Listen carefully this month and you’ll hear the distinctive rattle of keys or the clipped sound of well-buffed shoes and stylish stilettos on the pavement as London’s high-end estate agents hit the streets after the summer lull.
Many wealthy vendors take their homes off the market in June, July and August before recommencing the hard sell in the autumn. The pause in proceedings means they can relaunch in a push to snare a buyer at the highest possible price before demand falls away again in mid-November.
To add to the flurry, September is the month that many owners test the market for their luxury homes for the first time.
But is there such a thing as value for money at this level, and who will snap up these multimillion-pound homes? Here’s our guide to buying in the luxury London market and what you can get both in and outside the capital, should your Lotto numbers come up.
The £1 million mark
What does a million get you in London these days?
This tends to be the price territory for affluent young families with two properties to sell – and even then it doesn’t go that far. In fact, the once-princely sum is now the average house price in 4,735 streets in the capital, according to the website Zoopla.
Stick to central London and £1 million will buy you an off-plan one-bedroom flat in the Nova complex in Victoria – near Buckingham Palace, but at 652 sq ft hardly palatial itself – or a one-bedroom flat in Sloane Gardens, Chelsea.
“Alternatively, it’ll fund you a short lease flat – something with just a few years left but that will cost another couple of million to extend,” says Jake Russell, co-director of Russell Simpson estate agents. Or it might see the beginnings of a two-bedroom flat in the less swish bits of Chelsea or South Kensington.
Head into the nappy valleys of zones two to four – the likes of Blackheath or Muswell Hill – and £1 million buys a three/four-bedroom Victorian terrace house with a small garden. In Wandsworth these days it gets you a two-bedroom riverside flat, which means couples with a toddler and a bump are heading into the hinterlands of Tooting, Teddington and Forest Hill.
And a surprising number of young buyers have a million to spend, with many financed by the “Bank of Mum and Dad”. “Some are couples selling two single properties to buy one bigger home and others are young tech whizzes who have made a fortune designing apps,” says Jo-Anne Neighbour from Savills Islington.
Meanwhile, go north and your pot of gold goes much further. In Dore, a village on the edge of the Peak District, south-west of Sheffield, Fine & Country are offering Monnybrook House, with six bedrooms and a swimming pool, for £1.15 million. Travel into Scotland and you can bag yourself an historic estate: Lowood House, just three miles to the east of Edinburgh, is on the market with Strutt & Parker for £1.06 million. The property comes with extensive grounds and several outbuildings.
Up to £3 million
This is the price bracket for family homes near Battersea Park and other desirably leafy London enclaves.
“Buyers at this level are looking for a ‘forever home’ with an easy commute to the City, space for a growing family and good schools,”
says Robin Chatwin, head of Savills in South West London
Think bi-folding doors and fancy basements. Marsh & Parsons have a five-bedder that fits the bill in Barnes Village for £2 million.
If you can stretch your budget to £3 million, you’ll move into large five/six-bedroom houses in the best bits of Wimbledon or Richmond or a four-bedroom period flat in South Kensington’s sought-after Cranley Gardens, through Marsh & Parsons.
Venture out into rural England and up to £3 million will bag a country pile, such as Peplow Hall, a Grade II listed 18th-century home in Shropshire: 11,600 sq ft, plus a coach house apartment and 65 acres of gardens with a swimming pool, tennis court and lake. Yours for £2.45 million through Savills.
Up to £5 million
“If you are shopping around £5m rich under-40s in the finance, property, oil and gas and tech sector”, says Charlie Bubear from Savills.
In Chelsea, there’s another group shopping for £5 million homes – newly-weds given extravagant houses as a wedding present from their parents.
“They want ‘turnkey’ properties with gadgets such as Lutron lighting, integrated sound systems and wine fridges,” says Bubear.
Ideal for them is the London Factory, a hi‑tech four-bedroom, 5,000 sq ft house in a converted factory in Bermondsey, on sale for £3.5 million through Savills and Sotheby’s.
Head to Notting Hill, Marylebone or Little Venice and you’ll be competing with American and European house-hunters wanting “3,500 sq ft and upwards”, says Jo Eccles, the director of the search company Sourcing Property. Qatari buyers are also prominent in this market, according to Rokstone Estates. “They want 24-hour porters and properties that are ready to move straight into,” says Rokstone’s director, Becky Fatemi.
