By Liz Rowlinson
Kristin Young has just moved from Seattle to London for her job in tech. The 26-year-old American and her partner, Will, will be renting a one-bedroom apartment at The Marlo, a new purpose-built rentals scheme in Marylebone, a wealthy part of central London to the south of Regent’s Park and north of Mayfair.
“Not knowing London, we looked into places popular with other expats such as Chelsea and South Kensington, but Marylebone was the right fit for us,” she says. “With its great restaurants and cute, independent shops, it feels more like a neighbourhood.”
Marylebone may be highly prized for its high-end “village” feel, but the lockdowns of the pandemic have been extremely tough for the businesses along Marylebone Lane and Marylebone High Street that have become the area’s “shopfront”, says Julian Best, executive property director of the Howard de Walden Estate, the landowner: “We reduced retail and residential rents to support tenants.”
Private landlords were forced to slash asking prices: last autumn, some flats and houses in the area were being advertised with 25 per cent discounts in a bid to appeal to tenants.
A year on, an increasing number of people are returning to the office, along with wealthy international students and renters such as Young. Rental prices are being pushed up again.
From January to September this year, the number of new lets in Marylebone was up 11 per cent on the same period of 2019, with the number of properties on the market to let down by 36 per cent — slightly more than the 31 per cent across prime London, according to LonRes, which tracks the sector.
Rates are not yet at the level that they were pre-pandemic. The average price per sq ft per year being paid on a flat (flats currently account for 94 per cent of the market in Marylebone) is £46, still 10 per cent below the £51 recorded in the third quarter of 2019.
Almost anything between £700 and £1,000 a week — the average rental price of a two-bedroom flat in Marylebone — is getting snapped up, says David Ornsby, head of lettings at Carter Jonas. “One in a period building off Marylebone High Street went on the market at 11am on a Friday this month at £775 per week and by 3pm we had 11 offers. It went for £950 a week to two Kuwaiti students at UCL who paid 12 months’ [rent] upfront,” he says. At The Marlo, one-bedroom flats with a shared garden start at £785 a week.
At the end of August, the lowest two floors of a six-storey Georgian terraced townhouse — a 3,570 sq ft four-bedroom duplex — received six offers. The luxury property, which had an initial asking price of £5,000 a week, eventually went to Mark Shipman, who beat American and French bidders after selling his five-storey family home in St John’s Wood.
“I’ve always liked the idea of having everything on my doorstep,” he says. “We’ve been to the theatre half a dozen times, I hop on the Brompton bike to work — the car hasn’t been used for a month.” His three daughters attend the local independent day school Queen’s College. The family are now looking to buy a property nearby.
Francesca Fox, lettings manager at agent Beauchamp Estates, says the Shipmans are not the only ones “trying before they buy”. But there has been less activity in the sales market this year than the rentals market. The average price of flats sold in Marylebone this year has been £1.45m, down from £1.5m in 2019; the average price of a house has been £3.6m, down from £3.84m in 2019. While they make up only a small proportion of properties in the area, houses are taking an average of 237 days to sell, if they sell.
“You’ve got to really love Marylebone to buy a house there,” says Camilla Dell of Black Brick, a buying agency. “If you want a garden and off-street parking, Holland Park, Notting Hill and St John’s Wood are better bets.” Houses can take years to sell; five sold in the past 18 months through agent Knight Frank. “It’s been a largely domestic market but the area’s new-build schemes are selling, albeit slower than before [the pandemic],” says Christian Lock-Necrews of the agency. These schemes include Harcourt House in Cavendish Square, Regent’s Crescent and The Park Crescent. Opening its show apartment last week was The Bryanston, on the north-east corner of Hyde Park — its 54 apartments are priced from £2.4m.
While prices in Marylebone are high, they are still typically 20 per cent less than next-door Mayfair, says Dell, although the gap is narrowing for the area’s super-prime, new-build apartments. “New-build in Marylebone now trades at well over £3,000 a square foot,” she says. This includes Marylebone Square, with its 54 apartments on Marylebone Lane due to complete in 2023, from £2.55m. So far, 22 of them are sold, the developer says.
The price of flats has been falling recently, however. Per square foot, the average price of a flat sold this year has fallen 15 per cent year-on-year, to £1,380, according to LonRes — good news for tenants testing the water with a view to buying in Marylebone.
- Marylebone is between Baker Street (Jubilee/Bakerloo line) and Bond Street (Jubilee and Elizabeth Line) Underground stations, with its mainline station the southern terminus of the Chiltern line towards Oxfordshire. By May 2023 (the full opening of Crossrail), Bond Street to Heathrow airport will take 34 minutes.
- The average discount off initial asking price on rentals was 4.1 per cent in Q3 2021, down from 14 per cent in Q3 2020, according to LonRes.
- New businesses in Marylebone include an Ottolenghi deli and space for fashion brands RIXO, Fursac, Wyse and Mejuri; Australian eatery Granger & Co and Italian deli Lina Stores are on their way.