Continued uncertainty over tax still affecting prime central London property

Taylor Scott International News

Annual price growth in prime central London fell to 0.9% in November, against the background of prolonged uncertainty surrounding the impact of property tax, according to the latest analysis report. Annual growth was at its lowest level since October 2009, with a monthly decline of 0.3% contributing to the slowdown, says the report from international real estate firm Knight Frank. In the six months to October, when asking prices fell by 10% to 20%, exchanges took an average of 24 weeks but viewing levels in October were the third highest since the start of 2014, it also shows. It points out that the Autumn Statement from Chancellor George Osborne which announce that buy to let investors and those purchasing second homes face paying an extra 3% in stamp duty tax from next April came as tentative signs began to emerge that buyers and sellers are adjusting to previous stamp duty changes introduced in December 2014. ‘After a year under the new system, which raised rates for properties worth more than £1.1 million, a growing number of vendors have begun to set asking prices that reflect the more subdued level of demand and heightened sensitivity to pricing among buyers,’ said Tom Bill, head of London residential research at Knight Frank. He explained that Knight Frank sales data for the six months to October shows properties sold at an incrementally slower pace as the achieved price fell below the asking price. In instances where the achieved price was 80% to 90% of the asking price, where the asking price came down by between 10% and 20%, exchanges took an average of 24 weeks. This compared to nine weeks where the asking price and the achieved price are the same, that is to say where no reduction was necessary. ‘It demonstrates the strength of underlying demand, which is reflected in the fact viewing levels have increased in recent months. Viewings in October were at the third highest level since the start of 2014,’ Bill added. November also saw the release of Knight Frank’s global tax report, which showed London was in the middle of the pack compared to other major global cities in relation to prime property tax and holding costs. ‘The latest stamp duty changes appear unlikely to alter this position materially,’ said Bill. Taylor Scott International

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