London agony goes on as sales in prime central area hit record low

The Prime Central London pain throughout the pandemic can be seen by new figures just released by an investment consultancy, showing the lowest volume of annual sales on record.

London Central Portfolio has analysed data from HM Land Registry and has revealed that only 2,936 transactions took place in PCL throughout 2020. That’s fewer than 60 a week on average.

Within PCL – which comprises the City of Westminster and the borough of Kensington & Chelsea – there are 213,000 homes.

The 2020 transaction rate was 42 per cent below the 10-year average and 75 per cent below the peak year, back in 1999 when there were 11,660 transactions.

On the basis of the 2020 data, London Central Portfolio says the typical property in Prime Central London would now change hands only once every 73 years – whereas in Greater London, it’s every 29 years.

Andrew Weir, chief executive of London Central Portfolio, comments: “PCL did not benefit from the price growth experienced by the broader UK housing market during the pandemic. The low transaction volumes demonstrate that real estate in this market is ‘tightly held’ and properties are not listed for sale during times of price suppression, which effectively creates a bottom line for property prices.

“Sellers have been reluctant to place their property on the open market due to a lack of international investors resulting in volumes falling beyond the previous low levels witnessed in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis and the years following the EU referendum.

“The latest data also suggests that the stamp duty holiday has had a limited impact on the PCL market and has been more of a ‘nice-to-have’ than a driving factor.”

He says the sector’s fortunes should improve with the easing of lockdown restrictions and a successful vaccine roll out.

“We expect to see the return of some Londoners who look to re-establish their city life. The current lack of overseas buyers presents a short window of opportunity for the domestic market” comments Weir.

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