Karen Goodin from Heaton & Partners shares London’s latest property buying trends….
Dealing in the top end of the prime central London property market, buying agents represent some of the wealthiest buyers in the capital. There has been an increase in the number of buyers from emerging markets such as South America, India and China; however, Americans and Europeans still make up a huge tranche of foreign investment in London. American clients tend to be drawn to the older, period properties, in traditional prime areas such as Kensington and Chelsea. Americans love the historical and cultural nature of London and tend to prefer period houses with some history, unlike the glitzy prime central London mega-developments which are the favourite of Middle Eastern and Russian buyers. Many foreign buyers in London are drawn here not only because of the fantastic historical, cultural and lifestyle elements of the city, but also because of its safe haven status. Wealthy foreigners bought more than half of London’s most expensive homes in 2013, which helped to push up the average price of prime central London property by over 57% in as little as four years. Over the last few years, the weak pound and ultra-low interest rates created a heady cocktail for foreign investors, coupled with the fact that the law is straightforward and Britain has a stable political environment – plus a secure property market – which all helps to draw those from more unstable backgrounds.
Whilst London’s property market still retains its status as one of the world’s most reliable investments, the house price growth has actually slowed over the last few months. Savills Estate Agency has actually predicted that prime central London property will drop by 1% in 2015 (for the first time in five years) and also at the very top end of the market over £10 million, prices are seen to be plateauing. So far, changes to mansion tax have not affected the super prime market; however, the increased tax burden could potentially put off some overseas investors. The market still needs to be able to contend with the political rhetoric regarding the taxation of high value property and ongoing background noise regarding the possible mansion tax. While foreign property owners face the introduction of 28% capital gains tax next year, they can trade equities for free so some investors may turn to the increasingly buoyant stock market rather than to property. Many of the world’s super rich will still want to own a home in London though, so demand from owner-occupiers is set to continue, but perhaps those seeking whole blocks for investment may drop off.
Meanwhile, Rachel Johnston from Stacks Property Search shares the “hot or not” list property vendors should take note of….
1) Party Barns – anything from a dilapidated outbuilding to a properly renovated barn with underfloor heating and full sound system counts as a party barn. Who cares – a party barn is a party barn, and every home should have one.
2) Tikki Bar Cabana – a small, covered space in the garden, possibly octagonal, probably thatched. Think Tom Cruise in Cocktail and get on trend.
3) Dressing Rooms – everyone seemingly has too many clothes for a wardrobe. The best dressed houses all have a customised dressing room, sometimes sacrificing a bedroom for the purpose.
4) Plunge Pools – today’s alternative to a swimming pool. Just enough space to plunge in and cool off, but takes up less space, and requires little maintenance compared to the full-sized thing.
5) Paddocks – they used to be called fields, but now they’re called paddocks and conjure up images of ponies and chickens, rather than a man with a tractor.
1) Egg-shaped Baths – these will date your makeover too obviously. Aim for a more classic bathroom look.
2) Grey – the new greige. It will be all over by 2016. Polished concrete falls into the same category.
3) Signature Walls – oversized flowery wallpaper on one wall of a room. Keep the flowers outside in the garden.
4) Outdoor Swimming Pools – much too much maintenance; far too little use. Go for a plunge pool, or an indoor pool that can open up to the gardens, with direct access from the house.
5) Bi-fold Doors – they’re no longer aspirational, and can be found in every mass development. Quality is incredibly variable, and they’re not really very practical.