Marsh and Parsons calls the top top of the London property market
Wed 28 May 2014
"Weve reached the top of the market" trumpets Marsh & Parsons today, as prime London prices plateau and supply/demand levels stabilise. The supply of property in London has risen by 26% since March, says the agency, while the number of registered buyers per property has dropped from 24 in January to 16 now on the cusp of June. Q2's price growth in PCL was a touch over half that of Q1, dropping from a quite dramatic +4% to a more reasonable +2.1% over the last three months. Whatsmore, theres been "very little change in property prices, as growth stalls" over the last few weeks. Marsh & Parsons is the latest in a rather influential line-up of pundits and companies that are talking around this being the top of this prime market cycle. D&Gs Ed Mead, writing in PrimeResi today, argues that "buyers have reached the limit of their elasticity" while Knight Frank and Markits latest House Price Sentiment Index reports a distinct cooling in price growth expectations. Last week, private bank Coutts put it around that "house prices are fully valued", and both Development Securities and Grosvenor are moving away from prime property over concerns about values (financial, not ethical). Both Savills and Knight Frank have also reported localised plateaus in PCL price rises. Peter Rollings, CEO of Marsh & Parsons : "In the past six weeks, we have seen the wind change in the property landscape, restoring a new calm and steadiness to the market. Property prices have plateaued as more property has come onto the market; however demand continues to outweigh supply, in what is still a sellers market. This renaissance of supply is offering buyers more choice than theyve enjoyed in recent months and is also good news for sellers searching for their onward purchase. That said, sellers should be prepared to adapt to these cooling conditions. "2014 saw one of the busiest starts to the year, and up against such limited housing stock and fierce competition for available properties, buyers were left with very little breathing space. House price rises may have grabbed the headlines this year but double-digit annual increases are not sustainable, and as the market self-regulates itself, sellers and estate agents need to adjust their price expectations accordingly. "We believe this slowdown in price growth is a healthy and organic development and would urge the government and Bank of England to allow the market to take its natural course. Ramping up interest rates or making mortgages more expensive would be a gross over-reaction, which could harm the wider market outside of the capital, where the story is very different and recovery is only beginning to take shape." There are, of course, still plenty the majority of reports that focus more on continued price rises, transaction level peaks and bubble-mania. Rightmove, for example, just reported the biggest ever May rise for asking prices (with a "frothy" London); Hamptons reported chunky 18% annual growth in Fulham, and Beauchamp is fully expecting someplace in Knightsbridge to breach 10,000 psf very soon.