London's Prime Residential Markets Defying the Recession

London's Prime Residential Markets Defying the Recession

Residential News » Europe Residential News Edition | By Michael Gerrity | May 24, 2012 11:36 AM ET

According to Chesterton Humberts' latest London Prime Residential Sales Market Report, prime London residential property market has again demonstrated its resilience in the first quarter of 2012 despite the economy having slipped back into recession, the increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax, and the weakness of two of its traditional drivers: the stock market and the city jobs market.

City bonus money no longer accounts for a large percentage of high value prime London property purchases and this is expected to continue. This is set against data from Morgan McKinley, showing that the number of new financial services vacancies was 56.5% lower in March2012 than in March 2011 and the FTSE 100 was2.4% lower in the same period.

Overseas purchasers accounted for just under 54% of all London sales transacted by Chesterton Humberts, however the figure was much higher in Mayfair -over 70% and over 80% in Docklands, Hyde Park and Kensington and Chelsea. Recent instability within the Eurozone may have persuaded many southern Europeans to invest in the London property market and election results in France, Greece and Russia may trigger further interest over the coming months.

Robert Bartlett, Chesterton Humberts' CEO tells World Property Channel, "The prime London residential market continues to outperform the UK property market and we do not foresee any reduction in buyer demand. Set against low stock levels, we are anticipating prices in the prime areas of London to continue to increase."

"It is still too early to assess the full impact of the tax measures implemented in the budget.  We anticipate that the increase in the top rate of SDLT to 7% will be absorbed relatively quickly, although properties around the £2m level have become more sensitive to negotiation.  The proposed introduction in April 2013 of an annual levy on ownership and Capital Gains Tax on disposal for properties held within corporate wrappers is more contentious and requires further clarification with regard to the detail of the scope of application.  The imminent consultation process, however, provides the property industry with an opportunity to urge the Government to consider the potential demerits of these measures, particularly with regard to the negative signals they send out to overseas investors."

"Meanwhile a worsening of the Eurozone crisis, although clearly not in the best interests of UK plc, may well trigger increased demand from international buyers on the basis that London represents a safe haven for investors.  Moreover, in the event of a collapse of partial or complete collapse of the Euro, Sterling would represent a relatively strong and stable currency for flight capital."

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