We read with interest your article on how Crossrail is driving up housing prices in London (Property Week London Supplement, 26.06.15)
Rapidly increasing London house prices have, in part, been driven by the investor who never intends to complete on or live in the property. Double-digit growth has increased the number of speculators buying in the high-net-worth £1m to £5m ‘off-plan’ residential market, but is this market about to wane? This high-net-worth market has not bounced back since the election and with prices possibly continuing to remain flat for the next three to five years, the lack of growth means these investors are unlikely to recover their initial investment and costs.
This particular market may also experience further pressure on price in the next 12 to 24 months as a large number of new properties reach practical completion and hit the market. This extra supply may lead to an additional softening of prices, which are put under further pressure by investors who are unable to complete on their purchase agreement and look to mitigate their losses by assigning their agreements at discounted prices.
The only hope is that investors who have agreements that exchanged prior to 4 December 2014 may be able to achieve a greater price, as the agreement may attract the benefit of the ultimate buyer being able to choose whether to use the old or new stamp duty land tax rates, which may result in a substantial saving. In the short term, this may give rise to a niche sales opportunity, which will be short-lived.
For those looking for capital growth, is it now time to look elsewhere? Perhaps not. The London market has proven to be robust and a good medium- to long-term investment; as your article also identifies, it is also widely thought that the completion of Crossrail will increase prices again, as people look west for a home that is within an easy commute of the West End and City.
Justin Neal, partner, Gordon Dadds