Last month’s Conservative party win was, as we discussed, undoubtedly the best possible general election outcome for prime property in the UK. But, for some vendors, the champagne has perhaps gone to their heads. Asking prices since the election have, in many cases, outpaced market fundamentals, reinforcing the importance to potential buyers of experienced representatives who can act on their behalf.
Certainly, the election result has given the market a fillip, having removed the threats of a mansion tax and a crackdown on non-doms. A number of consultants have responded by upgrading their market outlooks. Knight Frank, for example, has nudged its forecast for its Prime Central London price index to +1% for 2015, up from flat, while Strutt & Parker is now forecasting 3.5% growth, also up from 0% before the election.
But these same consultants warn of the pressures bearing on the market. Knight Frank points to global economic risks and uncertainty around the outcome of the UK’s planned referendum on EU membership, due by the end of 2017. It also says that the volume of new housing supply, especially new build, has the potential to weigh on London’s prime market.
Savills, too, notes that: “restored market confidence needs to be considered in light of where we were in the cycle prior to the period of pre-election uncertainty.” Prime London markets were looking “more fully priced” before the election than those outside central London. And the surge in sterling since the election – the pound rose 4.7% against the euro between 7 May and the end of the month – will bear down on affordability for overseas buyers.
These factors must be balanced against the understandable bullishness in the market. “Estate agents have a real battle on their hands to persuade vendors not to become greedy or unrealistic,” says Camilla Dell, Black Brick’s Managing Partner. “We will look at where the market is, and at comparable sales, and if we consider a property is over-valued, we simply won’t show it to our clients.
“It’s where we’re adding value in this market – by ensuring estate agents are keeping their clients in check, and by negotiating hard.”
Negotiating hard was the order of the day with this month’s property acquisition of the month – a pied a terre in central London. Our British clients were looking for a base from which to make the most of the capital’s shops, restaurants and theatres.
We identified a two-bed, two-bath, 1,130 square foot property in a new-build boutique development on Buckingham Street WC2 – a stone’s throw from London’s Theatreland. We have a good relationship with the developer, whose work we know and trust, and were able to secure an early viewing. Despite high demand for the development, we were also able to negotiate our clients a £100,000 discount on the £2.2 million asking price.
The sale last month of Picasso’s 1955 painting The Women of Algiers for £116 million prompted The Telegraph to reach for its calculator to see how the painting had performed as an investment. Since its last sale in 1997, for $31.9 million, it had made a 462% return.
That knocks most other investments into a cocked hat. The FTSE has only managed a pedestrian 45% over the same period, the average UK property has managed 205%, while gold has risen 286%. The only investment that came close was London prime real estate, which is up 407%.
Nice as a Picasso is to look at, we would always recommend investing in bricks and mortar. But we aim to offer our clients a fully rounded service. For those looking to decorate their properties with fine art, we have close relationships with a number of specialist art consultants.
We were thrilled to take home Best Property Adviser at the third edition of the Wealth Adviser Awards, presented on 15 May in London’s Mayfair, which brought together the leading names in the wealth management industry to celebrate the achievements of the best performing wealth managers and advisers in 2014.
The awards were determined by the votes of Wealth Adviser’s readers, who include wealth managers, IFAs, fund managers, family offices, law firms, accounting firms and other industry professionals. Please click here to read the Wealth Adviser special rewards report.