Will it be a £66m penthouse or a two-bed home on a remote Greek island? Experts predict what the ultra rich will be investing in for 2021
By Zoe Dare Hall
After a tumultuous year, what lies in store for London’s prime property market in 2021? And where will the wealthy be looking to invest? The experts share their knowledge.
For many City workers no longer needed at their desks, 2020 was about an escape to the country. 2021 will see the reverse, thinks Camilla Dell, managing partner at Black Brick buying agency. “Half of them stayed commutable in the Home Counties. The other half moved to Somerset, which is risky if you are suddenly called back to your desk at 8am tomorrow,” says Dell.
Most didn’t sell up in London, though; they just bought the country house too – which is just as well because in 2021, “the masses will flood back to the city,” Dell adds.
Post-Covid – or, at least, post-vaccine – London will also see the return of overseas buyers. For UK buyers with serious money, their absence currently opens up opportunities in prime central areas such as Mayfair and Belgravia. “Apartment prices in central London’s golden postcodes have fallen by 8.2% in five years and houses are down by 1%. There are no viewings taking place and none of the usual audience is here. But by next summer, it will be more competitive again,” says Dell.
Some foreign buyers will feel compelled to tie up purchases before that, though, as April sees the introduction of an extra 2% stamp duty for non-UK residents. “We currently have two overseas UHNW buyers who are unwilling to travel at the moment. One has a budget of £40m-£60m for a family house, so will save at least £1m if he buys before April,” says Marc Schneiderman, Director at Arlington Residential in St John’s Wood.
Wealthy UK-based buyers are keeping the super-prime market ticking over nicely until foreign buyers can travel again, though. “Despite the vaccine, expect more house moves, upgrades and a continued search for space in 2021,” says Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank. “London is seeing a surge in demand for larger houses. The £10m+ market is very strong and this strength will continue into 2021.”
End-user buyers will be looking for areas with easy access for weekend escape – given many have invested in holiday homes in England instead of abroad this year. That trend is already in evidence Television Centre in White City, where a number of owners flee to their Cotswolds homes every Friday. Flats in the latest Architects Series cost from £3.4m through Savills.
East London is also “one to watch”, says Camilla Dell – and handy for a weekend home on the Suffolk coast. “People who wanted to live in leafy parts of north London – especially those working in the media or tech – now prefer to be East,” says Dells. Long & Waterson in Shoreditch – with apartments from £715,000-£2.16m through Savills – is just the kind of new development they’ll like, she thinks.
Ultra-prime London launches
London has its fair share of landmark schemes launching, or completing, in 2021 – and views over Hyde Park are a common theme.
Mayfair Park Residences sees the world’s first Dorchester Collection homes, with Clivedale’s scheme of 25 apartments and townhouses on Park Lane – priced from £4.25m – overlooking Hyde Park. They have access to the adjacent Dorchester hotel’s services, whether it’s 2am mojitos delivered to your door, use of the 10,000 sq ft health club, or dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s first European restaurant, CUT.
On the park’s Bayswater side, Fenton Whelon’s Park Modern sees 57 new one-to-six bedroom residences overlooking the park and Kensington Palace Gardens. Prices start at £1.95m through Knight Frank.
And in late Spring, expect completion of the £66m penthouse at The Bryanston, Almacantar’s new super-prime parkside scheme in Marble Arch. Other apartments in the high-rise designed by Rafael Viñoly start at £2.6m.
Among the historic landmarks undergoing transformation is The OWO, formerly known as The Old War Office, which will be home to London’s first Raffles hotel and 85 Raffles-branded residences. No prices have been released yet, but with its historical pedigree, prime St James’s location and kudos of being Raffles’ first ever branded scheme, these will be properties to watch.
The Herculean task of reinventing Battersea Power Station reaches a pivotal point in Spring 2021, as it’s when the first residents will move into the reinvented Grade II* listed Power Station. The development also sees the opening of the new Northern Line tube station in Autumn.
