Prime London property market likely to be subdued until after election in May

Taylor Scott International News

The mood of buyers and vendors alike in the prime London residential market is likely to remain subdued up until after the general election in May, it is claimed. Uncertainty surrounding a potential mansion tax, interest rates and the introduction of capital gains tax liability for non-resident owners are also contributing to the general market angst, according to the 2015 market forecast report from Chestertons. Moreover, a tightening mortgage regulatory environment with the European Mortgage Credit Directive due for implementation by 2016 and the Basel III requirements by 2019 on top of recent new UK rules, may see lenders become more cautious, the firm believes. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that even high net worth individuals are experiencing more difficulty in having their mortgage applications processed despite the fact that exemptions from MMR requirements were given to those with a net annual income of at least £300,000 or a net worth of at least £3 million. The report points out that the UK economy, although forecast to slow this year, is nonetheless expected to remain one of the best performing among developed countries. Indeed, the HM Treasury panel of independent forecasters currently projects GDP growth of 2.6% compared to an estimated out turn of 3% in 2014, although it expects unemployment to reduce further. The panel also forecasts inflation will creep up, although much depends on the price of crude oil and household expenditure. For the time being, the possibility of deflation remains real. It also points out that pricing is likely to become more sensitive in the shorter term following the revision of Stamp Duty and the potential introduction of a mansion tax, and as buyers sense that they have the upper hand in a softening market. ‘Nonetheless, there are pockets of the market which should be active in 2015. Foreign investment driven purchases should remain robust especially in the new build sector which remains buoyant in terms of both buyer demand and price growth,’ the report says. ‘The UK should enhance its attraction as a safe haven for flight capital from a troubled Eurozone and countries with historic ties with Britain who are experiencing geo-political unrest, such as Egypt, Nigeria and other parts of west Africa. Moreover, various surveys indicate that UK buy to let landlords are keen to expand their portfolios while the attraction of property as a pension supplement for households in or approaching retirement continues to grow in popularity as evidenced by the increase in buy to let mortgage lending last year,’ it explains. ‘As we suggested in our previous report, the outcome of the election could have a considerable impact on the prime London residential market. We expect values to remain flat or see further slight reduction in the run-up to the election,’ it points out. ‘Thereafter, if a Conservative Government or a Conservative led coalition is returned the firm anticipates a gradual uplift in values over the remainder of the year. Otherwise, any combination of Labour/Liberal… Taylor Scott International

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