We are now in the longest downturn in the prime London market since the 1988 – 1992 recession. The Savills index showed a decline then of 28% for flats and 16% for houses compared with a fall of 15% for flats and 13% for houses from 2014 until today. Our own Property Vision Prime London Index, based on actual sales priced by the square foot rather than agent valuation, shows a decline of 15% for houses and 21% for houses since 2014.
Today feels very different to the last recession of the 20th Century. The current downturn could be described as ‘structural’ whereas 1990s might better be labelled as ‘cyclical’. The distinction being the earlier downturn was a classic boom and bust. In a typical cycle, developers go from scraping enough money together to ply their trade, to the late cycle hubris when credit is cheap and sloshing around indiscriminately and developers are the biggest customers of Ferrari. The recession hits, interest rates skyrocket and it all comes apart. A few clever operators like Tony Pidgley of Berkeley Homes thrive but the majority hand back the keys to the Swiss chalet or the private jet and settle down to the long grind towards the next boom. It was ever thus.