Property Market Pulse

By Stuart Boughey

A very Happy New Year to you. Here we are at the start of 2020 and the dawn of a new decade! 

In this issue of Property Market Pulse, we will take a look at what happened in the residential market in November &  December 2019, the expert predictions for the coming year, and the usual guidance updates and interesting news articles. 
As the world looks into the future; we know that one thing is for certain; the early part of this decade is likely to be centred around Brexit and its uncertain effects.
The recent Conservative majority government and their pledges for solving the  housing crisis, the resolution of fire safety issues on high rise buildings and of course; the key issue for our collective efforts; climate change,  are all  certain to be grabbing headlines in the years to come. 
It is still a little early to assess the immediate impact the General Election had on the market, however it will certainly be interesting to see if any positive effects were short-lived as we steam towards the  31st January Brexit date. 

The Property Market In 60 Seconds

November UK Average House Price Index (Nationwide, Seasonally Adjusted):  £215,734
November UK Average House Price Index (Halifax, Non-Seasonally Adjusted): £234,625
Number of sales registered at HMRC**: 103,680
UK National average (all property types) asking price: £300,025
Number of mortgage approvals from Bank of England: 65,000**
London & South East: 
Strongest Market in London* : Tower Hamlets
Weakest Market in London* :  Brent
Listing to Finding a Buyer in London: 73 days
*Based on Asking Prices, Rightmove December 2019
**Based on most recently available figures (October 2019)


  • The RICS responds to the new Government with a challenge for the near future to tackle the issues facing the industry.
  • The Queen’s Speech at the opening of the new Parliament received a mixed reaction from property professionals. 
  • Emails can be contracts - A landmark ruling in Neocleous v Rees [2019] EWHC 2462 (Ch), has declared that an automatically generated e-signature can satisfy requirements for a contract under  2(3) of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989.
  • First Budget for the new government set for March 11th 

Statistics & Commentary

Nationwide (November 2019)

  • Annual house price growth remained subdued at 0.8%
  • 0.5% rise month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal factors
Robert Gardner, Nationwide's Chief Economist;
“Annual house price growth remained below 1% for the 12th month in a row in November, at 0.8%, though this was the strongest outturn since April.”
In the week preceding the election Mr Gardner also stated; 
“We have analysed house price movements in the months around previous elections, and also the 2016 EU referendum.  Past general elections do not appear to have generated volatility in house prices or resulted in a significant change in house price trends”
National Average
Average Price (seasonally adjusted) £215,734
Monthly Change: 0.5%
Annual Change: 0.8%
Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax (November);
“Average house prices rebounded somewhat in November, with annual growth of 2.1% being driven by the biggest monthly rise since February, following two months of modest falls. Prices are now up by £3,904 since the start of the year. 
While a degree of uncertainty remains prevalent, it’s also clear that buyers and sellers are responding to factors such as improved mortgage affordability and the limited supply of available properties. It is these issues which we believe will continue to underpin the resilience evident in the market for most of 2019. 
Over the medium term we expect the emerging trend of modest gains to continue into next year.”
Average Price (Non-Seasonally Adjusted) : 
November: £234,625
Monthly Change:  +1%
Quarterly Change: + 0.2%
Annual Change : +2.1%
By contrast, Figures for December show a noticeable positive across all time periods with a so called “Boris Bounce” apparently taking effect …
Average Price (Non-Seasonally Adjusted): 
December: £238,963
Monthly Change:  +1.7%
Quarterly Change: +1.0%
Annual Change: +4.0%
Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax (December);
“Average house prices rose by 4% over 2019, at the top of our predicted range of 2% to 4% growth for the year. This was driven by a monthly gain of 1.7% in December, which was the biggest monthly increase of 2019, pushing up the year-on-year growth rate and reflecting that December 2018 was a particularly weak month.
Looking ahead, we expect uncertainty in the economy to ease somewhat in 2020, which should see transaction volumes increase and further price growth made possible by an improvement in households’ real incomes.”
Source: Halifax December 2019
  • Buyer enquiries and new instructions continue to fall, although the pace of decline eases.
  • Near term sales expectations turn marginally positive for the coming three months.
  •  Respondents anticipate prices will return to growth over the next twelve months.
  • RICS Newly Agreed Sales net balance continued to signal a modest fall in headline transactions. The pace of decline however (in net balance terms) eased in comparison to the previous two months with the latest reading moving to -8% from -18% and -27% previously.
  • The headline price balance slipped to -12% in November following three consecutive months of broadly flat readings. This indicator is consistent with a modest decline in house prices at the national level over the survey period.
  • The lettings market shows, (on a non-seasonally adjusted monthly basis)  another  decline in the volume of fresh rental stock coming on the market ; broadly continuing a three year trend. 
  • A net balance of -29% of contributors reported a fall in landlord instructions in November (from -21% previously). 
  • Meanwhile, tenant demand remained steady at the national level. 
  • Consequently; rents are expected to rise modestly in the coming three months.
  • Contributors are anticipating rental growth of approximately 2% over the coming twelve month.


