Residential Market Comment Q1 2022

The beginning of 2022 started with great hope and optimism in all our lives and the wider economy as a whole, if not tinted with a little hesitation. The end is now in sight, and we are all hoping to return to normal as quickly as possible. Huge numbers of workers have started returning to offices across the capital and the trickle has swollen to a torrent of life pouring back into central London.

More people can only mean on thing, demand, demand, demand. The lettings market has been the first to take off like a rocket. Best in class properties were the first to go as eager tenants snapped up the last of the Covid priced flats before the market adjusted and began to catch up at pace. Since January 2022 residential lettings prices have been increasing across the city at the fastest rate since records began. At the time of writing the stock available on the market is being offered at between 10 to 15 percent higher than pre-Covid levels. The combination of lack of fresh supply and properties clogged up with artificially elongated tenancies left over from Covid lockdowns have had a major constricting effect on available property.

There is mounting pressure on the chancellor to act swiftly and decisively to alleviate the constriction on supply of homes. Specifically, the 3% stamp duty surcharge on buy to let properties. According to analysis by Capital Economics, scrapping the stamp duty surcharge would boost housing market activity by encouraging investors to invest in properties and that would in turn help meet the growing demand for rental homes and drive up transaction levels. The economic consultancy believes that removing the 3% levy would see almost 900,000 new private rented homes made available across the UK over the next ten years.

Overall house price growth in the capital remains strong with average house prices hitting record highs. Towards the 4th quarter of 2021 London found itself lagging behind the country as a whole in percentage growth rate as the effects of the Covid exodus were being felt. While London remains the weakest performing area of the UK, its annual house price inflation has accelerated for a third straight month now standing at 4.5% – the capital’s strongest performance in over a year – as people returning to the city, a strong labour market and affordable mortgage rates combine to heat the residential housing market in prime central London.

With the Bank of England’s interest rate hike to 0.5%, there’s been speculation that this may affect the market or any further growth. However, the level of demand we are continuing to see this year, currently 34% higher than this time last year and 71% higher than in 2019, only intensified by the city returners and favourable market conditions, suggests the rise will unlikely dampen the motivations of those looking to move.

With the world now embroiled in wider conflict that only 3 months ago was not even on our radar we see investors rushing back to the safe and stable currencies of the pound and the US dollar. Property and gold have always done very well as asset classes in times of turmoil and stress in the economy. The outlook for London’s housing market for both owners and landlords is extremely strong for the near future.

Residential Market Comment Q3 2021

Residential Market Comment Q3 2021

What a turnaround we have seen in the lettings market over the last three months. The rush or stampede back into London, combined with the seasonal August and September market has seen huge amounts of applicants registering with agents. Off the back of this, Landstones has let record numbers of properties across all property types.

The COVID market price dip has seen a reversal as tenants scour the market for quality properties. At Landstones, we’ve seen a near 25% rise in rental prices with flats coming onto the market and being snapped up by eager tenants almost immediately. One and two bedroom flats are now dramatically over subscribed as many workers return to previous employment in London. Landstones have been obliged to carry out block viewings in order to cope with the sheer volume of traffic attempting to view many of our properties.

The lettings market in September has experienced an extraordinary lack of stock on top of the usual seasonal high tenant demand. Many tenants already under contract have looked around in the market for alternative properties without success, which has encouraged many tenants to extend their contracts in order to take advantage of lower COVID pricing for another year. Stock not coming back to the open market, coupled with the lack of new purchases of rental investments, has culminated in the drying up of prime central London supply. High demand paired with severe lack of supply can only mean one thing.

Advice to tenants has to be to make positive steps and grab quality properties whilst they’re available. The excess demand and lower supply are already putting remarkable upward pressure on prices, meaning we will soon pass the pre-COVID highs.

Despite the flurry of market activity London is still suffering from the lack of international travel. Quarantine, airport security queues, testing and the traffic light travel system have had a dramatic effect on the number of international buyers able to visit London. This lack of overseas buyers has discouraged many London vendors from bringing their properties to the market. The common misconception amongst buyers seems to be that due to the COVID market conditions, they would be able to snap up a bargain – this has however not proved to be the case. During periods of market contraction, many London buyers simply hold onto their assets to sit out the storm and wait for the better times to come, this is also made much easier by record low interest rates meaning holding costs for even vacant property is minimal. This holding in turn drives a lack of stock that is always present in the prime central London market, and can often force a slowing market back into a period of growth.

