January has brought a flurry of activity to the London market as investment purchasers step up their game to ensure they avoid the increases in stamp duty.
Sara Ransom, director of Stacks Property Search in London, says: “Buy to live purchasers can't be blamed for stepping out of the arena for this buy to let mini-bubble. Their reward is likely to be less punchy prices on the kind of property that lends itself to investment purchase. So April will be a good month for non-investment purchasers of new homes where there's a good chance that discounts of up to 3% will be on the table.
At the lower end of the resale sector, buyers may struggle to negotiate discounts. The £300,000 - £600,000 market has gone from strength to strength since the new Stamp Duty bands were introduced in the autumn of 2014. The first time buyer market in areas such as Clapham, Balham and Streatham is buoyant; buyers interested in ex-council apartments in Brixton will have to work hard just to look at one before it's snapped up.
Over £600,000 there's less competition, especially as overseas buyers represent a much smaller proportion of buyers than two years ago, but the market is moving steadily, and there's plenty of demand from those upsizing to a second home, with help from the bank of Mum and Dad. But here may be a little room for manoeuvre on price if you do your research, kick hard in the right places, and get your timing right. April will be a good month to be negotiating.
Sara continued: “Meanwhile, the prime central London market remains in intensive care; its recovery is expected to be slow and painful. The question is, how far will prices fall before people start speculating again?
“Last but not least there are some serious concerns brewing for homeowners in Balham. Crossrail 2 has proposed a new route between Clapham Junction and Wimbledon that puts a station at Balham instead of Tooting Broadway. And why isn't this a good thing? The bad news is that there's a rumour that Balham's much vaunted Waitrose will have to shut for up to six years during the construction work. Balham will surely benefit from this fantastic new infrastructure, and prices will inevitably rise as a result, but in the short term, there may be some long faces.”