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Time to buy in Maida Vale? Demand slumps for London’s priciest properties

The appeal of £2 million ($3.1 million)-plus properties in London appear to be waning, with sales in the capital's most prestigious districts at a year-low, according to online estate agency eMoov.co.uk.

Demand for properties in the most expensive areas of central London fell by as much as two-thirds between June and October, as judged by the percentage of properties sold versus the previous quarter.

The worst-affected area was Maida Vale, a primarily residential area in northwest central London, where demand fell by a steep 66 percent over the last three months, according to eMoov.co.uk, which used data collated from property websites Zoopla and Rightmove.


The interior of a 7-bedroom house in Maida Vale, close to Regent’s Park.
Photo: Foxtons
The interior of a 7-bedroom house in Maida Vale, close to Regent’s Park.

Also hard hit were Chiswick, Fitzrovia and Primose Hill, with sales as a proportion of inventory falling by one-quarter or more in each district.

"We, along with many others, predicted a tough time for prime central London since 2014, and it would seem this has now well and truly come to fruition," said founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk, Russell Quirk, in a report out on Friday.

Despite widespread complaints of a shortage of housing in London, Quirk said that there was an abundance of new stock at the top-end, at a time when demand from wealthy foreign investors appeared to be waning.

"It would seem the foreign London property investors have started to cash in their chips, whilst the high-end estate agents might have started pawning their Rolex's," he said.

Prime Central London - from myleasehold.co.uk

EMoov.co.uk said that the stock of prime central London property had increased by 9.9 percent since the U.K. election in May, while demand had dropped by 8 percent.

The stock increase following the landslide victory of the center-right Conservative Party could be because sellers were holding property off the market in the uncertain pre-election period.

Meanwhile, the slowdown in the Chinese economy and recent bouts of extreme stock market volatility may have deterred wealthy Chinese from making large-scale investments abroad—including in the previously popular London property market.

On the other hand, upscale retail agency Knight Frank reported an upsurge in demand for London properties from Thailand in August, while rival Savills has said that the importance of overseas buying to the London market was overrated.

Only five of the 16 prime central London districts listed by eMoov.co.uk saw demand increase between June and October.

Notting Hill—an area made famous by the 1990s movie of the same name, featuring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts – sharply outperformed, with sales as a proportion of inventory jumping 112 percent.

Q3 demand for London property - eMoov.co.uk

— By CNBC's Katy Barnato. Follow her on Twitter @KatyBarnato.