December 2023

The number of homes bought and sold in London slowed down this year, but Black Brick was kept busy with a stream of buyers with very different requirements, from family homes to glamorous modern apartments.

By the end of November, the number of homes we have successfully bought for clients was almost 15 per cent higher than for the whole of 2022.

And these are our deals of the year:

Best Off Market Deal – York House, Kensington

A very significant proportion of London property never reaches the property portals, and is quietly, privately sold off market. It is nigh on impossible for an individual buyer to know exactly what their options are without professional help.

“I would say that almost all £5m-plus homes start off being sold off market,” said Dell. “And around half of all homes priced at below £5m. Even in the time it takes to get a property on the market – to do pictures and draw up floorplans – a good buying agent will already have been in the door.”

In this case our European buyers wanted a lateral PCL apartment with period features and good views, and had spent several months soldiering on alone before giving up and hiring Black Brick to help. “By the time they came to us they were feeling pretty fed up with the process,” said Dell.

We were told about this property before it came onto the market, and were able to show it to our clients during our first property tour. “We got in nice and early,” said Dell.

One issue was that the flat was run down and needed refurbishment. Happily, they were keen to put their own stamp on their London home. And to make sure they fully understood the implications we introduced them to a design and construction firm who gave them a clear idea of how much it would cost to make the changes they wanted, and how long it would take.

Armed with this information they decided to go ahead and we agreed the purchase at £9.5m for the apartment in September.

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Best Pied-A-Terre – Cheniston Gardens, Kensington

Our Australian clients were fans of British architecture and wanted a two-bedroom apartment in a period building, with high ceilings and lots of light. The building needed to be secure, the flat needed to be already in good condition, close to parks, and in a really good prime central London (PCL) address.

With our clients based on the other side of the world we drew up a shortlist of really top notch options for them to view during a whistlestop trip to London. And this beautiful property, between Kensington Gardens and Holland Park, ticked all their boxes.

Other buyers were interested in the property too and although our bid of £1.7m (against an asking price of £1.695m) was not the highest offer on the table we kept our cool. And when the top bidder dropped out our client got the flat.

“In a competitive situation we always advise our clients to bid the most they are prepared to pay for a property,” said Camilla Dell, managing partner at Black Brick.

“That way they don’t feel they have overpaid but they aren’t disappointed if they don’t get it, because they have put their best foot forward,”

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 Best Family Home (Outer London) – Southway, Hampstead Garden Suburb

North London is a magnet for families because of its combination of plentiful open space and great schools. Our British-based clients’ daughters attended Channing School in Highgate and they were renting a flat nearby.

They wanted to upsize to a four-bedroom house within a 20-minute drive of the school but had quickly realised that the market for family homes in their chosen area is cut-throat. They came to Black Brick feeling bruised and disappointed after losing out on a property being sold in a competitive bids scenario.

Again, we were able to let our clients know about this house before it officially went on sale. Despite our running start two other buyers were also interested. Our advice was that our clients make their best possible offer to secure it. They were thrilled when their offer of £2.895m was accepted.

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Best Block Investment Deal – Ashburn Place, South Kensington

While many of Black Brick’s clients are looking for private homes, we also assist investors looking for rental properties.

And, while interest rate rises plus a series of regulatory changes have driven many small-time buy to let landlords out of the market, the benefits for those considering a larger-scale investment remain compelling.

This client wanted a residential property investment in PCL which would offer long term capital growth. He also wanted a neighbourhood with strong rental demand.

With little time to research the nuance’s of London’s property market he hired Black Brick and we steered him towards South Kensington where rental demand from corporate tenants and students at nearby Imperial College far exceeds supply.

We recommended he buy a building divided into six apartments. By owning the entire freehold building he would have complete control over running costs. And because of its scale the purchase qualified as a commercial investment, with meaningful significant savings.

The property was – again – being sold off market and after long negotiations with the owners we bought it for £6.155m, a discount of just over 12 per cent off the asking price.

“Once you get some scale to the investment then you get the same benefits buy to let landlords used to – mortgage payments are a tax-deductible expense, lower tax rates, and lower capital gains tax,” said Dell.

