Clapham’s price cuts attract first-time buyers


Homeowners trying to sell their property in Clapham, south London, today are likely to face a choice: stay at asking price and risk not selling, or reduce. Sixty per cent are going for the latter, according to LonRes. The average reduction from initial asking price to selling price is the highest the area has seen since the financial crisis, at 8.5 per cent.

“What we’re seeing in Clapham is a hangover after a really good party,” says buying agent Henry Pryor, referring to the huge growth in house prices over the past 10 years — which LonRes puts at 69 per cent. One client will only consider properties where the seller “acknowledges the change in weather” by lowering the price.

The south London neighbourhood has been popular with young families for years, thanks to its streets of Victorian houses and abundance of good prep and state schools. Clapham is cheaper than neighbouring Battersea — where you’ll pay about 9 per cent more for the average terraced house than Clapham’s £1.19m, according to Zoopla.

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Despite parts of it being onerous to reach — the west of the neighbourhood has no tube stations, only Clapham Junction overground — it is an area popular with well-off young professionals, often working in financial services. Many rent but whereas buy-to-let landlords were once keen to snap up the area’s family homes and convert them into house and flat shares, the 3 per cent stamp duty premium added in 2016 and the phased withdrawal of mortgage income tax relief from 2017 have caused a number of investors to desert the market. In 2018, average prices dropped 6.4 per cent, according to LonRes.

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Landlords are being replaced by first-time buyers keen to take advantage of lower prices, say some agents. “Everyone that’s young now feels like they have an opportunity to get on the property market,” says Rebecca Higgins, head of the Knight Frank office in Clapham.

Most will need wealthy parents, though. Higgins estimates that 60 per cent of her sales to first-time buyers are reliant on financial backing from the so-called bank of mum and dad.

In the past year, Savills has seen an increase in registered buyers, says Helene MacBrayne, associate director at Savills Clapham. Viewing numbers have almost doubled, she says.

But while more people are shopping around, there have been fewer follow-throughs. In the past year, transactions have fallen 10 per cent, according to LonRes — and are 34 per cent down on five years ago.

Some of the most prized homes surround Clapham Common, the 220-acre park in the heart of the district. Since 2016, it has hosted the House of Common festival, organised and headlined by the ska band Madness. On Clapham Common North Side, Hamptons International is selling a five-bedroom terraced house for £2.75m. It was first listed for sale in May 2016 for £3.25m. Just off Clapham Park Road, Foxtons is selling a two-bedroom flat for £750,000. It was first listed in July last year but was reduced by £50,000 after one day.

Five-bedroom terraced house, £2.75m

“Prices are more realistic and closer to value,” says Richard Marsh, partner at buying agents Property Vision.

Reductions may be a last resort for frustrated sellers, but for new buyers who are confident in the face of Brexit, this is an opportune moment for negotiation. Cameron — who did not want to give his last name — bought his three-bedroom terraced house in Clapham this year for £745,000, reduced from £800,000. “I wasn’t wedded to the property but in the long term now is a good time to pick up a few bargains,” he says.

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Despite gloomy forecasts for the London market, he is confident that his property was a good investment. After asking different estate agents what property would be easiest to sell, he settled on a three-bedroom house that could be sold to a family after he had renovated it.

On the other side of Clapham Junction, residential developer Taylor Wimpey has partnered with Wandsworth Council to regenerate 26 acres of the Winstanley and York estates, which will provide social housing. The proposed development, called York Gardens, will include 2,250 new homes, 35 per cent of which will be “affordable”. The first phase, Junction House, launched this month, with apartments priced from £379,000.

In the wider market, “things are still bubbling away”, says Higgins. At Knight Frank, they have just received three offers on one house. “It’s a trickier market but a good time to buy,” she says.

Buying guide

  • Properties in the area spent an average 157 days on the market last year, according to LonRes
  • The journey from Clapham Junction to the City takes around 40 minutes
  • The average price per square foot in 2018 was £761, compared with £813 the year before, LonRes reports

What you can get for . . .

£550,000 A one-bedroom new-build flat near Clapham Junction

£1.2m A four-bedroom terraced house near Clapham Common

£2.6m A semi-detached six-bedroom Victorian house just off Clapham Common

More homes at propertylistings.ft.com

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