Sales volumes sharply reduced!

  • 8 Dec 2016

Sales volumes of prime homes right across the country have been hit hard, cutting the Government’s take from Stamp Duty Land Tax by millions. Asking prices have also been sharply reduced, as the top end of the London market has crashed.

In the six months from May to October there was a 75% reduction in sales of properties above £10m – down to just 15 from 61 in the same period last year.

There was also a 51% reduction in sales between £5m and £10m – a fall from 201 to 99.

There was also a 33% drop in sales between £1m and £2m (7,285 falling to 4,913) and a 36% drop in sales between £2m and £5m (down from 1,473 to 947).

Worst affected was the prime new-build sector where there was a 83% reduction in the number of sales of new homes above £5m. This equates to a fall from 52 in the same period last year to just nine in the six months from May to October.

According to analysis of Land Registry figures by investment firm London Central Portfolio, the reduction in sales activity above £1m between May and October could have cost the Exchequer nearly £500m.

The firm says that the fall could be as much as £1bn by the end of the financial year.

London Central Portfolio CEO Naomi Heaton said: “This slowdown in the luxury property market – a big contributor for the Exchequer and UK economy in general – is very concerning, particularly as the Government faces wider economic and financial instability in the face of Brexit.

“With an already increasing deficit to address and the Government’s declared intent to increase tax revenues, these statistics should make some worrying reading for Chancellor Hammond.

“Having missed the opportunity to reconsider Osborne’s strategy at the Autumn Statement, we hope the Government will now look to relax some of these measures before there are detrimental knock-on effects for developers, the Exchequer’s balance sheet and the wider UK economy.”

Most of Britain’s most expensive homes are concentrated in London, where high-end agents have made job cuts and developer Berkeley Homes has slashed its prices  by around 10%.

Separate research, by Propcision, has also shown huge cuts, of up to 46%, in asking prices of some London properties.

Michelle Ricci, co-founder of analyst firm Propcision which has an ‘add on to Rightmove’ which is neither approved nor authorised by the portal, said some of these properties had ambitious pricing to begin with. Her research shows that since June, the price cuts became more concentrated in central London as the Brexit vote compounded pre-existing problems in the market.

The blame on the central London housing market crash has been put on an increasingly harsh tax regime scaring off wealthy purchasers.

While there might not be much sympathy for this segment, there must nevertheless be concerns about a market that needs to flow freely from top to bottom.

Specifically, as agents know, what historically happens at the top end of the market tends to ripple down – and that what happens in London, tends to spread out.