As if Southern Rail commuters were not having the best of times, with disruptions and delays on their journey to London, another expensive indignity has been heaped upon them.
So bad is the rail service that house prices have frozen or fallen as the Home Counties commuter towns look less attractive to potential city escapees.
Online estate agents HouseSimple.com said property price growth had come to a standstill along the Brighton Mainline, Mainline West and Mainline East routes since July.
Over the past year, prices have made a healthy rise – £21,106 – but since July and the start of the latest round of strikes by rail union RMT, average prices had fallen by almost £1,875.
The estate agent found only four locations along the routes it looked at – Hove, Pulborough, Haywards Heath and Gatwick Airport – where house prices have increased since July – but that’s just by £234 typically.
Alex Gosling, chief executive of HouseSimple.com, said: “It would be a real kick in the teeth if home owners, who have had to endure the daily misery of train delays, cancellations and strike action, started to see the value of their homes falling.”
It comes at a time when the market generally is soft – and particularly so in London. With concerns over the impact of Brexit, the value of the pound and increased Stamp Duty on buy-to-let, people are hunkering down resulting in a shortage of supply as well as demand.
House price growth in London has slowed to its weakest levels in nearly two years but there are signs that home buyers in other major cities continue to feel confident in the market, according to a report by property analysts Hometack.
Property values in London increased by 0.9% in the three months to September, marking the slowest rate of growth seen there since January 2015.
On a year-on-year basis, house price growth in London was still in double digits, with values rising by 10% over the last year to reach £480,500 on average.
But Hometrack expected the annual rate of house price growth in London to slow closer to 5% by the end of the year.
Bristol continued to see the fastest annual house price growth in September out of the cities monitored, with values increasing by 12.3%. The average home in Bristol now had a value of £259,800.
Richard Donnell, Insight Director at Hometrack, said: “In London, market conditions and new taxes are hitting investor demand while homeowners face stretched affordability levels which are combining to slow the rate of house price growth.”
While central London prices have frozen, or even fallen, because of the drop in interest in the prime market, Newham is the capital hotspot with annual price increases of 23.7%, lifting the average from just over £300,000 in August last year to almost £373,000 in August this year.
It is evidence that Newham and the outer boroughs are catching the outward bound wave of price rises from neighbouring Tower Hamlets, which saw a 13.6% rise on a higher average – £476,777. Greenwich was up 12.3% to an average £382,874.