1. Avoid just buying a new door leaf. Two reasons - first, old properties will probably have twisted the old frame, so a square leaf will ... Read Feature
We’ve been investigating what makes a house appeal to a millionaire, and who’s buying what at the moment
Clapham Common Westside, SW4
Byrne Road, SW12
Routh Road, SW18
Source: Land Registry
Last year a house on Clapham Common sold for £9.25million. This made it the most expensive property to sell in the area in 2018. But what made it so special? The indoor swimming pool in the back garden definitely gave it the wow factor, not to mention the immaculate presentation of the property, with ornate period fireplaces and galleried hallways, panel flooring, sweeping staircase, far-reaching common views and a landscaped garden of mature plants. Eight bedrooms, four with en-suite bathrooms, a billiard room and wine cellar in the basement, plus a self-contained flat, all helped seal the multi-million-pound deal nicely.
If you’re reading this and feel like you’ve missed out, Rampton Baseley has a magnificent Grade II-listed Victorian townhouse measuring in excess of 8,800 sq ft, located on Clapham Common Northside for £7.2million. With six double bedrooms and a 120ft garden, it’s got a lot to offer – as well as a ballroom for entertaining friends.
But is anyone even thinking of buying or selling their property at the moment? With political uncertainty accompanied by a large dose of Brexit ennui, has it all just ground to a halt? “I have an overwhelming sense that people are desensitised to and fed up with waiting to find out what’s happening with Brexit,” says Joel Baseley of Rampton Baseley. “But there are 50% less properties on the market and therefore less choice, so it’s more of a sellers’ market.” Joel believes that the super-wealthy coming into the area buying that one-off, primary residence will make the purchase regardless of the political situation. “They’ll take a risk because it’s their family home and worth the investment to them.” The agency is selling this Westover Road property for £6.35m, which boasts extensive lateral space (it’s two houses turned into one), with ten bedrooms and a 79ft south-facing garden. It’s the ideal ‘forever’ family home.
Luke Parle from Portico has also tracked a shift in the market. “Weak growth and even a drop in houses prices over the past two years has resulted in a buyers’ market. Q1 2019 has, however, seen a surge in activity from first-time buyers and existing homeowners upsizing; this, mixed with a slight drop in new available properties, has resulted in a slightly stronger market than we saw throughout 2018.” And when it comes to the top of the market, properties are still moving. “From what we’ve seen over the past two years, properties between £1m and £2m have struggled to sell quickly, however, homes well above this level still have a large audience,” Luke confirms.
But what makes one house more expensive than its seemingly identical counterpart? Beyond square footage and general presentation, what are the factors that ramp up the price of a property? Austin Thorogood of John Thorogood says features such as off-street parking or a large garden, in an area where they are rare, make a big difference to the value of larger houses. Precise position on the road might also pump up the price too. His agency is currently selling this fabulous double-fronted property on Lavender Gardens (£3.25m) which is on the right side of the road for the sun and right in the middle of the road where the gardens are quieter and more private.
As a result, the house has already attracted significant interest within days of going on the market. Austin also advises that quality of renovation, a modern layout and a universally appealing design will have much wider appeal and may therefore lead to competitive bidding. This beautiful Nightingale Square property, a premier location with access to a private garden square (£2.65m), currently on Thorogood’s books, is a great example. It hasn’t just been renovated but exhaustively re-invented as a modern home, giving buyers reassurance that what they’re paying for will stand the test of time.
If you prefer being closer to the river than a park, there are options aplenty. With contemporary, originally designed blocks dominating the banks of the Thames, flat lovers are spoilt for choice. In Nine Elms at the Riverlight development, Portico has a stylish apartment with river views, high-spec kitchen, two double bedrooms including an en-suite, two balconies and a residents’ leisure suite including gym and swimming pool for £999,999. For a new development to command the top prices, it must offer exceptional facilities for residents, as well as transport links and shops within walking distance. “Some new build developments have struggled recently, however more iconic buildings have still held a strong premium,” explains Luke. “Take Battersea Power Station, for example; so many people still want to be part of this outstanding development that prices have not been affected here. On the other hand, some new builds which don’t have the exclusivity of the Power Station nor are has high-end, have been hit hard with a drop in values, but this seems to have levelled off now we’re into 2019.”
For a wow-factor flat in a more traditional building, Marsh & Parsons has a beautifully refurbished three-bedroom flat on Bolingbroke Grove for £1.35 million. With a contemporary, open-plan rear reception room, high ceilings and private garden, as well as a knock-out master suite, it’s a luxurious option that packs a punch.
“If a property is located on a prime road, it has the right orientation, and an excellent finish inside and out, these are the factors to command a premium price,” explains Charles Streatfield of Marsh & Parsons. But it’s far from being just a millionaire’s market right now. There are some desirable flats at decent prices for those looking for an investment, or a long-term buy for the children. Marsh & Parsons has a bright, airy flat on Spanish Road, off East Hill, with two double bedrooms and outdoor space, ideal for entertaining in the summer as well as housing a storage shed (and storage is always in short supply in a flat). It’s in a fantastic location and has an asking price of £485,000.
Whether you’ve had a Lottery windfall or decided to move on with your life regardless of Brexit woes, there are some amazing properties in Wandsworth and the market appears to be moving once more.