While the London sales market is, unsurprisingly, difficult to predict at the moment, we are cautiously optimistic and there are strong indications that the current market is noticeably healthier than at this time last year. Enquiries and transaction levels are picking up steadily and confidence is increasing slowly, with two types of buyer driving this more positive outlook – first time buyers and overseas investors.
First time buyers
First time buyers are always a major influence on property sales and the market for properties priced up to around £600k is busy. Of course, it is not as busy as it was four or five years ago, but the number of viewings we are carrying out is increasing steadily.
That is because, whatever the wider economic situation, most of us crave to own our own home and with interest rates still at a historic low, employment levels high and the Help to Buy scheme offering valuable support to first time buyers, many renters clearly believe that current Brexit uncertainty means prices won’t drop much lower and that this is a good time to buy. After all, the housing market has always had its challenges – Brexit just happens to be the latest. You can read more about what to expect this year here.
We are starting to receive more instructions and are now carrying out several valuations a day – we are certainly receiving a far higher number of instructions than at this time last year.
And further good news for sellers is that those who are viewing properties are generally organised, with their mortgage already in place so that they can move swiftly when they find the right property.
Overseas investors have never left the sales market although many have chosen to delay a little, adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach and buying only when they believe that a property is exactly right for them in terms of price and investment potential.
For international buyers, the most important factor is the weakness of sterling which continues to represent excellent value for money for them – this advantage far outweighs other economic factors.
In fact, our international offices to date, have said that not a single international buyer has asked about Brexit – it simply isn’t an issue for them. Buyers from Hong Kong, India and Malaysia are particularly active at the moment – we have just helped a Hong Kong client to buy two apartments at the Television Centre in White City which is hugely popular with renters. His criteria were the quality of the development, local facilities such as the Westfield London, Europe’s largest shopping mall, and potential rental yields. Of course, we also see a lot of overseas buyers purchasing for children who will be studying at university in London and the importance of the UK as a place to study remains as strong as ever.
Hornsey, North London – a hotspot to watch
We strive to offer clients opportunities that have great potential, often in areas which are being regenerated and therefore offer good value but may not yet be on many buyers’ radar.
One area that definitely ticks that box is Hornsey in North London (Zone 3) and the new Clarendon development from St William, part of the Haringey Heartlands Regeneration scheme. Close to Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Wood Green, it is set to become a distinct village and community in its own right, set on a 12 acre site and close to several tube stations (King’s Cross station is just 15 minutes away). It will have its own concierge, gym, café and creche, as well as a landscaped courtyard and parkland and its own business and retail spaces.
We believe this new development, which is due to complete at the end of 2020, has huge potential, both for investors and owner occupiers, due to its high specification, local amenities, the long-term value it offers and its easy commute into central London in under half an hour. In fact, we think it could eventually emulate the popularity of award winning St George scheme Beaufort Park Colindale situated in the NW9 postcode. One bed apartments at Clarendon start at £350,000.
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