What next for London’s prime property market?


Luxurious layout: the living room at Devonshire Place Mews, Marylebone, which sold through Robert Irving Burns.

We’re only one month into 2024 and while it is too early to say if we are past ‘peak pain’ I would (cautiously) say the outlook for the UK’s property market is starting to look brighter.

The year got off to a positive start with major lenders making significant cuts to residential mortgage rates. Growing competition among mortgage providers on the back of expectations of earlier-than-expected base rate cuts, has stimulated activity in the market.

This is supported by a recent Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors report that shows most estate agents in the UK expect growth in sales volumes over the next 12 months. We at Robert Irving Burns (RIB) have also had a busy start to the year, having seen a jump in seller activity after Christmas, continuing into the new year.

This positive sentiment is filtering down to buyers who had previously adopted a wait-and-see approach in the hope prices would drop, but are now motivated to lock in favourable fixed-rate mortgage deals. For their part, vendors who were reluctant to sell for lower than asking price are now more amenable to moderate cuts in the hopes of securing a quick sale.

At the prime end of market, the fact that high net worth individuals tend to be less exposed to high interest rates, and similarly, often do not need to lower prices of the properties they are selling (or indeed even sell at all), means prices have held up well. Indeed, a high proportion of RIB’s recent residential sales have been agreed at full asking price, including most recently a newly redeveloped four-bedroom mews house in Marylebone.

Despite economic headwinds, there remains an overall shortage of high-quality housing stock in pockets of the most desirable parts of the capital, something that has also sustained demand for ‘best in class’ properties. None of this is to say that buyers of prime property are not price sensitive. Indeed optimising return on investment by looking in emerging prime property hotspots where they will get more space for their money has become more commonplace in the past year.

General Election will bring political clarity to the housing market.

Political Clarity

Leaving the economy to one side, the other major issue that is front of mind this year in the property market is the General Election. In the weeks leading up to elections, buyers and sellers typically become more cautious in anticipation of a change of government and the expectation of policy changes. This is likely to be a key reason why we’re seeing a flurry of activity now.

With most signs pointing towards a Labour victory, our clients are hoping the party, if elected, will make good on its pledge to not introduce a mansion tax, increase capital gains tax or raise the top rate of income tax.

Work with a trusted broker with unparalleled local knowledge

If you’re making a move on the property ladder in 2024 and want to put your home on the market, be sure to instruct an agency and broker with excellent knowledge of the local area. A good broker will give you an honest appraisal of your home’s true market value, rather than simply tell you what you want to hear and inflate the value in order to win the instruction.

Taking the latter approach almost always leads to properties languishing on the market months down the line, having attracted little or no interest. It’s a broker’s job to navigate the interests of both vendors and buyers and get deals across the line. Even though the economy appears to be on surer footing than it was last year, enlisting the expertise of a trusted broker is one of the best ways of ensuring you secure a quick sale at the right price.

While no one has a crystal ball as to what the market will bring, I think people have been waiting to make their move for long enough. With the right staging and the right price, properties are selling – indeed, we recently sold one at asking price after being on the market for just two weeks. It’s clear to me that there is the appetite to buy, and the appetite to sell, we just need to make sure the property is as appetising as possible!

Lee Koffman is director and head of residential sales at Robert Irving Burns.

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