Brand new but inspired by the Georgian proportions of Thomas Cubbit’s historic Belgravia homes that surround it, Qatari Diar’s Chelsea Barracks launches its townhouse collection, with the six-storey properties priced from £38m. Each house features a swimming pool that runs under the entire length of the garden, and some have their own mews house.
In early 2020, ski resorts were considered Ground Zero for Covid in Europe, but in 2021 they will be among the hottest places to invest. What we buy – and how we use it – is changing, though.
While old-style après-ski is out of the question because of the virus, buyers want to bring the party back home, so large private chalets are in hot demand, “especially those with five-star entertaining areas and wellness facilities,” says Giles Gale, founding director at Alpine Property Finders. With the catered chalet model also largely impossible, and the communal aspect of hotels out of favour, in-chalet/apartment hotel services are on the rise, says Gale. He suggests Manali Lodge in Courchevel 1650, a new luxury apart-hotel residence, where three-bed apartments cost from €2.02m.
Ski properties aren’t just for Christmas any more, either. Month-long or even entire-season stays will become more popular next year, with work-from-home culture rife among wealthy digital nomads on the slopes, says Jeremy Rollason, head of Savills Ski. Many will seek a large, lateral rental apartment first, so they can try before they buy.
Buyers shouldn’t expect many bargains in the leading resorts, though. “Covid has increased our appreciation for the natural environment and prices in the top 10 resorts have increased by an average of 7.2% this year, despite the pandemic,” says Rollason. Courchevel 1850 tops the prime price league at €25,000/m2 – making it 60% more expensive than prime Paris.
For price growth and new development opportunities, Knight Frank tip the French Alpine resort of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville in 2021, overtaking last year’s winner, Val d’Isere. The small Swiss resorts of Grimentz and Champery will also be in demand, says Knight Frank’s head of Swiss Alpine sales, Alex Koch de Gooreynd. “International buyers are looking at Switzerland as a permanent base because of its handling of the crisis and the lifestyle it offers. The appeal of owning a Swiss property is now strengthening too with interest rates negative and Swiss banks effectively charging clients to store their capital,” he says.
Hotspots for sun, sand and sea lovers
Marbella is ensuring it looms large on the super-rich radar in 2021 with the launch of Epic Marbella, Fendi Casa’s first ever European scheme of branded residences. The 56 apartments of up to 1,000m2, plus 400m2 terraces with private pools, cost from €2.5m-€7.5m and sit on a prime seaview spot on the Golden Mile, near Puerto Banus. There are Fendi touches throughout, from logoed wardrobe handles to rugs, and the five-star amenities include the biggest swimming pool in a European residential development, according to developer Carlos Rodriguez of Sierra Blanca Estates.
Barbados has also sealed its place in the spotlight in the coming year as the 2020 launch of its Barbados Welcome Stamp – a 12-month work visa, costing $2,000 per person and aimed at digital nomads – has proved a big PR coup for the island. So far, three quarters of international relocators are first-time visitors to the Caribbean island and aged under 45, according to Terra Caribbean.
For those seduced into buying, Apes Hill, under new ownership, re-opens in November after a £24m upgrade. It promises to be “the best golfing experience in the Caribbean” and include a new club house, a fitness and paddle sports centre, farm shop and three/four bed villas from £1.15m.
Greece is also garnering a reputation as a UHNW hotspot with such five-star branded schemes as Amanzoe – where two-bed villas cost from €3.2m and – launching in 2021, by the same developers, Dolphin Capital, in partnership with Kerzner International – the One&Only Resort on Kea Island, with turnkey two-bed homes from €3m. The Kilada Country Club, near Amazone in Porto Heli, is another Dolphin Capital resort on its way, with 260 golf residences set around a Jack Nicklaus course.
Greece also offers the most affordable Golden Visa programme in Europe – newly-relevant to British investors as we wave goodbye to the EU.