London house prices fall. Yes, really

London house prices fall. Yes, really

The Greater London Authority has compiled new quarterly figures about London’s housing market and they again show a fall in the seasonally-adjusted average house price. It’s worth stressing “again” because falls are not entirely new of late, but so relentless have been the rises in recent times that any fall still feels remarkable.

The decrease is one of 3.8 per cent – not exactly massive – compared with one year ago, making the average price across the whole of Greater London £462,000, according to the Office for National Statistics. Interestingly, the GLA says London’s price growth (its opposite, in fact) was the second lowest in any English region over the period in question. The others are catching up.

Private rents, by contrast, rose in the year to March, albeit only by 0.5 per cent. Again, the rest of England is seeing larger increases – an overall 1.5 per cent – though London rents increases have been below the English average since 2016. A “real terms” measure of London rents, taking into account CPI inflation, has seen them continue a fall that began in 2017.

Anything on the up? Yes! Completions of new homes. These are tracked by means of the issue of new home energy performance certificates, which serve as a proxy for completions. There were 41,680 of these in the year to the first quarter of 2019, up from 34,240 in the same period the year before. That’s a 22 per cent increase, though the number of planning approvals granted in the whole of 2018 was almost exactly the same as in 2017, which might not bode well for further completion hikes. Meanwhile, the average first time buyer in London has still been borrowing four times as much as they earn in a year.

Finally, something we can perhaps all be pleased about: the number of rented homes, social or private, repossessed by court bailiffs in 2018 fell by 18 per cent compared with 2017. There were 9,723 such repossessions. Read the full market report here.

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