Weekly Property Round Up

Written on 5 October 2015

This week's property round up comes from Harry Edwards, who looks at the property trends, the latest big London property sales and a dip in house prices due to new stamp duty rules.

New stamp duty rules dent London's elite

London's most expensive properties have been dented by strict new stamp duty rules, research from Savills has shown, with prices in central London falling 4.6% in September, compared with the same month last year.

The research suggested new rules introduced in last year's Autumn Statement, which hiked stamp duty on homes worth more than £2m, are having the desired impact. While prices of homes worth less than £2m rose (3% for those in the £500,000-£1m bracket; 0.9% for those valued between £1m and £2m); the value of properties worth more than £2m fell.

The higher the price, the bigger the fall: those in the £2m-£3m bracket dropped 1.1%, while homes worth £3m-£5m fell 2.4% and homes valued at £5m or more fell 4.7%. 

To be fair, prices across all prime London property rose 0.7% on the quarter – although on an annual basis, growth was flat. 

Lucian Cook, Savills' head of residential research, said the new rules had "undoubtedly made buyers more cautious, offsetting any post election euphoria". 

As a footnote the government raised £7.5bn from SDLT in the 2014/15 tax year, the highest sum ever raised from stamp duty, topping the previous record of £6.7bn in 2007/08.

London's prime property slowdown: Is One Hyde Park the canary in the coal mine?

Overlooking London's most famous park, nestled next to the opulent Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge is the world's priciest block of flats: One Hyde Park.

Developed by the Candy brothers, the penthouse was sold to an unnamed eastern European buyer − possibly a Ukrainian oligarch − for a cool £140m in May 2014. At the other end of the scale a one bedroom flat here will set you back £5.5m.

It has been reported that many of the 86 flats are owned by offshore shell companies, bought as investments in the hot London property market, a safety deposit box of sorts for wealthy foreigners to shelter their cash from war and political turmoil in their corners of the world.

However, London property market appears to be on the turn. One Hyde Park is sending a message that London's prime market is deflating: ten flats are for sale, ranging in price from £5.5m to £75m.

Danish retail dynasty is close to purchasing a major redevelopment opportunity near London’s Oxford Street

Bestseller, which is owned by the billionaire Holch Povlsen family, is under offer to buy a number of buildings between Hanover Square and Oxford Street for around £170m from M&G Real Estate. The buildings at 18 Harewood Place, 14-15 Hanover Square and 293-297 Oxford Street were put up for sale as a major redevelopment opportunity in August via CBRE.

M&G initially considered a property swap for the assets, but the deal with Bestseller is understood to be for an outright sale.

Bestseller already owns 309 Oxford Street nearby which it bought for around £100m in 2013. It also owns the building next door, from which fashion brand River Island trades. The family-owned retailer was founded in Denmark in 1975 by Merete Bech and Troels Holch Povlsen and owns several European high street brands, among them Jack & Jones and Vero Moda.

London riverside site up for sale

A rare riverside site with consent for a £300m residential scheme has been put up for sale in Fulham, west London. Ptarmigan Land is seeking a developer to build an Allies and Morrison-designed residential scheme of 237 homes at Albert Wharf, either through a partnership or an outright sale.

The Wandsworth Bridge Road site, which is one of the few remaining residential riverside development opportunities in south-west London, is likely to attract offers in excess of £60m. The 3.6-acre site, adjacent to Wandsworth Bridge, is currently home to a Cemex concrete batching plant and includes three riverside wharves – known as Albert Wharf, Swedish Wharf and Comley’s Wharf.

The scheme will comprise four buildings ranging from five to 13 storeys. As well as flats, it will include 14,000 sq ft of commercial and retail space, a Thames path and a jetty. Unusually, any developer will also have to provide 87,000 sq ft of space beneath the flats to allow the cement plant to remain on the site. There has been fierce competition from both UK and international developers for riverside sites along the Thames since the financial crisis.