30 August 2016, International Business Times
Apartment C.08.1 in London’s luxury One Hyde Park development by Candy & Candy – the most valuable block of flats in the world – came with a price tag of almost £63m ($83m), making it the most expensive home on the open market in the UK.
But it has just been removed from sale for the fourth time in four years, apparently still unsold, as the super-prime property market feels the heat from a number of tax increases by the Treasury.
Sprawling for nearly 9,000 square foot across a whole floor of the building, Apartment C.08.1 has views over Hyde Park, all the highest quality fixtures, fittings and finishing, high-tech gadgets, a concierge service provided by The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a gym, swimming pool and spa, opulent bespoke interior design by Candy & Candy, and much more.
The current owner, thought to be the used-car magnate Geoffrey Michael Warren, has tried to sell it at least four times since 2012, slashing the price tag by £2m along the way.
The property’s agent at Savills in Knightsbridge was contacted for comment on 22 August, while the apartment was still listed as for sale, but did not reply. However, in the 24 hours between the approach for comment and the publication of this article, the property was again removed from the market. The listing has not, as is common when a sale is agreed but the paperwork incomplete, been updated to mark the property as “sold subject to contract” or “under offer”.
“I’m afraid we are not able to help,” said a spokeswoman for Savills when asked if the property had now sold. Warren, 61, was approached for comment via his company Cargiant, but no reply was received.
“I think the super-prime end of the market has been going down in terms of values for almost two years,” said Caspar Harvard-Walls, a partner at the buying agent Black Brick. “A lot of people are laying the blame at Brexit’s door, but really the market had shifted before that.”
It is a series of tax hikes on high-end and investment property – such as higher stamp duty for expensive and second homes, the introduction of capital gains tax for foreign investors, and an annual levy on homes owned by offshore structures – which are the biggest drag on demand.
Moreover, a glut in the supply of luxury newbuild property in London makes One Hyde Park less unique that it once was. “All of those things have had a big impact on that end of the market,” Harvard-Walls said. “As a result, you probably will see some of these properties hanging around for much longer than they would have done a few years ago.”
The market for super-prime properties is tiny: there have been just three sales of properties in England and Wales worth over £20m in 2016 so far, show Land Registry figures. Between 2011 and today, there have been 36 such sales. By comparison, in the year to date there have been 350,252 home sales in total in England and Wales.
Finding the bite mark
Apartment C.08.1 was first put up for sale by the current owner through the agent Aylesford International in May 2012 with a price tag of £65m, but later removed from the market, despite some high-profile media coverage on MailOnline and Forbes.
The apartment reappeared on the market in May 2014, this time listed by Savills and for a price tag of £68m. Again, it was removed from the market — only to pop back up a year later in June 2015, listed at £75m and including a promise to pay the buyer’s potential £9m stamp duty bill after a tax hike by the then-chancellor George Osborne.
Having been removed from the market again, it was in April 2016 relisted by Savills for one pound shy of £63m – 3% lower than its 2012 asking price, 7% below is 2014 price, and 16% below the 2015 price including stamp duty. The promise to pay the buyer’s stamp duty has since vanished – and so has the latest advert.
“Values have come down and transactions have fallen so therefore sellers are having to be more realistic,” Harvard-Walls said. “These things are rare. That’s why they’re very, very hard to value.”
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