How the Best in Class Ignite a Bidding War

The property, a detached villa in Holland Park, went on the market at around £13 million. That valued the unmodernised property at around £2,500/square foot – a respectable price for a house in a desirable area, backing onto attractive communal gardens.

A short bidding war and a round of sealed bids later, it sold for above £18 million, or some £3,500/square foot – if not a record for the area, then not far off.

This didn’t take place at the top of the market in 2014, but last month – in a prime property market down, on average, 15% from its peak, and where estate agents and property analysts are complaining of weak sentiment and low transaction volumes.

“It’s an incredibly polarised market at the moment,” says Caspar Harvard-Walls, a Partner at Black Brick. “For really high quality, best in class properties, there is serious competition out there, partly because there are so few of them on the market. As with the Holland Park property, we’re seeing them change hands at record prices.

“Lower quality properties, on the other hand, aren’t moving and, in fact, many aren’t coming to the market at all. If vendors don’t need to sell, they’re renting them out instead.”

This poses particular challenges for buyers, Harvard-Walls continues. “It is very hard to work out where value is. Getting a sense of when a property is going to go off like a rocket is extremely difficult in this market. Pricing is all over the place.”

And those properties that do see intense competition pose their own set of challenges for buyers. “It’s very important that, when buyers get into a competitive bidding situation, they act rationally and calmly. It’s very easy to get massively carried away, and overpay for a property.

“What’s needed in the current market is deep knowledge, a laser focus on value, and a cool head,” he adds.