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Antony Antoniou – Luxury Property Expert

The South East Commuter Belt Hit Hard by Housing Price Collapse

The South East Commuter Belt Hit Hard by Housing Price Collapse


The property market in the South East of England, especially in the commuter belt, has been facing significant challenges due to a collapse in house prices. Rising mortgage rates have forced many homeowners to sell their properties at a discount, leading to a surge in discounted listings.

**1. High Mortgage Rates Triggering Discounts**

According to exclusive data from Zoopla, in July, a staggering 8% of homes listed for sale in the region had asking price reductions of 5% or more. This figure marks a sharp increase from the five-year average of 4.4% and is the highest share of discounted listings in the entire country. Industry experts have pointed out that high mortgage rates are the primary culprit behind this trend.

**2. Financial Struggles for Homeowners**

Homeowners in the South East are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the rising costs as their fixed-rate deals come to an end, and they face significantly higher mortgage bills. Claire Carter, an estate agent at John D Wood & Co in the South East, shared her observations about the situation. She mentioned encountering clients who were previously financially secure with stable jobs but are now facing unexpected financial challenges. For example, she cited a family forced to sell their home because their monthly mortgage bill tripled from £1,500 to a staggering £4,500.

**3. Drastic Adjustments in Lifestyle and Budgets**

Many households are making drastic changes to their plans, such as forgoing private school education for their children and relocating to areas closer to grammar schools. This is indicative of the pressure people are feeling to cut costs amid rising mortgage expenses. Sellers are also making substantial price cuts as they can no longer borrow as much, leading to significant shifts in the market dynamics.

**4. Regional Impact: East of England and London**

The East of England ranked second in terms of homes listed with discounts of at least 5%, with 7.3% of listings featuring reduced prices. London followed closely behind, with 6.6% of listed homes advertising major price cuts. Affordability has become a significant concern in these regions, with house prices soaring during the Covid pandemic, growing at nearly double the rate of the capital.

**5. Squeezed Affordability and Market Dynamics**

The impact of squeezed affordability is evident as homeowners in these regions face more significant financial hits when mortgage bills rise in proportion to their earnings. Data from Moneyfacts reveals that the average quote on a two-year fixed-rate loan has climbed from 2.52% two years ago to a daunting 6.85%. This means that taking out a £200,000 loan now costs £495 more per month than it did in August 2021.

**6. The Decline in Buyer Budgets**

The days of very low-interest rates, when buyers were comfortable taking out large mortgages, are long gone. Many potential buyers have had to adjust their budgets downward, leading to a considerable shift in the market dynamics. Estate agents confirm that buyers are now more cautious and selective in their spending due to the higher mortgage costs.


In conclusion, the property market in the South East commuter belt has been severely affected by the housing price collapse. Rising mortgage rates have put immense pressure on homeowners, forcing many to sell their properties at discounted prices. While the region has been more affordable than London, overheated prices during the pandemic and a surge in mortgage costs have resulted in a significant decline in property values. Sellers and buyers alike are adjusting to this new reality, with the days of taking out large mortgages at low-interest rates becoming a thing of the past.

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