The lending landscape for mortgage buyers remains very attractive with the Bank of England once again holding interest rates at a rock bottom 0.1%. At these levels, the lending market continues to be very competitive, with many lenders rushing to offer new products with tertiary factors outside the headline rate figures. Relaxation of criteria around LTV should see access to lending becoming easier for first time buyers and those with smaller deposits.

Residential Market Comment Q2 2021

Residential Market Comment Q2 2021

The last three months have seen a continuation of the turbulent market that prime Central London has been experiencing for over twelve months. However, the tide seems very much to be turning, with lockdown restrictions continuing to ease and Freedom Day looming large on the horizon, couple this with a very successful vaccine roll out program, demand for quality properties is now very high and increasing. Many agents will be making year on year comparisons with the same quarter last year, this is largely folly as the market was prohibited from functioning properly at that time, but it does give some indication of the stark difference from twelve months ago. We are now seeing the effects of all time low mortgage interest rates, a Stamp duty holiday and the months of prior pent-up demand putting serious upward pressure on London house prices.

The rush to the open space of the countryside now seems a less and less likely long-term option for many households as the myth that working from home can be a solution for large corporations now seems to have been dispelled. A significant number of the large city banks have come out in the media to say they are instructing all their staff that normal working practices will resume with office based working hours to become the norm once again.

Tenants are returning to London in large numbers as the prospect of imminent return to the office and easing of lockdown restrictions has triggered a sharp rise in demand for rented accommodation in and around Central London. Over the last several weeks Landstones lettings department have been inundated with tenant registrations as more and more young professionals head back into the capital to take up new jobs or return to the office of their pre Covid position. Pubs, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues have all begun to open their doors and are now crying out for staff to help cope with the surge in demand. The school terms are also back to full functionality bringing many families back to town, this has seen a short sharp increase in demand for larger family homes especially in the catchment areas for good schools.

Going forward into Q3 both Landstones sales and lettings departments are extremely optimistic for the future of the markets. Even with the stamp duty holiday drawing to a close on the 30th of June leaving little time to push a sale over the line before this incentive turn to a slightly less finically lucrative taper relief system, we are predicting strong demand across the board for good property. The numbers of sales generated across prime Central London in May was very close to the 2014 level showing buyers have great confidence in the market for the foreseeable future.

March Market Comment

March Market Comment

Along with the Spring weather, March has brought a sense of renewed confidence to the London property Market. With the days getting longer and the improved climate there is now a lot to be optimistic about. As we head into the spring market for both sales and lettings, we now have a world leading vaccination programme well underway and also an economic focused roadmap set out and backed by the chancellor and the government. All of which will help the businesses starting to reopen and hopefully draw in overseas visitors to the capital.

It’s been a busy few weeks for London property,

Markets have started to pick up across the board following the stamp duty holiday extension announcement, many buyers are really motivated to take advantage. It’s very much a case of fewer buyers on viewings but the ones who are out and about appear very motivated and very serious. Buyers are willing to make offers with confidence and this is driving house prices higher in London.

The mortgage market is also being driven by increased demand and confidence, the availability of mortgages to buyers with 10% deposits has seen over 300 products added by banks and building societies indicating these institutions share buyers confidence and optimism.

More property is now coming onto the market for both sales and lettings with the traditional spring rush no different to any other year. Following the property has come a fresh wave of tenants and buyers and we have seen the numbers of registered applicants increase by around 25% over the last month and over 70% year on year. Rightmove, Zoopla and On the Market are all reporting record weeks for enquiries across their markets.

Tenant numbers are starting to rise, international student have started to return with many of the universities preparing for a physical intake for the second and third quarter of 2021. Again, best in class apartments are leading the field when it comes to shortest time on the market, with a shortage of good family homes and 3, 4 and 5 beds houses and apartments being snapped up almost on first viewing.