Speaking before the General Election,

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist;

"Confidence is critical to a well-functioning housing market and whatever happens in the general election, it is important that the new government provides reassurance both over the stewardship of the economy and the ongoing challenges around Brexit, which continues to be highlighted in a disproportionate number of remarks made by respondents to the RICS survey. Significantly, despite the inevitable near term concerns, the feedback regarding the medium term view of the market remains surprisingly sanguine, with the twelve month sales expectations indicator at its best level since the early part of 2017."


  • October saw 103,680 home sales, an increase of 4.3%.from September 2019
  • Between October 2018 and October 2019, the volume of Transactions increased by 4.3%
The number of Mortgages approved for house purchases stood at 65,000 in October,
 a -1.51% decrease from September.
Quarterly Figures (Q3) , Released 10th December 2019
  • The outstanding value of all residential mortgage loans was £1,486 billion in Q3 of 2019 -  3.9% higher than Q3 of 2018.
  • The value of gross mortgage advances was £73.3 billion, broadly unchanged in comparison to 2018.
  • The value of new mortgage commitments (lending agreed to be advanced in the coming months) was 1.1% higher than a year earlier, at £73.8 billion as of 10th December 2019.
  • The share of mortgages advanced in Q3 with loan to value (LTV) ratios exceeding 90% increased to 5.9%. - Lending in this LTV bracket is at its highest since Q4 of 2008.
  • The share of gross mortgage lending for buy-to-let purposes (covering house purchase, remortgage and further advance) was 12.3%, consistent with Q3 of 2018., 
In October 2019:
  • Net mortgage borrowing by households was £4.3 billion in October, £0.4 billion higher than in September.
  • The recent stability in the monthly flows has left the annual growth rate unchanged at 3.2%, close to levels seen over the past three years.
  • The volume of Mortgage approvals for remortgage strengthened on the month to 51,000 (A increase of 4.08% since September) 


Source: Rightmove Asking Prices (December 2019 figures)
Fast Facts December 2019
  • The average price of property coming to the Market in London in  December 2019 is repressed by circa -1.5% compared with the previous month.
  • 2019 annual rate finishes up with a 0.5% fall, the second best figure in the last 15 months, indicating year-on-year price recovery momentum in spite of usual monthly volatility.
  • Sales Agreed numbers improve by 1% for the second half of 2019compared with the same period in 2018,  while the time to sell is 3.9% quicker than lin 2018. 

