May­fair life­style moves out of reach

The Jewish Chronicle - - CLASSIFIED -

LON­DON’S HOUS­ING mar­ket could do a good im­pres­sion of Mark Twain. “The re­ports of my death have been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated,” would be its re­sponse — if it could talk — to re­cent head­lines promis­ing a prop­erty prices slump in the cap­i­tal. Lon­don is now the world’s most ex­pen­sive city to rent a five-star ho­tel room, luxury ser­viced flat or rental apart­ment ac­cord­ing to the find­ings of a new ac­com­mo­da­tion sur­vey. The cost of rent­ing a five-star ho­tel room in Lon­don now av­er­ages £497 per night, com­pared to £361 in Geneva, £283 in Los An­ge­les, £259 in Tokyo and £131 in New York.

Mean­while, rented apart­ment rates have risen by more than 25 per cent since 2009 — and in some cases much more. An £80,000 monthly rent was unusual five years ago. To­day, a fivebed­room pent­house in Knights­bridge com­mands a rent of £200,000 per month.

Th­ese are some of the find­ings of the new Sleep­ing in Lon­don re­port on the ho­tel, ser­viced apart­ment and pri­vate flat-rental mar­kets, un­der­taken by May­fair es­tate agent Wetherell, which claims this mar­ket is un­der­sup­plied. There are cur­rently fewer than a dozen branded res­i­dences across in­ner Lon­don. The most high-pro­file in­clude One Hyde Park (Man­darin Ori­en­tal), The Shard (Shangri-La), Mar­coni House (ME Ho­tels) on The Strand and The Res­i­dences at W Ho­tel (Star­wood Ho­tels) in Le­ices­ter Square.

Es­tate agent Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional says that house prices in Greater Lon­don will rise by 15.5 per cent in 2014 and three per cent in 2015. Across the South of Eng­land, it ex­pects prices to grow eight per cent this year and 6.5 per cent next year. Com­pare this to Hamp­tons’ pre­dic­tion of prices up 8.5 per cent this year and by 5.5 per cent in 2015.

It says that the pace of growth is be­gin­ning to soften, with events such as the elec­tion and pos­si­ble in­ter­e­strate rises likely to mean weaker price growth through­out 2015.

This ac­tiv­ity may have been hard on prop­erty buy­ers but it is good news for de­vel­op­ers. Hamp­tons’ new­est sub­sidiary, Stan­more-based Pre­ston Ben­nett, re­ports strong sales at a block of flats in Weald­stone, which it is mar­ket­ing for lo­cal de­vel­oper W.E. Black.

Launched last month, Ash­down Lodge has al­ready sold nearly 50 per cent of its apart­ments off-plan. Aimed at com­mut­ing pro­fes­sion­als, the devel­op­ment is a short walk from Har­row & Weald­stone tube and over­ground sta­tion. Prices at Ash­down Lodge start from £282,500.

De­spite the slow­down in price rises, there is still an up­ward trend. Fion­nu­ala Ear­ley, Hamp­tons’ direc­tor of res­i­den­tial re­search be­lieves that there will be fewer sales in the next 18 months com­pared to the past year and a half.

“The pace of in­crease seen ear­lier in the re­cov­ery is un­likely to con­tinue,” she says. “There are some com­pet­ing is­sues. As house-price ex­pec­ta­tions are moder­ate, the in­cen­tive to buy as quickly di­min­ishes, re­duc­ing the pace of growth in de­mand. How­ever, for those al­ready in the mar­ket who have been wait­ing for a peak in prices, there is now a greater in­cen­tive to sell.

“This should lead to an in­crease in stocks of ex­ist­ing prop­erty for sale, which should boost liq­uid­ity and the level of ac­tiv­ity. That switch has al­ready hap­pened in Lon­don, where stock lev­els are im­prov­ing as many choose to cash in and move to com­mutable ar­eas out­side the cap­i­tal.”

Per­haps it was head­lines an­nounc­ing real-es­tate price crashes in an Au­gust in the 1870s that in­spired Mark Twain to write in Rough­ing It: “Unas­sail­able cer­tainty is the thing that gives a news­pa­per the firmest and most valu­able rep­u­ta­tion.”

Ash­down Lodge, sell­ing fast to com­muters

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