London's property experts reveal why 2015 will be a great time to buy a home

Six experts from across the building world give their predictions for 2015 - and it’s by no means all doom and gloom.
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(Left to right) Naomi Heaton, chief executive of LCP, prime London specialist; Geeta Nanda, chief executive of Thames Valley Housing Association; and Christophe Egret, partner in award-winning practice Egret West. Images by Graham Hussey and Daniel Hambury

Experts with their fingers on the pulse of building, selling, renting, finance, architecture and design give their views on what will happen in the property market next year, including after the general election in May. Whatever else they predict, they all agree interest rates are likely to stay stable — it appears that into 2015, it will remain a good time to buy.
 
THE INVESTMENT ADVISER
Naomi Heaton chief executive of LCP, prime London specialist

“London’s tale is one of two cities. There is Greater London — the domestic market with eight million people buffeted by national economic highs and lows. Then there is prime central London, a world-class destination, international not national, with just 6,000 sales a year.
 
“This year has been good for both. Average prices in prime central London increased 12.8 per cent, hitting £1.7 million. The rest of London has seen 10.7 per cent growth and a high of £514,516.
 
“There are now signs of a slowdown in Greater London, stretched to its limits of affordability. Prime central London may also taper off over the next six months as pre-election jitters traditionally see transactions fall 15 per cent. Buyers and investors might wait and see but London has strong ‘pull factors.’ It is a safe haven, a go-to destination, and a financial hotspot.

“In the private rented sector where properties trade under £2 million any hold-back will be more temporary. It falls outside threatened property taxes and the new non-resident capital gains tax caused no ripples.
 
“Sterling is set to remain low. This will only increase prime central London’s attraction for international buyers and there will be rich pickings for investors there next year, as short-term price discounts present a buying opportunity before the usual post-election bounce.”

IMAGE GALLERY: LONDON'S NEW HOMES HOTSPOTS 2015


THE ESTATE AGENT
Robert Bartlett chief executive officer of Chestertons

“Rate of house-price growth will slow but there will be growth across London of about 6.6 per cent in sales and three per cent in lettings, because of supply and demand: London’s population growth is accelerating. The Greater London Authority forecasts 49,000 new London households a year, but the London Plan only allows for 42,000 new homes per year from 2015.
 
“There will be a slow start up to the general election. The election will no doubt have a tax effect. Whether it is mansion tax from Labour, increased council tax from the Lib-Dems or capital gains tax on foreign buyers — probably a mix of all three.”

THE HOUSING ASSOCIATION CHIEF
Geeta Nanda chief executive of Thames Valley Housing Association

“Those on average incomes will continue to rent, and stay longer in rented accommodation. Shared ownership will become more popular with those on average incomes to get on the housing ladder and have some security.
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“Prices will keep rising”: Geeta Nanda. Image: Graham Hussey
 
“Prices will carry on rising, although more slowly, as interest rates will remain competitive and those able to borrow find it is cheaper to buy. Those looking to invest will still trust bricks and mortar. There will be an increasing move to the suburbs as people weigh up cost versus space, and developers move out.”
 
THE FINANCIAL WIZARD
Stephen Williams of Brewin Dolphin, housebuilding specialists

“I’m expecting house prices to continue to fall overall in London, especially at the top of the market. But sales in the suburbs are going to be stronger, so prices there will stay up.
 
“Availability of finance is going to increase in terms of mortgages. There is political pressure to improve lending. There’s a good market for mortgages and good deals to be had. This will continue. The banks had factored an interest rate rise into their prices already, so rates will hold longer than people think.”
 
THE ARCHITECT
Christophe Egret partner in award-winning practice Egret West

“London flats are smaller than those in much of Europe, so architects and designers will find ingenious solutions to use space. There will be more flip-up beds, sliding walls and folding furniture. And, because of sophisticated sprinklers, the old lobby will be removed. So the layout of flats will get smarter and work harder.
 
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“Residential buildings will get taller”: Christophe Egret. Image: Daniel Hambury 
 
“Residential buildings will get taller. There are now a lot more residential towers above 20 storeys, in places such as Canary Wharf and Millharbour. This trend will continue next year as tower blocks with attitude become sought-after homes. The private rental market is growing and becoming an established lifetime alternative to buying, so more builders will build for the rental sector. You need good-quality construction in build-to-rent, as these are long-term prospects, so construction quality will improve.”
 
THE DEVELOPER
Rob Perrin managing director of Berkeley Homes

“Everyone is determined that London will get more homes built, and completions next year will go through the roof. We [the developers] have all got spades in the ground and we won’t slow down. We know that housing is the critical issue. We need to speed up the process — quicker decisions from councils and less noise from the Bank of England. Local authorities and builders need to forge better, efficient collaborations.
 
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“Housing is the critical issue.”: Rob Perrin. Image: Tom Campbell

“I don’t think we’ll see an interest rate rise in 2015. There’s no justification for an increase. There is uncertainty about the general election in May but all parties are going to do broadly the same thing. The market and house prices are going to be a lot more stable than people think.”

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