Sealed bid open house viewing dropped as homes market slows
Wed 28 May 2014
Estate agents are starting to abandon frenetic "open house" viewing of properties as the number of home coming on to the London market is returning to "normal" with more asking prices being reduced than for years and some homes languishing unsold for months rather than being snapped up by anxious buyers. Peter Rollings, chief executive of central and west London agency Marsh and Parsons, said his firm had not arranged a weekend "open house" session- at which buyers are given as little as 15 minutes to view a home before submitting a sealed bid- for about a month. Marsh and Parsons has seen a 26 percent rise in the number of properties coming on to the market since March while the number of registered buyers per property has dropped from 24 to 16 since the start of the year. The latest signs of a slowdown come after Nationa-wide boss Graham Beale forecast that the overhead London market will go through "a natural correction" over the summer. Figures today also showed that London is getting less of a boost from the Governments Help to Buy scheme than any English region apart from the North-East. Only six percent of all purchases backed by the scheme are in the capital. Agents said buyers are now walking away from properties they see as overpriced rather than panicking about missing out. Richard Barber, partner at agents WA Ellis, said: "Weve seen a drop in applicant levels in recent weeks- theres an affordability issue and a general deeling that prices have gone as high as theyre going to go. Theres also a real concern about property taxes if the Conservatives dont get elected in 2015- people believe therell be all sorts of clobbering on property." He said the average price per square foot achieved in sales over the past year is one per cent down, from 1,876 in the first quarter of 2013 to 1,858 in the first quarter of 2014. The impact has been particularly hard at the top end of the market with price in teh 10 million bracket down by around 10 percent in some areas, according to Trevor Abrahmsohn of north London agents Glentree. He said there are currently three unsold properties on the market on Church Row, one of Hampsteads most sought-after addresses. A large family home on Greenaway Gardens, also in Hampstead, has had its price reduced by 10 percent in recent weeks with only a "very muted" reaction from the market, he added. However, agents said there was no chance of a full blown crash in London despite the huge rise in values over the past five years. Dominic Agace, chief executive of the Winkworth chain, said: "If the steam is coming off a bit we think thats a healthy thing."