As lockdown begins to ease, these are the most desirable properties on the market in July 2020
The forecast for the year at the beginning of what rapidly turned into an annus horribilis was relatively positive. At the start of 2018, Britain was beset by Brexit indecision, a parliament in limbo and rumours of businesses fleeing to the continent if it crashed out of the European Union. Fast forward to Q1 of 2020 and Boris’ deal on 31 January allowed businesses to breathe a sigh of relief that a no-deal was off the agenda. Estate agent Knight Frank revealed back in February that £48.4bn of global capital was targeting London – up from the £40bn they were tracking 12 months prior. Then the world went into lockdown.
Prices for prime London real estate declined for the first time in more than a year as Covid-19 rapidly spread around the globe. Wetherell, which specialises in Mayfair-based property, reported that during lockdown volume sales in Mayfair were down 57 per cent, and 65 per cent across prime central London more generally.
However, in a slightly more optimistic outlook, it is thought that as the market emerges from lockdown we can expect to see a slight increase in demand as buyers look towards the longterm. London still ranks among the most desirable cities for foreign investment, and the weakened pound has attracted outside buyers to invest in the capital's most exclusive postcodes.
Estate agents have actually seen new buyer registrations pick up since the beginning of lockdown, which has, unsurprisingly, changed buyer behaviour. Properties that have gardens or terraces are now considered one of the top priorities for people looking to buy their next home. According to Savills, a consequence of this is more homeowners looking at properties in the countryside; those buying in central London are looking for homes with larger square footage and, if possible, access to outdoor space. Wetherell's London figures indicate that lettings have remained particularly buoyant, as business travel and international students slowly return to the capital.
In his summer statement, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, also announced that there will be no stamp duty to pay on properties in England worth up to £500,000 until 31 March 2021. Although this is unlikely to have a drastic effect on prime London realty, it does mean that prospective buyers looking for a main home will save £15,000 on the first £500,000 of their purchase.
Cadence, King's Cross
The redevelopment of King's Cross from grimy railway and industrial depot to a creative and luxury living hub is undoubtedly one of London's most impressive urban regeneration projects. Designed by Alison Brooks Architects, Cadence is one of the area's most in-demand residential developments, defined by its dramatic, redbrick arches. A central courtyard boasts a private tranquillity pool, which creates a calming al fresco space for residents. The nearby Regent's Canal and the restaurants and shops of Coal Drops Yard are particularly valuable amenities in the post-COVID residential market. Communal roof terraces across different levels of the building are adorned with greenery and offer far-reaching views across the city.
Prices range from £585,000 to £2,400,000, knightfrank.co.uk
Bentinck Mews, Marylebone
Nestled down a quiet cobbled mews street off Marylebone Lane, this three-bedroom house was entirely refurbished by Studio Mackereth. Dark timber, oak and stainless steel are offset by marble and generous natural light, which pours in from both the front and rear of the house. A sliding panel above the fireplace in the living room reveals a library of vinyl records, while cleverly hidden cupboards offer ample storage space throughout the property, without compromising its clean, minimalist aesthetic.
St Stephen's Yard, Bayswater
We featured this property before in our 'most design-worthy houses on the market' and thought it should make the cut again because of its fantastic outdoor space. Epitomising open-plan living, its use of space, privacy and tranquillity cannot be overstated. The double garage doors at the front of the property nod to the home's former incarnation as a stables and, later, a series of design studios. Essentially, several studios have been knocked through to create a five-bedroom, self-contained mews house occupying two floors. The cobbled courtyard garden extends for more than 30 metres, with bedrooms flanking one side of the wall. On the top floor, a sitting room leads out to a spacious terrace, overlooking the courtyard oasis below. There are certainly worse places to spend a lockdown.
Pembroke Villas, Kensington
For the first time in some 30 years, this beautifully-proportioned, semi-detached house has come on the market. Unmodernised and, as a result, the perfect blank canvas for a future buyer, the house presents an opportunity to create a wonderful family home. Located in the highly desirable W8 postcode of Kensington, the property benefits from the tranquil grounds of Holland Park nearby, the Design Museum (which won the European Museum of the Year Award in 2018) and Whole Foods on Kensington High Street. Proof that central London does have green refuges for homeowners, the home has a west/south facing garden and terrace. Pembroke Square nearby also has a tennis court and a charming garden centre, Rassells.
Offers in excess of £4.5m, savills.com
Kenmont Gardens, Kensal Rise
Homes don’t come much more exceptional, or indeed ethereal, than Kensal Green’s Kenmont Gardens. A converted Gothic church, spanning more than 6,000 sq ft, has been converted into a four-bedroom property of breath-taking interior spaces and exceptional original features.
As well as stained-glass windows, a stunning bronze staircase, blackened oak-parquet flooring and a conical-roofed turret that serves as an entrance hall, the former place of worship features vaulted bedrooms (with en-suite bathrooms and free-standing baths) and a custom-made, Rupert Bevan-designed kitchen (with polished-concrete worktops and copper-coloured zinc cabinets).
Kenmont Gardens is a short walk from the northern end of Ladbroke Grove, with Kensal Green providing the nearest underground station. An Englishman’s home is his castle – or in this case, his church.