London’s Luxury Properties
London’s high-end apartment market has changed dramatically in the 22 years that I have been acquiring properties for my clients.
Back in the early 2000’s, a high-end apartment building meant that you had a porter and maybe parking if you were lucky. Basically, you had the choice of a mansion block or poorly run buildings where the communal areas looked as though they were still in the 1980’s.
Admittedly, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is also not a million miles from the truth. But now, the combination of modern building methods and the expectations of overseas buyers, in particular, has changed all that and the new developments in prime central London are carefully thought out “products” rather than mere buildings. This has also transferred to the house market and there are several features that appear in these properties.
However, there is a really vital question that you must ask yourself when acquiring a property in London, which I will get to later.
London Luxury Property Features
But first, what are the top features that you can expect to see in London’s luxury properties?
Well, it comes down to one key factor – time. An unfortunate side effect of being successful is that your life becomes more complicated. You have more responsibilities, you probably travel a lot and have several commitments. So, the last thing you want is to waste your time and you want life to be made as easy as possible whenever possible. All this while expecting the highest standards.
So, the absolute basic necessity is a concierge service who can deal with everything from ensuring the apartment is cleaned and stocked before your arrival to booking restaurants to any maintenance issues that may arise while you are away. Tied in with this is obviously the security aspect, which will include patrols, 24-hour surveillance, etc., i.e. it’s a significant step up from the classic porter.
And where once parking was seen as a significant bonus, now it is expected and the best developments offer valet parking and if you are acquiring one of the larger apartments, they will come with multiple parking spaces (I once acquired a house in a gated, new development in prime central London for a client who needed parking for 6 cars underground – this would have been impossible before 2005 and is still very rare now).
But all this is fairly mundane and the developers now look to create “experiences” within the buildings, so you can expect to see the following in London’s Luxury properties:
- Swimming pools, but not just any old pool, they will be specially oxygenated, be made of a special material and there is even a “sky pool” planned for one development that spans two buildings in mid-air
- Spas which include gyms, treatment rooms, saunas, jacuzzi, etc.
- Sports facilities including golf simulators and, in some cases, underground squash and tennis courts
- Cinema rooms that can be booked for private viewings
- Dining rooms which can be booked for parties with a kitchen so food can be freshly prepared by your chosen chef
- Wine storage
- Meeting rooms/business suites
This has also translated to the house market, where people also want gyms, an office and staff quarters. This has become far more prevalent for two reasons. Firstly, engineering has advanced dramatically, so it is now possible to excavate under houses to create a lot more space (due to planning restrictions in prime central London it is very hard to build up). Secondly, the increase in the value of land not to mention Stamp Duty Land Tax has meant that it makes financial sense to excavate, which had previously been prohibitively expensive.
So, there is the possibility of adding significant value to a property and one of the homes I acquired for a client was extended by 4,000 sq.ft. because it had a double garden. Meanwhile, another couple for whom I found a house in Chelsea created another floor although they decided that a giant wine cellar, tasting room and dance floor would be more fun than a gym!
We even considered a house in Kensington where there was planning for a 10,000 square foot underground extension which included a squash court, car museum and night club, but we decided that the economics of the transaction didn’t make sense.
In short, the developers are constantly searching for new ideas although in many instances I would argue that these are novelties that are great for marketing purposes but don’t necessarily add much value, which leads me nicely to the question I always ask my clients:
How much do you really need all this?
Part of my role when advising my clients is to play devil’s advocate. For example, a Swiss client wanted to acquire a four bedroom apartment in Mayfair in a new development that had all the additional facilities.
When I asked why he needed four bedrooms, he said that he would need one for his chef. I suggested that he could save money by acquiring a three bedroom apartment and hiring a chef in London to come and cook when he required (he had also mentioned that he would be eating in restaurants too). This came as a surprise as he hadn’t realised that such a service was possible because it wasn’t in Geneva.
This is an extreme case, but how often will you use the golf simulator, meeting rooms, gym, etc.?
Because if these aren’t necessities then you may be better advised to acquire a property in a more traditional building, because in my view many new developments are massively overpriced. And if you want to minimise wasted time and stress, there are alternatives.
For example, there are concierge services in London that can arrange everything for you. They can have people collect deliveries for you at your home, book theatre tickets, restaurants, arrange private shopping trips, holidays, etc. Indeed, the only difference is they aren’t “on site”. And if security is an issue, there are solutions to this too.
Basically, if you don’t need all the “toys” in a new development, you can still acquire a property in a wonderful location and save yourself time and stress while saving a considerable amount of money and you will probably be making a better investment too.
Unfortunately, some people decide to buy in new developments close to prime central London but in areas that are actually secondary. This is because they seem cheaper but I would argue that they are actually more mispriced, so this is even more dangerous from an investment perspective.
Of course, everyone’s requirements and situations are different, but if you don’t have:
- A good understanding of all the opportunities available
- Access to the best opportunities including off-market properties
- Extensive knowledge of what represents good value and what is overpriced in each building and street
- Good property negotiation skills
- In depth knowledge of the London property market and the legal and tax implications
If you don’t have these, would it be unreasonable to say that you will probably fail to find the best property your money can buy and then pay too much?
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So, if you would like to avoid the seven most expensive mistakes London property buyers make, you can request a complimentary copy of my book, The Insider’s Guide To Acquiring £1m to £100m Property in London, which reveals the tested and proven strategies and tactics that I have been using for over 20 years you, by simply clicking here.
Or if you would prefer to discuss your plans to acquire a property in London you can request a complimentary strategy call by clicking here. or calling 02034578855 (+442034578855 from outside the UK).
Good luck with your search for London’s luxury properties.