London homes take twice as long to sell as market slips

Homes in London are taking almost twice as long to sell as they were four years ago, as buyers hold back in a falling housing market.

Vendors took an average of 47 days to find a buyer in the capital in 2018, up from 24 days in 2014, according to figures compiled by the estate agents Hamptons International.

“Future expectations of price growth are starting to wane, and lots of people who are in the market to buy are pushing for quite a hard bargain at the moment,” said Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons.

She added that the market is also slowed by a gap in price expectations between buyers and sellers: “Homes that come on to the market priced well can still sell very, very quickly.”

Londoners selling their homes still made a typical £237,000 gain on the price they bought it for — an increase just above the cost of the average UK home.

Vendors in the wealthiest areas of the capital made far greater gains, even though those areas have led  the property downturn. In the central London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, for example, homeowners who sold in 2018 made a typical £992,000.

Since homeowners in the capital hold properties for an average of 9.3 years, they have still made significant profits since buying homes in the aftermath of the financial crisis, despite the recent slowdown in the market.

However, the average gain in the capital was down from £257,000 two years ago, when vendors maximised their profits by selling at the peak of the market.

London house prices dropped 1.69 per cent in the year to October, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The housing market is also slowing in southern England, where homes took a median 42 days to sell, up from 31 days four years ago.

Homebuyers in south-east England made a typical £123,000 gain on their home sales and those in the South-West £81,000, but both of those figures were down from a year earlier.

By contrast, gains were increasing and sale times shortening in regions, such as the Midlands and in Wales, that did not experience London’s runaway housing boom but where markets are still rising. 

Homes in the Midlands took 29 days to sell this year on average, down from 39 days four years ago. But gains made by home sellers in the East Midlands were up 3.2 per cent to £57,000, and in the West Midlands they rose 4.1 per cent to £58,000.

“The Midlands is the quickest place to sell a property in Great Britain at the moment, and that is the area that is experiencing the biggest boom in price growth,” Ms Beveridge said.


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