London leads fall in March home sales as buyers hold breath for Brexit

LONDON • Asking prices for London homes fell this month as buyers hesitated on closing deals amid political turmoil over Brexit.

Average values declined in March, slumping 1.1% from February to £607,557 (RM3.28 million), property-website Rightmove said in a report yesterday. Asking prices in the capital dropped 3.8% from a year earlier with the number of sales agreed by real- estate agents 9.6% below the same period in 2018.

London’s property market has borne the brunt of uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with Europe. After years of outsized gains, values fell last year for the first time since the financial crisis, according to official data.

Gains on a national level were also subdued as sales figures indicated a slow start to the usually busier spring period. Asking prices rose 0.4% to £302,002 on the month, but posted an annual decline of 0.8%.

“Buying activity remains cooler than usual, with hesitation as some buyers await a more settled political climate,” said Miles Shipside, director at Rightmove. “There’s greater resilience the further away you get from the London market.”

A separate report by Acadata, which incorporates all housing transactions, showed UK home prices slid 0.5% in the 12 months to February. Excluding London and the south-east, values were unchanged from a year earlier.

UK mortgage lending rose in January with lenders approving 66,766 home loans, the most since October. — Bloomberg