  • Number of new sellers down by 21% compared with 2018. 
  • Listing to finding a buyer: up slightly from 69.2 days in November to 73 days in December. 
By Area

Avg MP



Greater London




Inner London




Outer London




South East




By Market Sector

Avg MP



First-Time Buyers




Second - Steppers




Top of the Ladder




National Average for Comparison

Avg MP



National Average




First-time Buyers








Top of the Ladder





How Individual Boroughs Have Performed;

(Organised by top annual growth to least annual growth)

Avg. price DECEMBER 2019
Monthly Change (%)
Annual Change

Tower Hamlets
























Barking & Dagenham
















Waltham Forest
















































Richmond Upon Thames
















Kingston Upon Thames












Kensington & Chelsea




Hammersmith & Fulham










The Queen’s  Speech

Following the election, the Queen delivered her speech to mark the assembly of a new government, thus prompting a mixed reaction from industry professionals. 

In Brief: 

  • Commitments to reform the business rates system and alleviate pressure for small businesses by changing indexation to CPI in place of RPI, increasing the threshold for rate relief and more frequent (every 3 years) ratings list evaluations from 2021. 
  • Further protection and reform  for Tenants.
  • Commitments towards Fire Safety.
  • Further help for First-Time Buyers, commitments to building “hundreds of thousands of new homes for a range of people in different places”,  consultations on “First Homes” where local people and key workers can get a covenanted “30% discount” and; Introduction of a clearer, fairer shared ownership model.
  • Tackling climate change. 

You can read the entire speech here



Huw Edgar; Head of UK Government Relations and City Strategy

Edinburgh, UK;

“With a parliamentary majority of this magnitude comes increased likelihood of government Bills passing and therefore great responsibility. It is imperative that the government carefully considers the social and environmental impact of its pledges. 

While the government has promised a fundamental review of the business rates system – long called for by RICS – it also needs to address the underlying problems facing high streets and town centres, which requires investment in planning, infrastructure and housing.”

Further Reading : RICS Response

Across the Industry

On the 30% discount for Local First Time Buyers:

Jeremy Raj ,Head of Residential Property at Irwin Mitchell;

“The renewed commitment towards home ownership flies in the face of prevailing trends in the way people live and work […] we simply need more confidence, more properties and a less cumbersome and expensive moving experience”

And on The Building Safety Bill: 

“[As with any legislation] This must be backed up with swift action and real money, otherwise the disappointing reaction to date will simply continue”.


Ian Fletcher, Director of Real Estate policy at the British Property Federation;

“We looking forward to engaging with the government on the issue [of the 30% discount for local first time buyers] in due course ”

While the sentiments on the Building Safety Bill echoed that of Raj; 

“[In legislation such as this]  it is only as good as the resources that are put into making any new system workable”“

Fletcher also commented on the proposed Business Rates Reforms, urging the government to “follow through on its election campaign pledge to review this broken tax” while John Webber, head of Business Rates at Colliers  cited the proposals as little more than “a sticking plaster”

Full Article: Property Week (Requires Registration)


MCHLG Pledge Funding for Crackdown on Criminal Landlords

The Ministry of Communities Housing and Local Government pledge over £4m to 100 councils across the country to “crack down on criminal landlords”.

Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick, speaking on January 3rd 2020 stated on the matter;

“This government will deliver a better deal for renters. It’s completely unacceptable that a minority of unscrupulous landlords continue to break the law and provide homes which fall short of the standards we rightly expect - making lives difficult for hard-working tenants who just want to get on with their lives.

Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and secure and the funding announced today will strengthen councils’ powers to crack down on poor landlords and drive up standards in the private rented sector for renters across the country”

The program is designed to further increase the “significant powers” local authorities have to tackle rogue landlords. 

Source: MCHLG


Emails Can Be Contracts

A recent court case in Manchester County Court in relation to a plot of land in the Lake District has set a new precedent with the ruling that an exchange of emails can amount to a legally binding contract. 

The acting solicitor for the claimant, said of the case;

“Despite there being no case law on whether an email sign-off counts as a signature for a property contract the court has found that an exchange of emails in a single chain with a name at the bottom is essentially the same as a hand-written signature on a paper contract.” 

