Up to the minute market comment

Friday, October 30, 2009 by Ed Mead

Anne Ashworth in the Times today says that never has the state of house prices told us so little about the state of the housing market. We're lucky at D&G as we deal with well established buyers, not looking at the top end and with good jobs and sizeable deposits. This means they can access cheap mortgages, and if rates are going to stay low why wouldn't you buy now. Add that to Sterling's second collapse in a year giving our EU cousins another excuse to rampage here, and as if that's not enough that nutter Berlusconi offers a tax amnesty to rich Italians (where have we heard that before) who can repatriate their overseas millions for 5% rather than the usual 40% Tax. The result is billions of Euros pouring out of various Tax havens and into central London. Put all that together with approx half the usual levels of stock and it's no surprise there's not so much of a bubble as an explosion going on at the moment. As far as D&G is concerned it's a perfect storm, but it has to end. Our offices are reporting stock levels up 10% from last month and buyer levels down about 15%, so it does appear the balancing act is starting. Levels of actual business are steady but still about 50% down, in terms of volumes, from the 2007 peak, even if some prices being achieved are higher than they were even then.

The real shocker is to look at the overall volumes across the market that D&G works in and how they've decreased in the last 10 years. Given that we have over 13% of the total market in our areas by volume I feel we are well placed to speak. Overall volumes of properties being sold in London now are some 40% down on where they were in 1999 and c. 70% down on where they were in 2007. If you slice the pie by value the market in London is worth about the same, in empirical terms, as it was in 1999 but don't forget values have tripled over the same period so overall a huge reduction.