How Much Further To Fall?

We do some number crunching to try and shed light on the local housing market

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H&F house prices fall faster than anywhere else in London

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House prices in Hammersmith and Fulham once again appear to be falling faster than anywhere else in London – depending on how you read the statistics.

In its latest quarterly House Price Report, the Nationwide Building Society says that from July-September 2008, the average house price in H&F was £426,801 – a staggering 13% less than the same quarter last year and the biggest drop in the capital.

Land Registry figures, meanwhile, are complied monthly and give a different impression. In its report on August 2008 house prices, the Registry says the average price in H&F was £490,277, showing no change at all from the previous month and an increase of 0.8% compared to 2007. 

The property website Rightmove.co.uk, which records initial asking prices rather than the amount that is actually agreed, lists Hammersmith and Fulham as one of London's five 'best performers' in its October House Price Index.

"We measure house prices at the beginning of the house selling process, determined by the seller's expectations," said a Rightmove spokesperson, explaining why the different house price indices all give such a different impression. "Then the Halifax & Nationwide carry out their Index, measuring at the transaction period. Then the Land Registry measure their Index, after the property has sold."

Commenting on the huge drop cited by Nationwide, Simon Waller of Winkworth Estate Agency on the Uxbridge Road said the figures referred to the whole borough: “W12 is not exposed to drops like that,” he said. “Fulham has been more adversely affected than us.”

He said the price decreases that had occurred in W12 had come on the back of huge increases last year, driven by the desire to buy near the new shopping centre.

“Shepherd’s Bush grew massively last year. Prices went up 38% from January until Northern Rock (September 2007) and we had 4 or 5 sealed bids a week. Now we are back to 2006 levels and we agreed 8 sales in September. Prices are still falling but we don’t feel there’s much to go unless there’s another disaster. Maybe another 5%,” he said.

In its October House Price Index, Rightmove says vendors are asking for less money: “The downward trend in asking prices continues, with new sellers now marketing at 4.9% less than 12 months ago, the largest year-on-year fall ever recorded by Rightmove,” the website says.

In Hammersmith and Fulham, however, it seems that vendors still have high expectations. According to Rightmove’s statistics, the average asking price in the borough in September was £692,677; this month, the figure is £711,740 – a 2.8% increase and one of the highest asking price increases in the capital.

Nationwide indicates that the market is becoming less volatile: “House prices have now fallen for eleven consecutive months, but the monthly rate of fall has been almost unchanged in the last three months,” says the Nationwide’s Chief Economist, Fionnuala Earley.

“House prices will continue to fall in the short term, but longer term prospects are more sound,” the Building Society says.

Yasmine Estaphanos

21 October 2008