Source: Manchester Evening News

The case number is; Neocleous v Rees [2019] EWHC 2462 (Ch), 

The court has declared that an automatically generated e-signature can satisfy requirements for a contract under  2(3) of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989.
(Source: Thompson Reuters Practical Law)


Bovis Acquires Galliford Try’s housebuilding arm (Linden Homes and Partnerships & Regeneration) for £1.1billion

The deal completed just 2 years after Galliford Try attempted to acquire the housebuilder.

Greg Fitzgerald, chief executive of Bovis;

“The combination of these businesses with Bovis Homes creates a top five housebuilder in the UK with the capacity to deliver over 12,000 homes per year in the medium term. It also gives us a leading position in the high-growth, more resilient partnerships market. Within the enlarged business, our commitment to ensuring the highest levels of build quality and customer satisfaction will remain central to everything we do.

Source: Property Week (Requires Registration)

Government Finally Announces Budget 

The first budget for the new government and the first for Chancellor Savid Javid (despite being in the post since July 2019) is finally announced for 11th March 2020.

While the whole budget is yet to be revealed, it is looking set to focus on Infrastructure with rumours of £100 billion being divided towards ‘neglected’ regions to whom the conservatives owe their election victory and a turn away from austerity to ‘responsible’ borrowing. 

Source: Mortgage Strategy

Leasehold Enfranchisement Update

The Law Commission has released their a report setting out options to reduce the cost that leaseholders have to pay to buy the freehold or extend the lease of their homes (known as “enfranchisement”). The reforms have the potential to make the process easier and more affordable for millions of leaseholders across England and Wales.
You can read a summary on the report  and download the reports: here.


Prices Predicted to Rise by 2.2% as Election Results provide “Window of Certainty”

Rightmove predicts that the  recent majority government will provide a window of certainty and will thus drive a potential 2% increase in the price of property coming to the market in 2020 as pent up demand is released, coupled with a lack of supply. 

Miles Shipside ( Rightmove director and housing market analyst) comments;

“While more political twists and turns should not be ruled out, the recent majority brings with it a removal of the uncertainty, and as a result we expect that the number of properties for sale will recover as more new sellers come to market, making up some of 2019’s  lost ground. 

Property supply is still limited, with estate agents having the lowest proportion of properties available for sale in two years, and this will fuel modest gains in the national average asking price of property coming to market. The fundamentals remain sound with low interest rates, lenders competing to lend, high employment, and average wage growth outstripping house price growth and helping buyer affordability.

The statistics for 2019 encouragingly show that the ‘have-to’ and ‘lifestage’ markets have been carrying on, and we hope that the more certain outlook would encourage many would-be discretionary movers to finally get off the fence.”

Source: Rightmove December 2019
Comments have been edited for length/clarity

RICS Housing Market Forecast 2020

  • Outlook for number of transactions is flat for the year ahead despite election outcome
  • National house price growth projected to come in around 2% over 2020
  • Rents to rise further, and at a faster pace, as supply/demand imbalance intensifies

Against the backdrop of relentless political uncertainty, sluggish economic growth, shortage of stock and stretched affordability, activity in the housing market has understandably been subdued throughout 2019, and is likely to remain so even past the January 31st deadline for Brexit, should it happen. 

The ongoing negotiations due to the transition period and headlines surrounding the future agreements with the EU will likely lead to a bout of turbulence in the next 12 months, although some confidence may return in the short run. 


Hew Edgar, RICS UK Head of Engagement and Cities Strategy;

“In the past, many Government administrations have implemented a piecemeal approach to housing and tinkered around the edge of the main issues. This needs to stop in order to make real and substantive enhancements to the UK's housing sector – whether that is the pace and quantity of housing delivery, quality standards, or energy efficiency. Mr Johnson's parliamentary majority provides an ideal opportunity to do this; but he, and his team, must grasp the nettle.

