March 2014

Spring bounce? London property market already in bloom

Spring is considered by many as peak season for transaction levels in the UK residential property market. Better weather and the prospect of exchange and completion before the main UK summer break are the major factors in this recurring trend. But while the prospect of a so-called ‘Spring bounce’ may hold true for the wider homes market in the UK, in prime London such seasonality barely registers.

As our own record start to the year testifies despite the wettest January on record, vendors have no need to try and ‘time’ the market when demand remains so consistently strong and the factors supporting demand appear so entrenched.

Emerging market wealth creation, the UK’s attractive corporate tax regime, London’s well-established international business community and prestigious schools have all played a part in attracting owner-occupiers and investors to our capital’s bricks and mortar and continue to do so.

Meanwhile, concerns about the sustainability of economic growth in a number of emerging market economies including China is leading to heightened volatility in developing world currency, equity and bond markets. Political unrest in the Ukraine and Turkey demonstrate that geopolitical risks are still an issue. Against this backdrop, the case for prime Central London (PCL) property as a safe-haven asset appears as strong as ever.

Latest statistics show 23 buyers for every seller in London

The imbalance between this demand and limited supply is resulting in further price rises across Central London. According to London agent Marsh & Parsons (M&P) over a third of properties new to the market in 2014 have been sold within just two weeks. With 23 buyers to every seller on its books, M&P’s numbers tell a simple but powerful story about the extent of the demand/supply forces currently at work in PCL property.

At Black Brick our own recent statistics provide further details to these themes. Over the last three months we have received client enquiries from some 73 prospective buyers hailing from 25 separate countries spanning the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle-East, Europe and Asia. These figures once again underline both the sustained strength and geographic diversity of international demand for prime Central London property.

A feature of the market we have touched on in recent newsletters is the rising proportion of domestic buyers within these numbers. In part we believe this reflects an improving UK economy, but many of our domestic clients are simply frustrated by the stress and struggle involved in finding a family home in London at and just below £3m. Most readily admit that they have been trying – and failing – to secure a property in this fiercely contested market segment for some time before concluding that our services represent money very well spent given the many advantages we offer to buyers.

Among that diverse new client base we are currently serving buyers with budgets covering ranging from £500,000 all the way up to £50 million. Due to the size of the Black Brick team and the breadth of our expertise in London we are able to cover a larger range of price segments than some of our smaller competitors. We are also helping a growing number of clients with property searches outside of London, mainly focusing on the Home Counties.

Buying or selling: good advice can save you money

Sealed bids are a part of life in the London property market. It’s an often brutal, high stakes crescendo to the buying process that plays on buyers’ fears of missing out on the home of their dreams. But how can you be confident that you’re not overpaying, potentially significantly, when the pressure is so high and deep-rooted emotions are involved? What are the factors differentiating the value of one property from its apparently identical neighbour? In a fast moving and highly specialised market knowing what the ‘right’ price is for a given property really only comes from deep experience and specialist knowledge.

That’s where Black Brick can help. Our expertise means we are extremely close to the market and its subtle nuances. We know the ‘right’ price – and therefore the wrong price – for homes and investment properties across the capital and take the stress and emotion out of the sealed bid process on our clients’ behalf.

Market knowledge is important when selling too. The British press has recently covered the story of an elderly man who nearly sold his St John’s Wood home to an unscrupulous estate agent at a 40% discount to market value. Only a last minute intervention from concerned neighbours prevented the sale from proceeding. Although clearly an extreme example, the story highlights the problem in knowing what the right price is for your property when you have made the important decision to sell. Our managed sale service takes both the stress and risk out of selling by appointing the right agent for your property and overseeing the whole process on your behalf.

Property acquisition of the Month

March’s Property of the Month is an immaculately presented four bedroom maisonette in Notting Hill. This stunning property offers large room sizes, a discrete patio garden and direct access to the residents-only private gardens. Portobello Road antiques market is a short walk away, as are the many high quality restaurants of Holland Park.

In this exclusive area of London, the property stock is largely four floor houses, but through personal contacts we were able to source this rare maisonette in arguably the area’s best street in the last few weeks of last year.

The run up to Christmas is, understandably, often a quiet period for transactions. But at Black Brick we’re always going the extra mile for our clients. Indeed the vendor’s agent in this instance had actually already shut for the Christmas holiday when we put forward a bid in excess of £7m on behalf of our American family client on Christmas Eve. The bid was accepted later that day and we subsequently exchanged in mid-February.

Given the extremely strong start to the year we have witnessed, we have little doubt that there would have been significantly more competition for the property now than was the case in the run up to Christmas.

Black Brick’s Black Book

Finding and securing a property is just one part of the service that many of our clients receive from us. With an extensive contact book of the capital’s best and brightest, we can assist and connect our clients with professional services including tax advisors, lawyers, accountants, surveyors and interior designers. School searches are also a popular service for families relocating to London, while for those fortunate enough to have shooting lodges we are also well versed in London’s finest gun and rifle makers.

Why don’t you put our Black Book to the test? Call us on +44(0)20 3141 9861 or email

Black Brick in Hong Kong and Singapore

Black Brick Partner Caspar Harvard-Walls is in Hong Kong March 19th to 21st and in Singapore a few days later on March 24th and 25th March. This is a great opportunity to meet in person and to discuss face-to-face market dynamics and how we can help you fulfil your property ambitions. Please contact us if you would like to meet with Caspar on +44(0)20 3141 9861 or email

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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We come highly recommended.