London: New prospective buyers rise to 15-year high in second week of January

The number of new prospective buyers registering with Knight Frank in London rose to its highest weekly total in more than 15 years in the second week of January as they look to capitalize on the certainty brought by December’s general election result.

Knight Frank does not reveal exact numbers but the figure was 92% higher than the same week last year and 95% up on the same period in 2018.

Furthermore, the number of viewings across London rose to its third highest total in 15 years on Saturday 11 January.

The registration of new buyers typically spikes in January but this year has seen a unprecedented uptick.

“We have our busiest ever Saturday for viewings this week,” said Christopher Burton, head of Knight Frank’s Dulwich office. “The second half of last year was active as buyers ventured back into the market but interest has exploded at the start of this year.”

There are early indications that the relative political certainty provided by last month’s general election result is starting to boost activity in prime London markets.

Excluding the month before a pre-announced stamp duty increase in April 2016, the number of exchanges for existing homes in prime central London in December 2019 was the highest monthly total since April 2014.

Indeed, in the ten working days following the election, Knight Frank transacted more exchanges in PCL than any equivalent period since December 2016.

Overall, the number of exchanges in prime London markets was 14% higher last year than in 2018 and the highest annual total since 2014.

The reasons for this uptick include the relatively benign global economic backdrop, ultra-low mortgage rates, the currency discount and the fact prime residential markets have re-priced in response to political uncertainty and tax changes.

The extent of the pent-up demand that has built over 2019 could also inject more urgency into the market. In the final quarter of last year, there were 10 new buyers for every new property listed in prime central and outer London, the highest ratio in more than 15 years.