ealthy Londoners are snapping up super luxury trophy houses in the heart of the capital at record prices in the wake of three lockdowns and amid the continuing coronavirus restrictions.
On the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum result, there are early indications that the world’s wealthiest are returning to the capital with £817.4 million spent on top end homes in the six months to April. This is up by more than a fifth on the same period the year before.
Multi-million pound sales so far this year include a 45-bedroom palace overlooking Hyde Park for £210 million to a Hong Kong-based family office. The 62,000 sq ft property was a result of the knock through of four 1830s Italianate townhouses in the mid-Eighties. The deal was closed by Beauchamp Estates.
Savills sold the penthouse and two adjoining apartments at One Grosvenor Square to a UK-based buyer for more than £138 million, also a new price bar for Grosvenor Square. The building was the former US Embassy before being redeveloped.
Mega mansions of the rich and famous
A raft of celebrity homes went on sale last year between lockdowns. Hair stylist Nicky Clarke put the family home in St John’s Wood on the market for £12 million. This was followed by a white stucco-fronted eight-bedroom detached mansion nearby that had been lived in by neighbour Rihanna. It is now on the market priced at £32 million.
Singer Ellie Goulding is also selling her house on a cobbled street in Marylebone for £5.95 million. All three properties are being marketed by Aston Chase.
Eglon House, the Modernist live-work property, was recently rented by film-maker Tim Burton, who directed the 2019 Dumbo film while living there and put up some of the movie’s executives. It is now on sale for £20 million.
London trophy homes for sale now
While Covid-19 causes mass financial hardship with job losses expected to follow the end of furlough, some schemes are setting new standards of luxury. Park Modern is the newly-launched £500 million development in Bayswater, on the north side of Hyde Park overlooking Kensington Palace Gardens.
If the penthouse sells for the asking price of £60 million it will set new price per square foot records for London, taking the title from the Candy brothers’ One Hyde Park.
The 7,000 sq ft apartment sits on top of the nine-storey building and has 2,400 sq ft of private roof terrace and a dedicated cocktail terrace. There is a yoga studio, gym and cinema and the buyer can choose to have an infinity pool installed too.
There will be no window shopping on Rightmove — the 57-home complex can only be viewed via a private micro-site.
Who are the big spenders — and where are they buying?
New data reveals that the number of buyers registering to purchase properties costing more than £10 million was 150 per cent higher in May than in January 2020, when the capital was in the throes of the pre-Covid-19 ‘Boris bounce’.
The analysis by Knight Frank shows that £36.8 billion of the world’s wealth is now targeting property in what is known as prime central London [PCL].
“PCL is turning a corner for the first time in five years,” says Liam Bailey, head of research for Knight Frank. “Sales and spending are rising as the UK’s vaccination programme gathers pace and expectations grow that travel rules will be relaxed in the coming months,” he says. Stamp duty, tax levies on overseas buyers and Brexit slowed demand before Covid quashed activity last year with prices falling up to 20 per cent.
However, Knight Frank reports prices rising slightly (0.6 per cent) in May for the first time in three years. Bailey cites a combination of easing restrictions in the UK, a rapidly growing economy and improved business sentiment.
The market is being driven by wealthy London-based buyers upsizing their homes and buying townhouses rather than apartments, explains Becky Fatemi, founder of Rokstone. “People want their own gardens after the lockdowns, their own front door and space to get the whole family together,” she says.
This is backed up by the report: the percentage of super-prime sales that were houses was at its highest level in five years. Almost three-quarters of transactions were houses compared to a split that was closer to 50/50 apartments and houses in 2017.
“The Americans are back in town. They are worried about wealth and property taxes in the US following the Biden victory and the Middle Eastern royal families are also shopping again,” Fatemi says. “It’s not just about the race for space. We are seeing the return of the trophy property collector who wants to own famous and heritage properties in London.”
Both Bailey and Fatemi put the hotspots as Kensington, Notting Hill and St John’s Wood where there are more houses and space than Mayfair and Knightsbridge.