Now is the time to get your property ready and get it onto the market to beat the crowd, the key to the spring market is being first, if you can beat the rush you have the best chance to secure yourself a very good tenant or the best buyer before the market starts to get saturated with the maddening crowds.

Things are looking bright, watch this space…

February Market Comment

February Market Comment

February has been another long month of restrictions and lockdown although we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. It certainly feels like that in the London property market!

Boris Johnson has, last week, laid out the governments road map for easing restrictions and ending the national lockdown. The prevailing sentiment in both the sales and letting market is definitely one of eager optimism with transaction volumes increasing on a weekly basis across the board. Buyers, vendors, tenants and landlords have been ready to get going for some time now.

With the UK leading the European charge for vaccinations many overseas investors are now starting to eye London as once again a safe haven for assets. With money starting to flow freely into the capital we can only see house prices in London go in one direction. Set against this backdrop we have also seen the Chancellor; Rishi Sunak indicate that the Stamp duty holiday will be extended for a further three months to the end of June. This sends a clear message that, he and the government, are committed to seeing the property market come out of the pandemic in the best possible health.

Bank bosses from several of the major city banks including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Barclays have all made strong statements that they will expect all staff back in the offices as soon as this is possible. This largely dispels the myth that London is somehow going to empty out over the coming years. The return of the city will inevitably have even further upward pressure on rents and values.

The students are starting to return to London. Despite fears over Brexit many of London’s top universities have seen a huge surge in applications from across the globe. First year students are beginning to arrive in the capital from many parts of Asia, the Middle East and India. With this influx we will see the depressed prices of typical student accommodation regain any lost ground over the Covid period.

Following a trend that has now been the norm for several years, best in class properties have been selling and letting strongly against even the headwind of the global pandemic. The message from Landstones has to be to keep your property in the best possible condition and go the extra mile for a tenant or buyer.

If you are looking for an agent who works as hard for you as you would for yourself, please do give us a call.

January Market Comment

January Market Comment

January 2021 started in very much the same vein as the end of 2020, Covid restrictions are still very much in the forefront of people’s minds and the limitations on personal movement have created an artificial backlog of pent-up demand in both the sales and the lettings markets.

Buyers are still very keen to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday and with murmurings that the scheme will not be extended past March, buyers are leaving things late to find a property in time to complete by the deadline. Eager buyers and time limitations will always see good quality stock sell well and the market is experiencing cases of sealed bids on many top properties.

Lettings is seeing fewer tenant numbers on viewings with applicants slightly more reluctant in the second lockdown to venture out. Video viewings and tenants taking properties via virtual viewing has become prevalent again but there is still no substitute to walking around a property with a well informed and knowledgeable estate agent.

London is starting to see the beginning of a slow trickle of overseas students returning for education, this influx will begin to hoover up the availability of one and two bedroom apartments and also houses designed for the sharer market. Now is a good time to secure a bargain property if you are looking in this sector of the rental market.

With the number of available listings coming down across the board and applicant numbers growing in both sales and letting are we beginning to see the start of the post pandemic recovery of the housing market. Strong demand and continued success in the fight against the global pandemic could see record transaction numbers in 2021.

A Year In Review 2020 Summary

A Year In Review 2020 Summary

Landstones final market update before the end of 2020 is a chance to reflect on a year of extreme upheaval and turmoil in the market place. Many people have faced unprecedented personal and professional struggles throughout the year. 2020 will be remembered as the year of Lockdowns, restrictions and social distance.

2020 has without a shadow of a doubt been the year we have focused on our homes more than ever before. We have seen huge focus on our own personal space with prolonged periods of time passed in our homes. Many people have converted their spare rooms into small offices and many other have moved into new apartments with outside space and areas for educating their children.

Landstones has seen huge surges in applicants during the periods between movement restrictions with much of that excess demand still unsatisfied. Many tenants are looking for properties they know will be suitable should any further restrictions come into effect.

Moving forward into 2021 we are predicting a sharp rise in rental prices as landlords seek to regain any ground lost in 2020. If you have any questions or would like an up-to-date valuation on your property, please do not hesitate to call us.

