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Fewer properties for sale in London

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Drought-warningEnthusiasm for investing in London property continues to grow but some estate agents are reporting that the supply of new properties for sale in London has dropped by 85% over the last four months. Over the longer term, one property portal has reported that the number of properties for sale is down 38% since the peak of the market in 2007.

For investor landlords looking to expand their portfolios, this is having quite an impact – gazumping is well and truly back and some clients have told us that they’re being asked to make sealed bids for properties particularly on smaller in new developments.

As I get ready to go to Hong Kong later this week for a series of investor seminars that I’m hosting, the subject of ‘where can I buy’ will no doubt become the topic du jour.
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Why has the supply of properties fallen?

So why is this happening? There are a number of factors at work here. I firmly believe that media hype about a London property boom has a lot to answer for. Many property owners are waiting for property prices to rise further before selling, limiting the number of properties coming to the market. Meanwhile buyers are keen to buy now, before property prices shoot up. The lack of supply means properties are selling for as much as 20% above asking price in some areas of London.

Help to Buy

Help to Buy There’s no doubt that the Government’s Help to Buy scheme is also having an impact, increasing demand for properties up to £600,000. Improved mortgage availability and lower mortgage costs are also contributing as more people decide that this is a good time to get on the property ladder.

Fewer properties coming to the market

Meanwhile those looking to downsize from larger properties are waiting – as prices rise they have more to gain by staying put for now.

Homeowners who have been unable to move to a larger property in the last few years due to restricted mortgage availability and the high cost of moving (including high stamp duty costs) and instead have invested in their current properties, perhaps by extending to meet the needs of a growing family, are also staying put. Having spent considerable sums on improving their homes, they are in no rush to move.

Investor landlords not planning to sell

With rental demand continuing to grow in London, landlords are continuing to achieve good rental yields and, with overseas landlords not yet subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT), there is no reason to exit the rental market at the moment and with London such a safe place to invest we don’t expect to see a flood of properties coming to the market in the foreseeable future.

So where does this leave investors looking to buy London property? Well, there are still investment opportunities out there – you just need to look more carefully than ever. A good starting point is a letting agent who operates in the area you are hoping to buy in – not an estate agent who sells property – use an agent who can advise on ‘actual’ rental demand in the area you are considering. This should certainly help when planning any long-term property investment in London. You may want to consider professional property management too, 98% of companies looking for property for their executives insist on it!


About the Author

For 40 years Anita has been the driving force behind Benham and Reeves’ success as it has grown from a single branch in Hampstead, to one of central London’s oldest, independently owned sales, letting and property management companies. Anita's vision has driven the expansion of the business to offer a complete range of property investment related services from under one roof, from purchase to handover, furnishings and/or refurbishment to lettings and property management. Read more about Anita Mehra here - Read full profile