Many of our readers will be all too glad to see the back of 2016, while others will be excited by the opportunities it has created. Whichever way you look at it, it’s certainly been eventful, including in the property market. Despite the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote, and slow market conditions, we have had a busy and successful year for our clients.
Since the start of the year, we have completed 39 deals, worth more than £130 million – that’s compared with £50 million in 2015. And the year’s not over yet: we’re confident we’ll significantly add to that total in December. We put this success down to diversifying our service offering to meet the needs of our clients – acting for sellers as well as buyers, and working with budgets ranging from £370,000 to £55 million.
This year, our clients have bought properties collectively worth more than £85 million, on which we’ve saved them more than £1.4 million against asking prices. Our managed sales services has sold nine properties, worth over £45 million, while our rental search has secured five tenancies, to a total value of £50,000 per month.
As we approach year-end, we thought we’d share some the transactions that we’re most proud of in 2016. On the buy side, our client’s purchase of an apartment in South Bank Tower was secured with a whopping 20% off the purchase price. Another client was delighted with our discovery of an attractive boutique development in the Villas, Maida Vale, as well as with the attractive discount we secured.
Our purchase of a Vicars Hill flat, for a first time buyer with a budget of below £400,000, shows our versatility. We managed complex lease negotiations on behalf of an Indian client for his Eaton House purchase, as well as helping to secure finance that addressed domestic remittance restrictions. And we were able to efficiently help our time-poor clients secure a fantastic penthouse apartment in York Road, Battersea.
It’s worth noting that our two largest deals by value were both conducted confidentially, so are not listed on our website. These were for a stand-out 20,000 sq. foot freehold home in Belgravia, for £55 million, and an apartment directly overlooking Regents Park, for £12 million.
In terms of managed sales, we were particularly proud, in a tough market for sellers, to achieve for this delightful Lansdowne Road apartment a record price per square foot for the street. And our unrivalled network meant we were able to source a buyer within four weeks for this fantastic Queens Gate Place apartment.
On the rental side, we were pleased to help a Russian client both find the perfect temporary rental, in Mount Street, and put him in touch with a furniture maker to furnish it for him. As is the case with many of our rental clients, he is now using our service to find a property to buy.
Another success in 2016 has been our vacant care service, which ensures that clients who are away from London can be reassured that their property is being well looked after in their absence. It’s a standalone service, regardless of whether we have sourced the property, which can save our clients a fortune by nipping maintenance issues in the bud, especially over the Christmas period.
So much for 2016 – what does 2017 hold? Since our last newsletter, when we reported on the first property price forecasts from agents and analysts, a number of other forecasts have been published. For the sake of completeness, we publish below our usual comparison table.
In the near term, the more recent forecasts (from Chestertons, Cluttons, Countrywide and Hamptons) share the view of those we covered last month that prices are likely to be flat or barely growing in PCL next year.
They are, however, more bullish on price rises in 2018. But even here, capital growth of 3-4% is modest by historical standards, and appears too predicated on some lifting of uncertainty around Brexit, given that negotiations should be well underway by that point. While price rises are on the horizon (most analysts are expecting larger price increases in 2019-20), we’re likely in for a tough year or so yet.
What a change a new Chancellor makes. Under George Osborne, the previous occupant of Number 11 Downing Street, each Budget and Autumn Statement would guarantee some kind of bombshell – usually negative for the property market – and would be chock full of tweaks and tinkering that would keep tax accountants and lawyers busy, but would leave the rest of us scrambling to keep up.
Phillip Hammond, in contrast, appears to be a steadier hand on the tiller. There were few surprises in his November 23 Autumn Statement, and certainly nothing to throw the London property market into disarray.
There were a handful of announcements aimed at the property sector more broadly. For example, the Chancellor proposed an end to letting fees charged by estate agents. These typically amount to a few hundred pounds and, while they may be material at the lower end of the market, the move is unlikely to have much effect on the prime rental sector.
Similarly, while we believe that £3.7 billion Hammond promised to address the UK’s housing shortage is a positive, the money will be largely targeted at affordable housing, and will therefore have little bearing on the prime market.
Some pundits in our sector are disappointed that the Chancellor did not offer any relief on Stamp Duty, which rose steeply under Osborne and has, without doubt, depressed activity on the higher end of the housing market. We always felt, however, that such a move was unlikely, given the pressure on public finances.
Overall, we are pleased that we have a Chancellor who appears to favour continuity over continual innovation – and we are glad that he has also decided to end the recent tradition in the UK of essentially presenting two budgets each year.
…Black Brick! We hope you’ll excuse the Spandau Ballet reference, but we were delighted to have won, for the third year running, the Gold Award for Best Buying Estate Agent, in The Times/Sunday Times Estate Agency of the Year Awards. And we received our award, at a glitzy event at the Hilton London Metropole, from none other than Martin Kemp, lead singer with the New Romantic legends.
The judges praised our team’s “eye for detail, which continues after the deal is done”, and noted that: “their experience and expertise has enabled them to work against the current difficult trend.” They added that “Black Brick prides itself on offering honest and forthright advice and it’s clear that this approach has cemented their position as market leader.”
As always, it’s wonderful to receive the recognition that such a prestigious award brings. Ultimately, however, it’s meeting the needs of our clients that is most important to us at Black Brick, and we look forward to continuing to do so in 2017. We would like to wish all our clients and introducers a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.
Black Brick wishes all of our clients a joyful festive season. We look forward to helping you achieve your property ambitions in 2017!