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Coutts London Prime Property Index | Q4 2018

Slow sales and steep discounts still define London’s luxury property market, but activity at the top end provides some silver lining.

5 min read


All the latest trends on high-end property across London, area-by-area. Find out how the market’s doing where you live.


Annual fall in number of prime properties sold


Fall in prime prices since Q4 2017


Average discount buyers are getting off asking price

  • Overview

    Chapter 01


    Super prime property looking up

    London’s priciest properties are bucking the trend of today’s listless housing market by selling fast and fetching the asking price.

    This is good news for homeowners at the very top of the capital’s luxury housing market. It reflects the resilience of so-called ‘super prime’ property in times of greater uncertainty – such as the current dampened market mood brought on by Brexit.

    Properties worth £10 million or more are selling within three months on average – the shortest period since the start of 2016. This is a marked improvement on the last quarter of 2017 when they took over six months to sell.

    Only a fifth of these properties are being sold at a discount too – again, the lowest number for three years.

    Katherine O’Shea, from the Coutts Strategic Solutions team, says, “The latest numbers prove there’s always a place for super prime property. There are more billionaires living in London than any other city in the world*, the M&A market is booming – good for entrepreneurs’ bank accounts – and high-end London property is often popular with lottery winners.

    “Also, the weaker pound favours foreign buyers looking to take advantage and get a good deal on a luxury London home.”

    * Sunday Times Rich List, May 2018


    Bigger picture still sluggish

    The broader prime property market continues to tell a different story, however.

    High-end London homes – those valued between £1 million and £10 million – are taking over five months to change hands. That’s a 10% rise on how long they took at the tail-end of 2017. More than half are selling below asking price with buyers getting almost 13% off on average. There are fewer sales than a year ago too, with the number of London’s prime properties sold in the last three months of 2018 down 12%.

    This is all happening even though prices are 7% lower than the same period last year and are 17% below their 2014 peak.

    “People are feeling cautious at the moment due to Brexit and the stamp duty hikes introduced in 2014 and 2016,” says Katherine. “This is still affecting prime property sales. Transactions are taking more time partly because renegotiation on the price is more common in times of uncertainty.”

    But she adds, “The number of properties under offer at the very end of the year was higher than the end of 2017, which could be a sign that sales volumes will increase in the coming quarter. But it’s also indicative of a market that simply has a longer sales cycle – from an offer being accepted through to the exchange of contracts.”

  • Local Highlights

    Chapter 02

    Local trends

    Knightsbridge & Belgravia sellers stick to their guns

    Sellers in salubrious Knightsbridge & Belgravia are holding out for the asking price despite falling prices across the capital.

    Alongside Hampstead & Highgate, prime properties in Knightsbridge & Belgravia are staying on the market longer, taking an extra 25% more time to sell than a year ago. But while this has led to half of Hampstead’s high-end property eventually selling at a discount, only one-third of Knightsbridge & Belgravia’s luxury homes is failing to fetch the asking price.

    This shows sellers staying patient and standing firm. And their resolve has helped prop up prime prices, which fell just 2% over the last year in the area compared to the London-wide figure of 7%.

    At the top of the market, addresses in Knightsbridge & Belgravia are also highly sought-after, putting that part of London among those seeing the most super prime sales – alongside Kensington, Notting Hill & Holland Park, and Mayfair & St James’s.


    King's Cross & Islington defies price falls

    King’s Cross & Islington has flown in the face of the subdued sellers’ market, being the only area to see prices rise over the past year. They rose by 8% across the whole year despite falling during the third quarter of 2018. Other success stories for sellers can be found in Kensington, Notting Hill & Holland Park, and Marylebone, Fitzrovia & Soho, with properties selling up to 20% faster compared to the same period last year.

    Meanwhile, Chelsea and Fulham & Earl’s Court saw the biggest price falls from their respective peaks within the past five years. This is bad news for sellers but good news for buyers as those areas now appear to be good value for money.

    “The latest numbers prove there’s always a place for super prime property.”
    Katherine O’Shea, Coutts Strategic Solutions team

    Time to buy?

    Overall, London presents a difficult environment for investors looking to make short-term gains from prime property. This is due to limited capital growth prospects, an onerous tax regime, Brexit uncertainty, and worries around the oversupply of new-build homes.

    But for those looking to buy a property and keep it, at least for the time being, the market has moved in their favour.

    Alex Lyneel, Head of Mortgage Proposition at Coutts, says, “While we see a slightly different story from one part of London to another, they all have one very important thing in common. Across prime London, property prices are lower than they used to be but sales volumes are really taking a hit too.

    “This all shows the extent to which buyers and sellers are currently in ‘wait and see’ mode, largely because of the uncertain political and economic environment caused by Brexit. But those buyers who find a property they like and want to keep are therefore uniquely positioned to negotiate a good discount – especially those who are cash-rich and chain-free.”

    How we can help you buy your home

    At Coutts we recognise that property is the most significant asset many of us own. We will take the time to understand your objectives and build the right team to help you make informed property decisions.

    We are able to design a lending solution tailored to your needs, or provide access to Coutts pre-selected panel of leading UK residential buying agents who can find you some of the most exceptional UK residential properties.

    To find out more about how we can help, speak to your private banker or call Coutts 24 on 020 7957 2424.

    Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
    Over-18s only. Terms and conditions apply. You may not be eligible for all Coutts mortgage solutions. Security may be required.

  • Interactive Map & Postcode Selector Tool

    Chapter 03

    Interactive Map & Postcode Selector Tool

    Use the map and postcode selector below to see how your area performed last quarter.

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Key Takeaways

Luxury London property at the very top of the market is selling in good time and achieving the asking price, the latest Coutts London Prime Property Index reveals.

The wider market for high-end property in the capital remains sluggish, however, with homes taking over five months to change hands. More than half of them are selling below asking price and buyers are getting good discounts.

King’s Cross & Islington has bucked the current trend with prices rising over the past year, while Chelsea and Fulham & Earl’s Court have seen the biggest price falls in recent years.

The Coutts London Prime Property Index is one of the many tools at our disposal to help you find and buy your home – others include tailor-made mortgages and access to the UK’s best buying agents.

About Coutts Real Estate

With significant experience in the real estate market, Coutts real estate experts draw on a clear understanding of our clients' property investment objectives, extensive connections and expertise to provide a consolidated service that meets their needs.

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