Why Brexit Is Only Partly to Blame for London's Housing Woes
Why Brexit Is Only Partly to Blame for London's Housing Woes.
Adapted from The Bloomberg News December 17 2018
Want to Buy a London Home? Brexit Isn't the Only Thing to Watch
Brokers have been quick to blame the uncertainty around Brexit for the downturn in London property values, but beneath the surface there’s a number of factors suggesting declines may be inevitable no matter what the outcome.
Home price growth in the city has turned negative, according to a Bloomberg analysis of Land Registry data, months after analysts expected them to begin falling. It’s also becoming increasingly apparent that the housingmarketmay be in worse shape than it looks. According to one metric, sales are at a record low.
Here are eight other things to look at, underscoring that the capital’s property market is heading for trouble:
Luxury Rebound Myth
Estate agents have been predicting the recovery of the prime central London market for years, pointing to an uptick in viewings as proof of demand. But the picture may be drastically different on the ground, as seen with London Central Residential Recovery Fund Ltd., a property fund that owns a portfolio of rental homes in the city’s most expensive districts.
Sales are at their lowest level since records began and many properties that do come on the market are being treated as distressed, the manager told investors last month. The fund, coming to the end of its eight-year duration, urged shareholders to vote againstwinding down the portfolio, saying it expects offers of about 17.5 percent below March valuation levels if it were to sell its properties now.
That could be a “conservative estimate” if buyers were to perceive the fund as a distressed vendor because it was being liquidated, the filing said. Investors heeded the warning and voted earlier this month against closing down the fund.
“In recent weeks, viewings are up,” Naomi Heaton, Chief Executive Officer at London Central Portfolio, which manages the fund, said in an interview. “There are many more buyers and we’re seeing competitive bidding at a level not seen in many years.”
The fund’s net asset value has risen about 72 percent since 2010, Heaton said.
Mayfair, home to hedge funds and luxury retail stores, provides one example of the discounts on offer to purchasers in prime central London. Buying agent Black Brick says it recently acquired a home in the district for 15 million pounds ($19 million) on behalf of a client after it was repossessed. The asking price had earlier been 25 million pounds.
Offplan Sales Slowdown
The days of homebuyers queuing to snap up homes before they’re even built appear over after increases in taxes damped overseas demand. Telford Homes Plc said it was “disappointed” with the U.K. and overseas launch of its Gallions Point project after securing just 15 sales for the 127-home project near London City Airport.
The wider London market is seeing a “marked slowdown in volumes and downward pressure on price,” according to Crest Nicholson Plc. The data support their view. London’s stock of completed but unsold homes has surged by almost half this year, according to researcher Molior London.
Demand for London homes, both rentals and owned, has been boosted by immigration from the European Union. If net immigration slows after the Brexit vote, then demand could fall, those leaving could contribute to an increase in supply by selling their homes and landlords could opt to offload properties amid weaker demand from tenants.
Home values rose more in hipster-favorite Hackney in east London than in any other local borough in the U.K. over the past 20 years, the Evening Standard reported earlier this year, citing a report by broker Cushman & Wakefield. Many of those who moved there work in the tech industry, whose huge growth has helped them get the deposit they need to purchase a home. This year is different -- the drop in tech share prices in the second half means they will have less to spend than they thought.
Big Buyers Turn Sellers
Some overseas investors who made a splash in the London market are selling out.
When billionaire Wang Jianlin decided to sell one of the largest luxury residential projects under development in London, his firm turned to a buyer it knew well: Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. The Chinese developer, together with C C Land Holdings Ltd., had earlier partnered to replace Wang’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd. as the buyers of the adjacent 10-acre Nine Elms Square land.
Next up? Lodha Developers Ltd. is looking to raise about 472 million pounds by selling its stakes in projects on Lincoln Square and at the former Canadian diplomatic premises at Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square.
Sellers who put their homes on the market are facing the lowest chances of securing a sale in 10 years.