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Best Prime London Family Home – Burnsall Street, Chelsea

Our French clients were looking to upsize in another competitive market – Chelsea. They were looking for lateral living space, whether in a house or an apartment, and we suggested they try the up and coming enclave of Chelsea Green.

This area has seen a flurry of recent openings of cafes, restaurants, and shops, and has become increasingly popular as a result.

We helped our clients select a double fronted house in a great location. With another bidder in the frame we suggested they offer fractionally above the £6.28m asking price to secure the property. Their offer of £6.3m – or £2,136 per square foot – was accepted. A month previously a nearby home had been sold for £2,600 per square foot.

When deciding where a client should pitch their offer Black Brick carries out a forensic examination of comparative local sales, weighing up their pros and cons compared with the property we are going to be bidding on.

But data is only part of the story.

“You can number crunch all day long,” said Dell. “You also have to consider the clients’ circumstances – are they looking for a family home? And is the property itself unusual, because nobody wants to wait years for something else to come up again.”

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Best New Build – Capella, King’s Cross

The inspirational regeneration of King’s Cross, with its combination of new homes plus a carefully curated mix of shops, amenities, bars, and restaurants, has been a huge success. A neighbourhood buyer would have avoided like the plague not so long ago is now a bone fide hotspot.

Our Swiss clients were looking for a home for their son, who was living and working in London. Priorities included good local transport to links, plenty to do on the doorstep, and with investment potential in the long term.

Capella is the last new apartment building planned for the 67-acre King’s Cross regeneration zone and the high quality of this environment means its value is likely to appreciate.

We isolated the best apartment in the building – a duplex on the 12th and 13th floor with a large terrace and exceptional views.

It was on sale for £2.6m (or £2,127 per square foot) but we negotiated this down to £2.4m (or £1,963 per square foot), representing a discount of almost eight per cent.

The regeneration of King’s Cross is now all-but complete, and its success is based on its clever mix of high-end residential property and well-curated shops and restaurants.

Buyers who are looking to get in on the ground floor of another regeneration scheme over the next few years will have plenty of choice, from the 4,500-home redevelopment of Earl’s Court, to the almost 4,000 new homes planned at Canada Water.

Both have great potential, but Dell warns off-plan buyers not to have their heads turned by glossy pictures and lavish show apartments.

What King’s Cross has proven is that regeneration schemes are about far more than housing. “You need to look at the wider public realm,” she said. “At King’s Cross you also had the redeveloped station, many corporate offices, amazing architecture, and places to eat, drink, and shop. It has been very, very well curated.”

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Biggest Discount of the Year – Montagu Court, Marylebone

Buying a property in London can be a test of nerve – and patience.

We had helped our US client rent a home when he first came to London. When he wanted to put down roots, he came back to us to help him buy a two-bedroom flat close to his Baker Street office.

We sourced a three-bedroom lateral flat in a small but well-run mansion block on Montagu Square, one of this neighbourhood’s only garden squares, and suggested a bid of £1.7m, £295,000 less than the original asking price.

“We made the bid and let it sit there,” said Dell. “It sometimes takes sellers a long time to get to grips with the realities of the market. Months later the agent called me and accepted the offer.”

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Prime Flat Deal of the Year – Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge

All buyers have wish lists. Some are more challenging than others.

This particular client wanted a two-bedroom, two bathroom, square on a garden square in Mayfair, Belgravia, or Knightsbridge only.

The property had to be in a building which allowed pets, since our client intended to live there with her dog.

We found a well-presented lateral flat on – arguably – London’s best square. And the property was being sold on a share of freehold basis, a rare find in central London.

Our client was based in Singapore which made viewings tricky. She was convinced to buy the property after we took her on a video tour instead. She also took our advice on how much to bid and beat the opposition with a bid of £4.55m.

“Even in a challenging market there is still demand for really good, best in class property like this,” said Dell.

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City Pad of the Year – Triptych Bankside

Many of our clients are focussed on buying in PCL but this buyer was flexible on location so long as the property was in good condition, and in a lively central London neighbourhood.

This brief led us south of the river, to Bankside.

Investment has been flooding into this area over the past few years – including a new station and an increasingly impressive range of shops and restaurants. It was recently announced as the future location for a Mandarin Oriental hotel and residences.

