A Royal Welcome
Sun 31 Mar 2013
The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is home to some of the wealthiest people, and their homes reflect this. From elegant period architecture to state-of-the-art features, these are truly the cream of the crop.
Of course, prices can vary quite considerably within the borough. Even the average price wavers according to which index you consult - for example 1,080,479 (Land Registry) or 2,180,412 (Rightmove). the most exclusive properties tend to be on garden squares or within luxurious new developments.
International buyers are drawn here by the knowledge that they will be making a safe investment (Prices have risen by 13.4% over the past year), as well as gaining access to some of the world's finest shops, restaurants and bars. Properties are increasingly being dressed with international buyers in mind, notes Stephen Holmes of Savills. 'Appealing to a particular cultural taste or way of living in a market that is increasingly dominated by overseas money is vital,' he explains.
The heart-of-the-capital postcode doesn't mean compromising on green space either, with Kensington Palace Gardens, Hyde Park and Holland Park on the doorstep, while the museums of South Kensington and other cultural attractions such as the theatres of the West End close by complete the picture.
Overseas investment has undoubtedly kept London property values hight since the credit crunch, but domestic buyers are drawn to Kensington too, attracted by its community spirit, which is more apparent than in some parts of the capital. Good schools, private and state, appeal to families, as do the parks and communal gardens, while easy access into the city make the area popular with professionals. Travel out of town is easy too, either via the A4 or by train.
Buyers and tenants have a fantastic choice of property, from red brick mansion blocks, mews houses and stucco-fronted period terraces to high-end new developments.
Chloe Leefe of Mountgrange Heritage reports a busy start to the year: 'people seem very keen to get moving', she says, adding that while the lack of stock 'seems to be driving the slightly feverish feel to the market... buyers are doing their research and are price sensitive.'
Matthew Harrop of John D Wood has noticed an increase in two-bedroom flats for sale which have failed to let at a good price, while properties 'on the cusp of the 7% SDLT threshold are proving harder to sell' adding that 'vendors are better advised to ask 1,950,000 rather than over 2 million.'
Victorian and Georgian properties are still most popular, he says, especially wide low-built houses or lateral flats, with the most popular addresses being the Philimore Estate, Hillgate Village, Palace Gardens Terrace, Valloton Estate (Cottesmore and Victoria Road), Bedford Gardens and the stucco houses south of the high street (Scarsdale Villas etc).
'Hillgate Village remains a hotspot for young professionals as well as people downsizing from larger family homes,' reports Craig Tonkin of Marsh & Parsons. 'Lateral apartments with lifts and porters are always on international buyers' shopping lists, and classic, white stucco-fronted family houses are constantly sought after.'
Kensington will continue to be a desirable option believes Nick Carter of Chesterton Humberts, as it offers 'not only a secure investment platform, but also a highly desirable lifestyle - a rare and attractive combination found in few other areas.'