2010 – a London property lawyer's perspective

What a year 2010 was.    Depending on who you speak to you could have been excused for thinking that buying in London was a 'mugs game' - especially with the prevalence of down-valuations.

Yet data from the Department of Communities and Local Government paints a very different picture.

During the first 10 months of 2010 house prices in the London actually rose by over 8%!  In contrast prices in Northern Ireland fell by nearly 10 percent.   In that context I am very glad I spent the year Conveyancing in London rather than Northern Ireland.

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It wasn't just the more prime residential areas like Kensington, Chelsea, Belgravia and Mayfair that experienced increases.   In fact in many cases the rise in the multi million pound sector has been a little slower with Conveyancing transactions actually dipping in the last quarter of the year.

Certain areas in London saw even bigger rises however.   Barnet, Ealing, Barnes and Hampstead have all experienced good hikes and we noted that purchasers and sellers alike trended towards the Local (London) Conveyancer with respective local knowledge.   Correspondingly we also saw an increase in referred transactions for Conveyancing in London from Estate Agents in the vicinity.

Thankfully this didn't seem to affect Conveyancing Fees.   Media hysteria seemed to suggest that bargains were there for the taking and for the cash buyer it was frequently the case.   We noticed that as people put more and more effort into snapping up a bargain, the buyer's sense of urgency to complete on the transaction heightened.   Increasingly property purchasers valued local knowledge at a premium as it was (rightly) perceived that local knowledge would help accelerate the transaction.

2011 looks set to be another turbulent year in the housing market.   With new lending criteria regulation coming from the FSA. (Yes that’s right - the same organisation that was entrusted with such huge responsibilities 2 years ago are still pulling the strings)  As a result we may see lending continue to tighten well into the year.

Overall the Conveyancing market contracted of course and a continuation of the difficulty in securing a mortgage could still further pinch Conveyancers and Agents alike as first time buyers find it even harder to get on the property ladder.   In a recent article the Housing Minister Grant Shapps said not even he would get a mortgage under the new rules.   Mr Cameron has also expressed concerns.

Call me naive (I only handle Conveyancing in London it's true) but don't these guys have any influence?  As our American cousins would say, kick butt and start taking names.