. At the current time, no such major developments appear to be in the pipeline, hence it is only to be expected that house-price growth will proceed at a slower pace, although, as always, it is to be anticipated that some parts of London will perform better than others, for example, the Notting Hill market continues to be very robust.The rental market will be highly competitive for tenantsOn the one hand, you have people who need a place to live in London, but who do not wish to buy right now. On the other hand, you have a vastly reduced number of rental listings as compared to 2018. This obviously creates a challenging situation for tenants even before factoring in the likelihood that the opening of new tech hubs will draw even more people to the capital. It will be interesting to see if this imbalance in the rental sector will lead to the government looking to encourage buy-to-let investors to focus on the capital and, if so, what form this encouragement will take.