Camden house prices plunge over 30 per cent in just one month

Don't believe the headlines - house price indexes can't show the whole picture in a market like Camd

Don't believe the headlines - house price indexes can't show the whole picture in a market like Camden's - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Asking prices in the borough have dropped significantly since March, but is it a case of a cooling market, competitive pricing, or just Camden’s quirky property micro climate?

Camden was the worst performing borough for house prices in April 2017, according to the Rightmove house price index.

Taking the plunge

Prices fell 31.2 per cent since March, dropping from an average of £1,472,558 to £1,012,479. The average price in April 2016 was £1,150,149, representing an annual drop of 12 per cent.

Despite the sudden fall, the cooling of the market in north London’s prime property postcodes is down to longer term market trends, rather than recent political events such as the triggering of Article 50 at the end of March.

Getting competitive

“Sellers in the capital are having to trim their price aspirations to try to tempt spring buyers to buy their property instead of one down the road,” said Rightmove director Miles Shipside.

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He added: “The more discretionary upper end of the market is having to tempt buyers with cheaper asking prices, offsetting the higher purchase taxes in this sector.”

Rather than signalling a worrying slump in property values, the figures suggest that the market is undergoing some overdue correction after years of rapidly rising house prices.

Prime time

With the average house price in Camden still over the £1 million mark many properties fall into the higher brackets for stamp duty land tax, and buyers increasingly expect the difference to be factored into the asking price.

The prime property market is still reeling from the changes to stamp duty introduced at the end of 2014 and compounded by the surcharge for second homes added in April last year.

As they entered a buyers market, local agents called for sellers to price their properties realistically to encourage interest, whilst those who slashed significant sums from the asking prices generally saw an uptick in interest.

Pinch of salt?

House price indexes can only offer a snapshot view of the market, and in a borough as unique as Camden the situation is often a lot more nuanced than attention grabbing rises or falls.

In February of this year the same house price index recorded a rise of 27.2 per cent month on month.

Director of Goldschmidt and Howland Philip Green suggests this is because of the wide range of property on offer in Camden at any given time.

“The property market is a bit all over the place. We’re seeing record prices in achieved in one road, and then in the next street we see prices falling and you can’t sell the property. So that definitely doesn’t mean prices are dropping across the board in Camden.”

Bargain hunters given hope by headlines heralding falling prices in London will be disappointed.

“The market is a lot softer, and buyers’ expectations don’t match vendors and that’s the problem,” he said. Sellers are reluctant to sell for a price that is less than what they expected, whereas buyers tracking house price indexes online expect to see an immediate price reduction.

Price is right

It isn’t as simple as pricing competitively to ensure a sale either, suggests Mr Green

“You bring on something special and it ends up going to best bids, but equally there are other properties where we’ve reduced the price several times and still can’t find a buyer,” he explained.

In areas such as Hampstead, it’s not merely a case of valuing property on a pound per sq ft basis, and neighbouring properties often go for a completely different price.

“It isn’t about one size fits all, and that’s always what’s been special about Camden,” said Mr Green.

He advises any sellers perturbed by today’s headlines about London’s property prices to keep calm and carry on pricing correctly.

“There’s nothing to panic about, but try to be price conscious about your home when you sell. Being sensible about your price does make a difference.”