Strong London West End sales market means properties attract best bids

Laurence Glynne, Partner at LDG, comments: “The shortage of property on the market means that there are several buyers chasing each property.  Even at strong market prices, properties are going to best bids; we’ve had three examples of this recently including Collingwood House, a one bedroom apartment in Fitzrovia that was on the market for £495,000, Stirling Court, a one bedroom flat that was on the market for £525,000, and Falmer House, a one bedroom flat in Marylebone that was on the market for £675,000.  All of these properties sold in excess of asking prices and were bought for owner occupation.

When looking at nationalities and buyers, LDG has seen a year on year decrease of UK based purchasers; down from 70% in 2010/2011, to 49% in the 2011/2012 financial year.  This goes hand in hand with an increase in international buyers (outside of Europe), up from 13% to 36%.  Laurence adds: “Our buyer statistics echo the sentiment that international buyers continue to put their money into London property, viewing it as a safe haven, whilst UK buyers are currently either staying put in their current homes, or turning to the rental market.”

He continues: “When we look at the effect that the increase in Stamp Duty will have on the West End market, 78% of our sales in 2011/2012 were below £2m, with 21% over.  We would anticipate that the top end of the market may be initially quieter but in the long term, we don’t think there’ll be any significant effect in the West End.”

LDG’s lettings manager, Javier Carrillo, comments: “Rental prices have remained steady since their peak in summer 2011. Currently, there is a demand for one and two bedroom flats in the £400-£600pw price range – and these tend to take around one week to let. There is also a strong demand for ‘top-class’ properties due to the change in attitude towards renting – these properties tend to attract bidding wars. For example, we recently asked £725pw for a two bedroom flat in Whitfield Street which attracted competitive bidding and resulted in a £800pw let.

“Over the last three months, we’ve seen a greater number of ‘high quality’ applicants looking – i.e. people who have all the necessary paper work/references prepared in advance and always offer the asking price.

“Compared to the end of last year, there has been a rise in UK nationals looking to rent, along with a noticeable increase in European nationals coming to the capital to work.  Our applicants tend to come from the media and construction industries as well as mid-management. We have also noted a 25% increase in company lets, indicating a return of confidence, as before, many company budgets were being cut and employees had to rent independently.”

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