It’s the success story of the century – no other country in the world has attracted such a firestorm of wealthy international investors as London. Foreigners spent £7 billion on London property during 2013, a year in which the UK saw the arrival of 114,100 shiny new high-net-worth individuals. The price of prime London property is second only to that found in Monaco and Hong Kong.
As author Philip Beresford explained in LUXOS after his humble tome, the Sunday Times Rich List, announced that London has the highest number of billionaires of any city in the world, “The capital is politically stable, remarkably uncorrupt, the rule of law is respected, the language is easy and the time zone convenient. London is one of the few capitals where entrepreneurs can trade in all the major financial markets in a single day – Asia in the early morning, Europe during the day, and the US in the evening. The schools are good, the restaurants world class, the arts the envy of the world and community relations healthy.”
Marathon House, Marylebone
And if the capital is home to some extreme wealth, it is all too welcoming: non-dom status exempts internationals from paying UK tax on foreign assets, a loophole that has been in place for around two hundred years.
Beresford talks of the ‘golden triangle’ of Mayfair, Belgravia and Chelsea, areas that are also home to some of the capital’s leading schools. Faron Sutaria’s South Kensington office has noticed a rise in Chinese Buyers specifically looking to purchase close to Imperial College, part of the University of London. It can be no coincidence that some of London’s other most desirable areas – Hampstead, St John’s Wood, Richmond, Kensington et al – hold its leading international schools.
Godfrey Street, Chelsea
You can buy into period properties or new builds; formed as houses, maisonettes or flats. Increasingly overseas investors buy off-plan – Knight Frank reports that 80% of the flats in a recently-launched Thameside development were sold to buyers outside the UK, with a quarter from the Far East and twenty per cent from the Middle East. After all, if the mountain – or gold bullion in the sky, as London’s mayor Boris Johnson calls it – will come to you...
Hyde Park Interior
Peter Wood, Managing Director of John D Wood & Co., advises looking into service costs before signing on such schemes: “Owners of flats and apartments in blocks have to pay an annual service and maintenance charge to cover the communal cost of building maintenance.... When looking at investing in an apartment it is best to find out the cost of the service charge and whether the building has a Sinking Fund to cover the cost of major building maintenance.”
“The majority of period properties in Prime Central London are either in conservation areas and, if of architectural interest, listed. It is not possible to make any external structural changes without planning permission from the local council. There is greater scope to make internal changes to a property if it is Grade II than if it is Grade II* or Grade I listed.”
Heiwa Kingston Vale
That said, work on London’s most expensive private residence is well under way: three Grade I listed townhouses at the beginning of Cornwall Terrace overlooking Regent’s Park incorporating a spa, heated swimming pool, beauty salon, children’s floor, fumoir and staff wing. It was acquired for the Qatari royal family in 2010, and is expected to be valued at £200 million upon completion. The family also own half of One Hyde Park, where last January the most expensive one bedroom flat in London – priced at £9.9 million – was put up for sale. Where the prices are headed are anyone’s guess, but what is certain is that the capital attraction of London never seems to depreciate.