The award-winning Triptych Bankside is not only an architectural statement but extremely well located, within a few minutes’ walk of the River Thames, and the Tate Modern. We found our buyer the very best unit for their budget, and they paid £2.55m for the three-bedroom flat.

Picking the perfect apartment from floor plans is a fine art. Dell and her team look at everything from the quality of the views, to whether a property will get afternoon sunshine. They analyse the different layouts to find the one which best fits the client’s lifestyle, and can offer insider advice like avoiding flats close to lifts which can be noisier than those a few steps away.

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Managed Sale of the Year – Queensberry Mews West, South Kensington

Black Brick is known for helping buyers find their perfect homes.

But we also help owners sell their properties.

We had helped our Irish clients buy this three-bedroom property several years ago. When ill health made travelling back and forth become more difficult, they decided to sell and asked us to help them find a buyer.

We gave our clients advice on how to improve the property’s first impressions and get beautiful pictures taken. We then – discreetly – put the feelers out and found a cash buyer willing to pay £3.45m.

Not only was this more than our clients had paid back in 2019, but the deal went through in just four weeks.

“These clients came back to us because we had built up a good relationship with them,” said Dell. “At a bigger estate agent, you may be dealt with by a whole range of negotiators, of different levels of seniority. We offer continuity.”

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International Deal of the Year – Champ de Mars, Paris

American buyers have had a long love affair with the French capital, and the strength of the dollar has made an investment in Paris more inviting over the past few years.

Although Black Brick is London-based we recognise that our buyers often own properties around the world. Because of that we have forged a network of trusted associate firms in key global cities who can help clients buy anywhere from Dubai to Miami.

In this case an American couple came to us seeking a Paris apartment. We introduced them to a member of our global network in the city who helped them find and secure a stunning period apartment in a historic building close to the Eiffel Tower.

The property was listed for €3.8m but, after negotiations, our clients secured it for €3.55m. And the service doesn’t stop there. The apartment required modernisation and our associate is helping them put together the right team to carry out the work.

“Part of the thinking behind evolving an international offering is to make sure that our clients can find a trusted advisor, whether they want to buy in Paris, Dubai, New York, or London,” said Dell. “Each market has got its own set of nuances and ways of working.”

View case study


Finding Perfect Property

In our 14th episode, host Camilla Dell chats to Charlie Taylor, Chief Operating Officer at Knight Protection, specialists in protecting Private Clients in their homes, their place of work and while travelling. They are recognised as being among the top 5% of security firms in the UK and operate at the very highest level — from the qualifications of their officers and the stringent vetting that ensures that the best staff are deployed, to the latest technology-based security solutions. In a world where private clients are more security conscious than ever before, this episode is packed with useful information on how to secure your home, now and in the future.


News in Brief

Black Brick has been shortlisted as property advisor of the year in the Citywealth Magic Circle Awards 2024. The magazine’s awards, which will be announced in May, reward outstanding achievements in fields including property, law, tax, and investment. We would be delighted if you could consider voting for us here. An account registration might be needed, this takes less than a minute to setup.

With the nights drawing in, and with many people planning trips over the festive season, making sure your home is as secure as possible is particularly important at this time of year. Which is why Black Brick invited Charlie Taylor, chief operating officer at Knight Protection, to appear on the latest episode of our podcast, Finding Perfect Property. You can find out more about how to keep your home safe when the podcast goes live.

Security isn’t the only issue homeowners face in winter, the season of boiler breakdowns, leaking pipes, and overflowing gutters.

Black Brick recognises that many people need to leave their London homes unattended for regular periods of time, and rental properties are sometimes empty, and we have developed a vacant care service to give these owners complete peace of mind.

We visit weekly to make sure our clients’ homes are safe, offer an alarm response and key holding service, and will resolve any problems that come up. We can even arrange to have a property cleaned, its fridge stocked, and flowers in place ready for its owners to walk in and get on with their London visit.

For more information about Black Brick’s vacant care service, contact Sophie Amasha.

Finally, we would like to thank all our clients and professional network for trusting us to assist you with your property searches this year. We wish all our readers season’s greetings and best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy new year ahead.

We’re ready when you are


We’re ready when you are

We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your own property requirements. For a non-obligatory consultation, please contact us.

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