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London house prices: how the 'prime property playgrounds of elite homebuyers' have been affected by Brexit

 (Shutterstock / ZGPhotography)
(Shutterstock / ZGPhotography)

Back in May 2016, the then-Chancellor George Osborne warned that UK house prices could fall by 18 per cent in two years if Britain voted to leave the EU.

But while that particular dire prediction may have been tempered by unforeseen events, including multiple changes of government and a global pandemic, separate estate agent Savills found that in real terms (when adjusted for inflation) house prices today are no higher than they were in late 2015.

The house price slowdown has been most severe in central London neighbourhoods, where some of the capital's most desirable — and most expensive — boroughs have seen house prices fall since the Brexit vote.

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Research by estate agent Yopa showed that house prices rose by 10.3 per cent in the heart of the capital between June 2016 and September 2023, almost half the 18.5 per cent growth in the rest of the city.

But in Westminster, the City of London or Kensington and Chelsea, the average house price is now lower than it was before the Brexit vote.

In Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth and Camden, property values have gone up by about five per cent or less in that time, well below the levels seen elsewhere in the capital.

Meanwhile the top five boroughs for house price growth since the Brexit vote are all in London's outer ring.

Homeowners in Redbridge have seen more than £115,000 — or 30 per cent — added to a typical sale, while neighbouring areas Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Waltham Forest have also enjoyed value growth of a quarter or more.

Bexley is just behind in the table, completing an East London top five for post-Brexit-vote price rises.

Top five boroughs for price rises since Brexit vote

Borough

Average house price June 2016

Average house price Sept 2023

Percentage growth

Redbridge

£388,322

£504,869

30%

Barking and Dagenham

£269,318

£345,614

28%

Havering

£339,384

£428,316

26%

Waltham Forest

£405,638

£510,471

26%

Bexley

£320,635

£396,292

24%

Source: Yopa analysis of Land Registry data

Yopa chief executive Verona Frankish said the impact of the 2016 poll was easy to miss amid all the economic, political and social shocks that have occurred since.

"While the London property market has been subject to a number of influential events in recent years, Brexit has perhaps been the most notable," she said.

"Since the EU referendum, house prices across many of the capital's more affordable boroughs have climbed by as much as 30 per cent.

"However, the prime property playgrounds of London's elite homebuyers have seen property values decline or remain largely static.

"This is almost certainly due to reduced interest from wealthy foreign buyers, both from Europe and further afield, who abandoned the capital due to the uncertain economic climate that lingered following the Brexit vote."

The five boroughs where property prices have suffered most since Brexit vote

Borough

Average house price June 2016

Average house price Sept 2023

Percentage growth

City of London

£907,964

£807,475

-11%

Westminster

£1,017,286

£967,277

-5%

Kensington and Chelsea

£1,246,351

£1,203,055

-4%

Hammersmith and Fulham

£778,275

£797,211

2%

Wandsworth

£609,995

£637,929

5%

Source: Yopa analysis of Land Registry data

Marcus Dixon, director of UK residential research at property specialists JLL, agreed that the decision to exit the EU impacted on the capital's housing dynamics.

"Central London neighbourhoods tend to have a higher proportion of residents from overseas," he explained. "The Brexit vote meant demand from overseas movers dropped, with markets like South Kensington, which traditionally attracted wealthy mainland European movers, harder hit."

Dixon pointed out that the lockdown-induced race-for-space also played a part in the capital's steady levelling-out.

"Homeowners in central London leaving for outer boroughs in search of more square footage meant price growth was higher in outer boroughs than in more central locations," he said.

Stamp duty bigger impact than Brexit

Meanwhile Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, suggested the UK's departure from the EU was something of a red herring when looking at property prices in the capital.

Although political turmoil followed the vote and subdued the housing market, other factors have helped reduce the price gap, he insisted.

"The rather more boring reason that explains the difference in house price growth between some inner and outer London boroughs in recent years is stamp duty," said Bill.

"Higher-value areas have seen lower growth after rates for £1 million-plus properties were raised in December 2014.

"As we saw during the pandemic, you should never underestimate the ability of this transaction tax to influence the behaviour of buyers and sellers."

He added: "Covid, domestic political turmoil, the mini-Budget, stamp duty and tight affordability have all played a more significant role in shaping the housing market in the capital in recent years than our membership of the EU.”