The prime market in London is incredibly specialised and is well reported and measured by Savills and Knight Frank.
Here is a summary of their reports.
Prime central London has been reliant on demand from domestic buyers and resident non-doms throughout much of last year , given the practical implications of Covid-19, in particular constraints on travel. In this context, the market has held up well. Values fell by a marginal -0.4% over the year, having stabilised in the final quarter, but remain almost 21% below their 2014 peak.
Across all of prime London, the value of homes with medium or large gardens increased by more than 4.0% in 2020, highlighting the shift in demand prompted by the pandemic. Similarly, all regions of prime London have seen houses outperform flats during the past year. Those with five or more bedrooms have been the top performers.
These trends favoured traditional family house markets such as Chiswick, Fulham, Putney and Richmond. Meanwhile, in prime central London, the strongest markets were those of Notting Hill, Holland Park and Bayswater. These areas combine local amenities, access to green space, walkability and good family housing stock.
The annual price change in prime central London (PCL) and prime outer London (POL) reached its widest point in 2020 during December, with average prices in PCL down 4.3% during 2020, while the annual decline in POL was 3.2%.
Overall, the relatively muted price performance since the market re-opened in May 2020 underscores how the release of pent-up demand has been balanced by fragile economic sentiment.
However, momentum is building in higher-value markets across London, which has been particularly notable between £5 million and £10 million. The increase reflects growing demand for houses, which tend to be more numerous in this price bracket and more in-demand among domestic buyers.
According to Savills, the Covid-19 pandemic altered the course of the UK’s prime residential markets during 2020 and London was no exception. There has been more demand across all locations for larger properties with private gardens and space to work from home. Coupled with the relative value on offer, this has meant the leafier outer prime London markets have performed more strongly than the capital’s higher value central markets which have been held back by international travel restrictions.
Lifestyle trends drive performance
Although the number of agreed sales of properties worth £1 million or more increased by 15% in 2020 across London as a whole, there was significant variation in performance by borough as a result of the trend to upsize and the search for properties with a garden.
Wandsworth had the highest number of deals at this level, with almost 1,500 throughout the year, an increase of 25% on 2019. Similarly, Richmond upon Thames saw £1 million+ deals rise by over 20% to more than 900 in 2020. The boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Camden continued to see a high number of agreed sales above this price point, but levels either rose marginally or fell last year when compared with the amount seen in 2019.
Outer London boroughs such as Bromley, Barnet and Haringey saw the highest percentage rise in £1 million+ deals, but their numbers still remain relatively small.
In the first three weeks of January, prospective buyers registering in London remained 17% ahead of the five-year average, demonstrating appetite to buy remains.
Yet there has been a subtle shift in sentiment, with the prospect of more sellers holding off due to Covid related uncertainty during the first weeks of 2021. This pent up supply saw appraisals for sale in London trailing the five-year average by more than a third in January.
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