Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Housing Market Stalls as Buyers Wait for 30% Drop

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Housing Market Stalls as Buyers Wait for 30% Drop

Article excerpt


FURTHER evidence of London's stagnating property market emerged today after a new report found people are increasingly unwilling to move.

The prospect of prices falling by as much as 30 per cent this year has caused a slump in interest from housebuyers, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It found the cost of property is still rising in all parts of Britain except London, where there has been "a slight fall".

"If prices show signs of falling, potential purchasers are likely to hold back in anticipation of further falls," said RICS housing spokesman Ian Perry.

"If prices remain stable or rise, activity will pick up as more buyers move in."

The Chelsea office of estate agent Lane Fox said reticence to commit was evident in the number of viewings per property during the first two weeks of this year - down from 11 to just five.

In central London, agent John D Wood said: "Lack of consensus regarding the direction of house prices has led to a lack of decision-making by buyers and sellers."

Agent Jeremy Leaf, in north London, added the market "illustrates to us a gradual shift of bargaining power to buyers from sellers".

Last month, a report by the Nationwide Building Society named 13 London boroughs where it predicted prices would fall due to economic slowdown.

Economics expert Roger Bootle, one of the Bank of England's "wise men" under the Tories, has also caused jitters by saying British houses are overvalued by 22 per cent. His company, Capital Economics, has predicted falls of 30 per cent in some areas later this year.

A typical example of a homeowner finding it difficult to sell his property is 38-year-old Alastair Mellon.

Mr Mellon's five-bedroom house in Stockwell Park Crescent went on the market last March for pound sterling895,000. The four-floor property has three bathrooms over four floors and a 120 sq ft garden.

However, the house is now on the market for pound sterling795,000. After failing to sell his house for its original asking price, Mr Mellon has gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure it is sold.

He said: "As well as knocking pound sterling100,000 off the price, I wrote down 150 things to do to improve the house, from a screw missing to clearing out the garden and repainting the front. I must have spent pound sterling15,000 but I think it will be worth it."

He admits the house was not in perfect condition when it went up for sale.

"We just hoped for the best but the market died pretty much from that day."

In September he took it off the market for six weeks to do the work and is now convinced it is ready to sell.

Mr Mellon's house can be viewed through estate agents Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, Woodland Page and Winkworth. …

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