All the team at Landstones would like to wish you, your family and all of your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

December Market Comment

December Market Comment

Landstones are still dealing with a high number of applicant registrations, many of them trying to get their move organised and executed before the Christmas period. We have seen a much milder second lockdown with schools and many businesses still open allowing people to continue their daily lives with slightly less restriction than the first lockdown. The government have allowed estate agents to continue trading through the lockdown and customers have been very proactive in taking advantage of this to secure a new property.

The lettings market for large family houses has heated up significantly with very high demand levels outstripping very limited supply. Landstones have seen several incidences of competitive bidding for good, well priced family properties. This competitive bidding has driven prices higher for the remaining stock available on the market.

As the end of the years fast approaches many prospective tenants have their home search firmly in focus and are in a rush to find and secure their new flat or house before Christmas. Pricing continues to be key for many landlords in the one and two bedroom flat market, tenants are still seeing large choice and are very happy to make multiple offers on many different apartments to see how motivated the owners are and if any are willing to take an offer.

Home offices and outside space continue to be the must have items, one or both of these are requested in nearly all new tenant registrations. Quality remains the watch word in the London letting market.

November Market Comment

November Market Comment

The lettings market has continued to show strong demand through the month of October. With the normal cycle of the markets severely disrupted this year it is hard to say what is driving continued demand but we believe it is a combination of several factors.

With further restrictions on movement due to Covid 19 weighing heavily on peoples minds, this seems to have spurned many people into action, we have seen higher than usual numbers of applicant registering with us in October; typically a month when number start to dip, many of them very keen to secure larger properties with the amenities they require to see them through any future lockdowns.

Young professionals are getting on with the life and their careers, tenancies in London for the under 30s working professionals remain very strong. We have seen applicants from many of the big tech firms such as Facebook and Google come to us through our corporate relocation department. While Covid 19 is still very much with us, young professionals are keen to mitigate its negative influence on their careers, keeping a bullish mood amongst this age group.

With many of London’s top universities conducting this year’s programs virtually the market for overseas students has seen a significant dip, however it is not all doom and gloom for student landlords as we have seen many first and second year domestic students fill this space, many young people are eager to get out of their parents homes and into the London social scene, socially distanced or not.

The short-term lettings market continues to face a strong headwind with reduced applicant enquires and the lack of overseas tourists who make up a large part of the summer market for short lets in London. The increased availability of stock also continues to put downward pressure on prices in the sector. Landlords can take some comfort as many domestic applicants who are in a period of flux and uncertainty are opting for a short let until they have a clearer picture of what 2021 will look like for their home and work lives.

October Market Comment

October Market Comment

Thinking about the market over the last month several things have come quite starkly into the forefront. The first one is the importance of getting the price correct for the property you are hoping to rent. Tenants are very selective and with the background of Covid everyone expects to get a deal and people are negotiating aggressively. This makes selecting an agent who is willing to fight your corner and defend your price even more important. Getting the price right in the first place is the most important issue here, many tenants will not even consider a property they feel is unrealistic as there is plenty of property to choose from.

One of our key observations is how varied Covid’s impact has been on different locations, property types and price brackets within London. There have been some clear winners and losers and the divergence of these is a stark reminder of London being a tapestry of different areas and demographics, which are driven by different factors. Family homes are doing very well in this market with many families looking for more space to allow a little more breathing room to endure another lockdown if this comes. Many families are looking to purchase near good schools and want to try before they buy with a little uncertainly in the economy coming out of Covid and maybe into Brexit.

Some of the area that have been doing very well over the previous months are Notting Hill, St Johns Wood and Hampstead, all noted for their famous outside spaces and green areas. Competition in these areas has been fierce for the cream of the crop properties, this just goes to show that keeping your rental stock in top condition is extremely important when trying to get top rent or getting the property rented quickly in a tricky market.

Flexible working and working from home continue to be a hot talking point for many people, outside space and home offices are still the hot must have requirement. Rooftops, balconies and anywhere to grow a tomato plant have seen huge click through rates on Rightmove and Zoopla.