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Salisbury house prices fall by nearly 10% after novichok attack



Local estate agents say buyer interest from outside city has collapsed since poisonings

A police tent and cordon in Salisbury city centre in March
A police tent and cordon in Salisbury city centre in March. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

House prices in Salisbury have dived by nearly a 10% since the novichok poisonings, according to analysis of Land Registry data.

The average price of a home sold in the city in the three months from May to July was £299,207, down from £328,243 in the previous three months. The poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal took place in early March.

The analysis by the lender Cashback Remortgages found that the 8.8% fall in prices in Salisbury contrasted with a 1.9% rise in prices over the same period across the whole of Wiltshire and increases in other neighbouring counties.

Local estate agents say interest from outside the city has collapsed since the poisonings. David McKillop, of the Salisbury estate agents McKillop and Gregory, said the firm would typically sell 65% of its homes to buyers from outside the city, but demand had evaporated.

“With outside buyers from London and the home counties not coming in, the market relies on local buyers, and Salisbury people will not pay the top price for property. In the past, if you put ‘Salisbury’ into Google you’d come up with the cathedral. Now it says poisonings.”

He said other factors such as Brexit uncertainty and a general downturn in the property market in the south of England had also affected the local market. Property experts also caution against reading too much into local short-term price statistics as these can be affected by one-off sales.

However, McKillop cited one property in the city recently that he said had a realistic asking price of £395,000 but eventually fetched just £360,000. He said one estate agency in the town had closed and others were dependent on lettings income as sales dried up.

Most of Salisbury’s estate agents are based in Castle Street, yards from the bench outside the Zizzi’s restaurant where the Skripals were discovered unconscious.

It is not just property sellers and their agents who are suffering economically from the novichok scandal in the city. Many businesses had to close temporarily, and footfall in town centre shops fell by as much as 80%.

Suchit Sethi, of Cashback Remortgages, said: “Over the past seven months Salisbury has been at the centre of an international scandal. The research we’ve carried out suggests the scandal may have fed its way through to the local property market.

“Prices have fallen disproportionately in Salisbury and the events this year may well be what has driven that decline. It’s possible that the relentless media attention focused on the city has stirred up doubts in the minds of some prospective buyers and contributed to a drop-off in demand.”

McKillop was confident buyers would return to the city. “Life carries on in Salisbury. The novichok poisonings are not going to happen again,” he said. “There is no need to panic.”

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