The almost daily fluctuation in demand for, say, perfect Chelsea pieds-à-terre is not, as a rule, a useful lens through which to view broader trends. Earlier this year though, the prime central market provided a ‘speed dating’ example of what appears to be going on across London as a whole. In quick succession, a sudden fall in sterling prompted an influx of overseas ‘bottom feeders’ hoping for a bargain. Sellers of prime properties then bumped their prices up, a few from both sides haggled and got what they wanted, and the rest decided to wait for a better day. Much the same is going on across the rest of the market, albeit at a relatively glacial pace. Amidst a mass of high hopes for prices to swing up and down, deals are being done by those prepared to compromise. Prices continue to be affected more by local micro-markets and individual scarcity value than macro-economics (hence the wealth of contradictory anecdotal evidence out there at the moment) and volumes continue at much the same pace as the whole of last year. Land Registry figures show that this is still at least 90% of the medium-term average, in all of the London boroughs we serve. This is not exactly newsworthy, but confirmation that an active market persists. Much like the political situation, it looks probable that things are going to carry on being messy, whilst not really going anywhere, for a long time. If so then, if you want to buy or sell in the next four or five years, there is a strong argument for getting on with it rather than putting your life on hold any longer.
The direction of travel in the London lettings market is, in contrast, strong and clear. In both central and outer areas, demand is high and, in the mainstream market for one and two bed apartments and family houses, supply is tight, not least because of the number of landlords who have left the market. Rents are firm and, in outer areas at least, under some pressure to rise. Demand for high end rentals has continued to grow dramatically (driven by stamp duty payable on the purchase of a multi-million pound property). In central London, a potential shortage of supply has been offset, in some areas, by the entry of large luxury new build developments into the private rented sector, as developers opt to rent, rather than sell. This is, however, a highly localised matter. Overall, landlords are now much more in the driving seat, than for quite some time.
Ban on tenant fees
We are optimistic about the effects of the ban on charging fees to tenants. We think it will promote trust and good practice in the sector as a whole and eliminate the potential conflicts of interest which inevitably arose amongst those agencies which came to rely upon such fees. We have always sought to recover costs, never losing sight of our duty to landlords to look after their tenants as well as possible. Happy tenants respect the property, pay without fuss, report small problems before they grow, and renew. All of this is in the interests of our landlord clients. It is also a key reason – along with achieving more lettings than our rivals – that Jackson-Stops has just been appointed to the panel of one of London’s most prestigious private estates, with a portfolio of over 800 residential properties.