The Autumn market, which begins every year in mid September, is traditionally our 'second busiest' time of the year after the Spring and, perhaps surprisingly, given the never ending torrent of bad news that appears to be coming from every media outlet at present, it has started with encouraging signs.
I have banged on about what a unique place London is for many years and so far I've been right. The market has always had its seasonal variances - and yes, August in Central London was unsurprisingly quiet (but not so quiet that we didn't agree well over 100 sales transactions and over 350 lettings transactions) which wasn't helped by the unusually early Ramadan this year. A large number of those who observe this religious period, and who traditionally visit London in August, delayed their trip because the long days during the British summer make it very uncomfortable having to wait until 9pm (at least) to eat. London was therefore bereft of a substantial number of buyers from both the Middle and Far East. We have however, already seen signs that this portion of buyers are returning to London this month, and beginning their property searches.
I may sound like a broken record but stock is still an issue and will continue to remain so for the foreseeable future. I maintain that it makes complete sense to buy property for a medium and long term investment, however the market is short of those wishing to divest of property and we are right back to the market fundamentals of death, debt and divorce, with debt coming a distant third in London. Until interest rates edge up, which is unlikely to happen for at least the next 12 months and probably longer, I don't envisage this situation changing. With little property on the market and a vast amount of buyers patiently waiting in the wings for something to become available, it’s no wonder that prices have remained high during the summer and whilst I don't expect them to climb dramatically during the last four months of the year, I also don't expect them to slip back. It’s not a complete disaster for those that cannot get onto the property ladder as there is a new wave of rental availability via, in particular, European investors who are buying London property to get out of Euros and into Sterling. Investors from all over the world are identifying London as a safe, secure and attractive investment opportunity - or even a place to live. With the recent weakening of Sterling, I think this demand will continue and in fact grow for the remainder of the year and into next. So long as the property is available to buy!
The rental market is in its busiest month of the lettings calendar and following a record breaking August at Marsh & Parsons, I am expecting a substantial amount of new tenancies to be agreed this month. A word of caution however; whilst the 'lower' end of the market (which we consider to be one/two bedroom flats up to £800 per week in central London) remains incredibly strong it will soon enter a quieter time and if you have a property to let, don’t delay, put it on NOW and benefit from the large number of tenants currently looking. The higher end of the market is just about to come into its own and this week we have already had some larger budgets coming through from our Corporate & Relocation Services Department.
All in all, a good start to the Autumn market and, in London, a generally positive sentiment.