"It is imperative that the new administration hits the ground running and makes headway into the plethora of housing pledges within the Conservative manifesto – ensuring they actually deliver holistic policy, as well as moving the housing sector forward with a consistent and long-term approach”

Source: RICS Housing Market Forecast 2020 / Housing Market Forecast 2020  (Full Report)



Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club;

“The housing market may get a modest leg-up should the UK leave the EU with a deal by 31 January. We believe an easing of uncertainties could see house prices rise by around 2 per cent in 2020. Housing market activity – and possibly to a lesser extent prices – could be given a modest lift in 2020 if the government introduces specific measures aimed at boosting the sector in the Budget.

“However, the economy still looks set for a challenging 2020 even if there is a Brexit deal so that the upside for house prices is likely to be limited. Furthermore, Brexit concerns could very well pick up again as 2020 progresses due to concerns over what will happen at the end of the year if the UK and EU have failed to reach agreement on their longer-term relationship and the transition arrangement is due to end (both sides have to agree to an extension of the transition arrangement and Boris Johnson has stated that he will not seek an extension).

“Should the UK ultimately leave the EU without a deal, we believe house prices could quickly drop around five per cent amid heightened uncertainty and weakened economic activity.”

Source: City AM

Real Estate Practices on 2020


CBRE predict a 30% investment uplift in Multifamily property assets in 2020 as the appetite for single family dwellings remains subdued encouraging multifamily assets to be the preferred disposal route for developers, investor profiles diversify, domestic and overseas investors seek to gain a foothold in the UK market and the competition inherent in affordable housing suppliers intensifies. 

You can also find insight into a wide variety of asset classes, including retail and operational real estate. 

Source: CBRE 


Echoing  the sentiment, Savills suggests the Affordable Housing sector is on the rise with the number of For-Profit Registered Providers (FPRP) having leaped from around 25 suppliers in 2018 to 46 in 2019 alone, providing some additional 2,500 units/bedspaces. 

It also suggests a wider base for financing is imperative and  indicators such as the recent investment of £252m by Legal & General  in ‘Places for People’ (Acquiring 50 year lease on 4,000 sub-market housing units and management retained by Places for People) is encouraging for other investors. 

In their November 2019 residential market outlook, Savills suggests a more cautious overall growth prediction for the year 2020.

The average Capital Value growth for the UK’s so called “mainstream” market  as a  whole, sits at  1% while rental growth is likely to be around 2% 

The best outlook is in the East & West Midlands, with growth predicted to be 3% per region. 

The forecast for London looks gloomier at -2.0% in terms of capital growth, however the rental market looks likely for a rebound at +2.0% growth. 

Prime Central London (PCL), by contrast  looks to benefit from a resurgence of circa 3% for capital value growth  and 1% for the Rental Market. 

Source: Savills / Residential Market Forecast

Professional Regulation & Guidance Updates

The RICS release the new Global Red Book 2020 ,incorporating IVS
Effective from 31st January 2020

Download a copy here: Red Book Global Standard 2020

Valuation of Individual New Build Homes 
Latest guidance for the valuation of individual/unique homes

Valuation of Individual New Build Homes, 3rd Edition, December 2019

The RICS release much needed guidance for the Valuation of Development Property 

Download your copy here: 
Valuation of Development Property, 1st Edition, October 2019,

So there we have it!                         

2019 all wrapped up and 2020 just beginning. 

Whatever happens next, we are all in for an interesting ride.                  

Thanks for reading and I want to sign off for this month by once again wishing  all our readers, clients and partners a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2020.


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About the author

Stuart Boughey  avatar

Stuart Boughey

Being the forensic detailed driven Surveyor that he is, Stuart's analysis and interpretation of all things property market related make him the best person within the Arnold & Baldwin family to bring you all of the latest news and commentary. Having trained in London, his knowledge of the area is fantastic. If you would like to make suggestions on any improvements, or additional information for Stuart to focus on, his phone is always on!

Read more about Stuart Boughey

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