London house sales near peak

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The Independent Online
HOUSE sales in London are near their 1988 peak in both volumes and prices, according to John D Wood, the upmarket estate agent, which dismisses fears that the housing recovery is stalling.

George Pope, joint chairman, said: 'We believe the market changed in January 1993. Since then we have seen a sustained recovery and values in central London have risen by 20 per cent. We have no reason to believe it will not be sustained from here on.'

One of the problems in the market was lack of houses coming on the market to satisfy demand, in both London and country properties. Overseas buyers were returning to the market, particularly from Hong Kong.

The group estimates that turnover in its London offices rose 50 per cent in the year to April. Its offices in towns around London were a little less buoyant, but total turnover for the group was still 44 per cent ahead at pounds 6.7m.

That put it back into the black for the first time since 1991, with a pounds 412,000 pre-tax profit against a pounds 228,000 loss last time. It celebrated with a 1.25p final dividend, making 2p for the year, the first payment since 1991, on earnings of 5p (2.8p loss). The shares, quoted on the unlisted securities market, rose 4p to 89p.

Wood has nine branches in London - the ninth opened in Belgravia in March - as well as offices in towns such as Oxford, Cirencester and Lymington. It serves the upper end of the market with an average price of between pounds 300,000 and pounds 400,000.

Mr Pope said the company was looking at opening other offices, but refused to be drawn on specific plans.

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