The Greater London Property Drought

Home.co.uk assesses the impact of the severe property shortage in the capital

The extent of the growing housing crisis in the UK is often debated amongst political parties and in the media. Whilst the situation is being felt across the country, the crisis is most prevalent within the 32 boroughs of Greater London that are now home to almost eight million people and counting. The relentless demand to live and work in the region is one factor but this is compounded by the severe shortage of property being built and fewer numbers of existing stock being placed on the market.

In the first six months of 2013, almost 65,500 homes were put on the sales market. This may sound like a considerable number but, just three years ago, the volume of property on the London market in the first six months of 2010 was close to 87,400 properties. Since then, seasonal peaks and troughs aside, the flow of new property to the sales market has been in gradual free fall and, by June 2013, supply has contracted by 40% over three years to just shy of 10,500 homes. Looking back further, over the last six years, supply has contracted by a staggering 67% in the Greater London area.

Supply of Property for Sale in Greater London (July 2010 to June 2013)

Economic uncertainty, lending restrictions, low new build completion rates and overseas buyers have all played their part in restricting stock in recent years. However, the current situation is merely a function of investors' quest for both yield and security. The average monthly rent for a London home now stands at over £2,400. If one couples that with a monthly rise in the underlying value of the property by around 10% per annum, then the investor is presented with a highly attractive proposition.

Doug Shephard, director at Home.co.uk, commented:

"Home price rises in and around London seem to be relentless. Affordability issues for equity holders, let alone first-time buyers, are growing and hinder attempts to move. Consequently, the capital finds itself in a bizarre situation: market prices are showing signs of overheating but, despite this, they are being further inflated by the severe drought in property stock - the characteristics of a classic investment bubble.

Given the market conditions, it is no surprise that London homeowners are increasingly looking to let their existing home and then rent an alternative property, often outside of the region. This so-called 'double renting' can obviously help homeowners access a different lifestyle yet it places even more pressure on the stock of properties for sale.

As the number of new builds under construction in the capital continues to fall behind government targets with no major turnaround in sight, the emphasis must be on creating the right economic and market conditions that give potential vendors enough incentive to return to the London market in significant volumes. Economic theory suggests that incentive to divest will only come from either better performing investments aside from London property or, much worse, a bust."

Sources: Home.co.uk Asking Price Index

Notes for Editors

Over the last 28 years, Home.co.uk has become established as a dynamic, innovative and ethical service. By providing the UK's most comprehensive Property Search and Estate Agents directory coupled with detailed House Price analysis, Home.co.uk delivers the real power of the Internet to inform and empower estate agents, homebuyers, renters, landlords and sellers in across the UK.

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