As will be seen from the comments from those estate agents specialising in Barbican apartment sales below, the market has very definitely turned around and, depending on how you look at it, either prices are beginning to fall back – or the froth has just gone from the top of the sales market. Whichever one considers as accurate the net effect is that asking prices appear to have dropped back just a little and the flood of prospective buyers has also diminished.
But, the Barbican is also a pretty resilient market – the attributes of living on the Estate are appealing. It is safe relative to most other high density living options; it has a relatively benign head leaseholder in the City of London; the gardens provide a great safe place for young children to play as witness the number of families who nowadays make their homes here; the location is one of the best in London, particularly for those who work in the City; it has terrific east-west and north-south transport links – which will be even further improved once Crossrail opens in four years time.
There probably is not the turnover in apartments that there has been in the past given the tremendous costs of moving nowadays with even the studios falling into relatively high stamp duty sales bands, so there tends to remain a relative shortage of stock for sale which inevitably means that demand continues to exceed supply and prices remain strong. But tighter mortgage lending, which also affects those who are looking to sell property elsewhere in order to move into the Barbican, seems to be slowing things down a bit in terms of time taking to sell a property here.
Glen Cook at Hamilton Brooks thus notes that the time taken to sell a property in the Barbican has moved out to 4-5 weeks on average – but this is a timescale that those selling houses elsewhere in the country would mostly give their eye teeth to achieve, so don’t be too despondent if you are considering selling. Prices remain very high – even though for the most part there is something of a hiatus in percentage price increases.
However analysis from Rightmove showed that although prices across the country have fallen by around 1.7% in the past month after a rise of around 8.5% year on year, London is one of the few areas where overall prices have continued to rise, although by only around 0.8%, with an average asking price across the capital of £601,180, and this may still be flattening out.
Rightmove’s housing market analyst Miles Shipside noted that underlying demand remains strong but has been muted by higher prices stretching affordability with the ability to borrow more to fund those higher prices having been curtailed by tighter mortgage lending criteria.
The number of properties coming on to the market overall appears to have fallen back, although the Barbican estate agents are seeing better stock levels than of late, although this may also be a function of their taking longer to complete sales.
Estate Agents’ comments
BARBICAN SALES MARKET
Tina Evans of Frank Harris: The 2014 sales market has been very busy with high tower flats achieving in excess of £1.8million and large one beds selling in excess of £900k. The market has now softened, buyers have more choice as the City is now awash with new developments, lenders are taking longer to agree mortgages and lending criteria has tightened so your property needs to be with an experienced agent in the area and presented in tip top condition.
For those residents who weren’t able to attend the screening of the Barbicania film (a 90 minute film exploring the residential estate and the Centre) please let me know and I will endeavour to send you the DVD.
We look forward to selling the new Barbican Tower flats at 2 Fann Street next year and hope to see many of you at the launch, for more details please contact us directly.
We would like to wish all our Barbican Residents a peaceful and Happy Christmas and 2015. www.frankharris.co.uk
Glen Cook of Hamilton Brooks: The period from April to June before we entered the summer holiday phase in mid July was frantic, hardly any stock and many apartments going to best bids .The six weeks during the summer holidays are always a bit of an unknown, will the market return in the same shape in September/will there be more stock available/will buyers have the same momentum?
The beginning of September saw an increase in stock levels that has not been matched by buying activity, this has led the ‘frothiness’ to go from the market and prices drift to a more realistic level.
The good news is that although seeing much of the new stock selling but at slightly reduced prices, those sales are now taking longer with more viewings taking place to achieve those sales, typically 4/5 weeks. BUT the important thing is they are still selling. One big issue is pricing, unless you know the Barbican Market inside/out and back to front/ the pricing can go horribly wrong. The only way to factor in all the little nuances of the Barbican Market is to deal with it day in day out, at the coal face/ground floor so to speak, that way you can gauge demand/preferences/intent/seriousness of each buyer. www.hamiltonbrooks.co.uk
Nick Scott at Scott City: The sales market is more normal after a crazy first quarter of 2014. The market is adjusting itself having got ahead of itself earlier in the year, this is now reflected in the asking price of Barbican flats and the price we are achieving.
The Barbican still is one of the most popular developments in central London and with a little more stock available we are seeing new clients being attracted to it. Property is remaining on the market for a little longer which allows clients more time
to consider their options. Scott City has just been given instructions to market a two/three bedroom house in BRANDON MEWS at £995,000. www.scottcity.co.uk
Leon Stone at Hamptons International: The London property market has gone through a transition since the giddy heights of April/May when the sales market was at its peak, with more choice for buyers, properties taking longer to sell and in most cases prices having come down. In many ways the Barbican has been quite resilient in that respect with high demand and a limit of available stock keeping prices firm, but prices have stopped rising and there is more available stock for sale than in recent years with overpriced property still struggling. Realistic and accurate pricing remains key but at the correct levels demand is still very much there. www.hamptons.co.uk
Matt Gibberd of The Modern House: We have exactly double the amount of sales stock that we had this time last year. On the one hand, this demonstrates how supply has caught up with demand. On the other, it shows how a specialist company like ours can thrive in a difficult market. When there’s more competition, the conventional channels tend not to work so well, and inevitably it’s much harder for sellers to stand out. www.themodernhouse.net
BARBICAN FLAT LETTINGS MARKET
Glen Cook of Hamilton Brooks says: we now have a nice healthy demand for all Barbican apartments, most of the Heron have been let tenants are now refocusing on the Barbican, presentation is the key, neutral furnishing, contemporary flooring, white walls, clever bright lighting for dark entrances, lower warm lighting in reception rooms, clean grouting, fresh mastic, all the basics, but they often get forgotten.
Joe Davison at Scott City: Enquiry Levels have remained high and have continued to be busy in the Barbican area, with rental prices remaining similar to 6 months ago. We currently have a range of stock on the market which ranges from studios, one bedrooms and two bedrooms.
However we are always looking for new properties in the Barbican, which are always advertised on our new website: www.scottcity.co.uk