EU future uncertainty hitting prime central London sales and lettings
Sales and lettings in the prime central London property market have been hit by uncertainty over the UK’s position in the European Union ahead of the referendum vote on 23 June.
After a period of increased activity, as buyers rushed to beat the April stamp duty deadline, the prime central London area is experiencing a subdued time, according to a new report from estate agency WA Ellis.
‘April saw the government collect a record of nearly £1.2 billion in stamp duty, as landlords rushed to beat higher stamp duty rates on second properties. These national figures are reflected by transaction levels within prime central London which have halved since March,’ said Richard Barber, director at WA Ellis.
He believes that various apocalyptic visions of what may or may not happen if the UK voted to leave the EU have continued to confound the electorate over the last two months. ‘As a result, it would appear that buying a new property has been put on hold by the majority of potential purchasers until the future of the UK is determined,’ he added.
Landlords in prime central London are being hit hard by the uncertainty, according to Lucy Morton, head of agency at WA Ellis and JLL, with rents being adversely affected.
‘There are reports of recruitment freezes across the city and firms delaying relocating staff to London to see what awaits the UK post referendum. This, of course, has had an impact on prices, and the unprecedented surplus of stock has put further downward pressure on the rental market,’ she explained.
‘With this in mind, we have been advising landlords to reduce rents, and this has yielded positive results with enquiry levels up, and a substantial increase in lettings being agreed. In this sort of market, minimising vacant periods is more important than waiting for a slightly premium rental offer,’ she pointed out.
‘For example, over the course of a year, a 5% higher rental offer is negated if it means that a property stays vacant for an extra two and half weeks. As always our message is clear: accurate pricing and pristine presentation should be a landlord’s main consideration in volatile market conditions,’ she added.