For “growing London families looking to get more house and land for their buck”, Octagon has designed Burford Place in Picketts Hill, in Hampshire – an hour from Waterloo. The seven‑bedroom mansion of 7,700 sq ft is set in 5.5 acres and on sale for £4.75 million.
Up to £10 million
Welcome to the world of celebrity. Jamie Oliver has just splashed out on a Grade II listed 17th-century, eight‑bedroom house in Hampstead as a family home (as well as the £7 million one he owns down the road in Primrose Hill). Kate Moss and George Michael are just across the heath in Highgate.
There are 13 streets in London where £10 million is the average house price, a market that was, until recently, dominated by international buyers. But falling oil prices have knocked wealthy African buyers out of the market, according to Camilla Dell from the buying agency Black Brick, and the Chancellor’s overhaul of the stamp duty system has also deterred others.
On your viewing list for around £10 million would be a raft of elegant Knightsbridge town houses and newbuild designer penthouses in areas of London that would never have conceived of such budgets a decade ago.
You could buy the vast duplex three-bedroom penthouse at The Heron in the City, a three-bedroom flat at The Beecham in Covent Garden, or a six-bedroom detached house in St John’s Wood.
Head north and £10 million will buy you 2,200 acres of Northumberland countryside with a 12-bedroom house from GSC Grays or an 11‑bedroom mansion with 12 acres in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, through Jackson-Stops.
Up to £20 million
So, if £10 million buys you a huge house with bells and whistles in a prime location, what does £20 million get you? It’s simple, really: “More space and an even better location,” says Rokstone’s Becky Fatemi.
It’s the difference between Elystan Place – a five-bedroom 3,300 sq ft house “in the heart of Chelsea” and Chesham Place, a five‑bedroom 5,000 sq ft town house “in the heart of Belgravia”.
Westminster has joined the super‑luxury gang with four properties costing more than £20 million hitting the market simultaneously – a first for this central but undervalued area. Two of the properties are neighbours. Numbers 26 and 28 Old Queen Street are adjoining Grade II listed black brick Georgian town houses that have been given dramatic makeovers inside. Each covers more than 7,000 sq ft, on sale for £23 million through Hathaways.
This old establishment street in the heart of British politics attracts British wealth, but the historic area is starting to pique international interest.
Outside London, Kingstone Lisle Park, a 13-bedroom Georgian farmhouse with 257 acres in Oxfordshire, is on sale for £20 million through Knight Frank.
Up to £50 million
By the time you’re in the £50 million league, forget about looking in estate agents’ windows.
Only about 10 per cent of properties at this price level will be openly marketed, says Jonathan Hewlett, head of Savills London. This year, six of the big central London luxury house sales at £40 million or above have been to Qatari buyers – including a nine‑bedroom mansion on Mayfair’s Charles Street, with a private pool and cinema complex.
Currently on sale in Avenue Road, St John’s Wood, is a seven-bedroom, 11,000 sq ft “ambassadorial residence”, with indoor pool, leisure area and cinema, for £40 million (through Beauchamp Estates). But Kensington Palace Gardens is the country’s most expensive street – the average house price is £42.6 million, according to Zoopla.
Up to £100 million
There’s only one property in London that’s being advertised at anywhere near this price – a five-bedroom apartment in One Hyde Park offered for £75 million through Savills.
For that you get 9,000 sq ft of opulence in two wings linked by a 160ft hallway, a 24-hour service provided by the Mandarin Oriental hotel and views over Hyde Park.
Offer the guide price and they’ll even cover your stamp duty – which at nearly £12 million would be enough to buy you a six-bedroom Kensington town house.
“Clients with budgets of £100 million or more won’t touch anything that’s on-market. They don’t just want the ultimate in luxury, they want the ultimate in discretion,” says Nick Dawson of Garrington buying agents.
But don’t get carried away with the idea that it’s “money is no object”, even for those with the deepest pockets. “Most buyers with this kind of wealth are making hard-headed investment decisions about buying now while prices at the loftiest end of the market are slipping,” adds Dawson.