Article from FOCUS Magazine – Spring 16 issue.
It seems that the property market is set for a spurt in the first quarter of 2016, but after that the picture is less clear
Prices are still rising in the more popular areas for the right house in the right location. New homes too have to tick all the boxes to achieve a sale.
“As niche developers, we limit our build to a very select number of new homes each year, and 2016 will be no exception” says David Smith, group head of marketing and PR at Octagon. “All our houses coming onto the market are situated in very exclusive locations, each bearing its own design signature, a quality which is always highly attractive to our clientele. This self-enforced rarity value of ours coupled with the imminent hike in Stamp Duty could trigger some early decision making for people considering a move this year”.
Simon Ashwell from Savills, who are the appointed agents for Octagon’s latest release – Falconwood House located on the exclusive St George’s Hill Estate – recently told David that their Weybridge office had already witnessed an influx of potential purchasers since the beginning of the New Year, wishing to commit to a new home on the Estate. “He is advising them to make a decision to proceed whilst homes of the Octagon calibre are still available at the current prices” explains David.
Falconwood House has two very special features – an elevated heated outdoor infinity pool from where owners can take in the view of their landscaped gardens and, a first for Octagon, a ‘dog cottage’ built in Cape Cod style and offering luxury outdoor accommodation for owners’ pets! The five bedroom house with four reception rooms, a lavishly equipped kitchen with informal dining area, cinema room, separate staff accommodation and integral garage has a guide price of £9.5 million.
Another Octagon development is Burford Place, an elegant country house set within 5.5 acres of grounds in Picketts Hill, Hampshire. Located within mature secluded grounds, the property offers spacious accommodation featuring five reception rooms including a cinema room, seven bedrooms and detached triple garage. The grounds lend themselves to creating a pony paddock and stables with additional storage barn if desired. For sale at £4.25 million through appointed joint agents Strutt & Parker and Knight Frank.
Octagon is also selling Earlswood House, a six bedroom home which has just launched on the prestigious Wentworth Estate in Virginia Water. The three storey house has five reception rooms, a bespoke kitchen/dining/family area and a large entertainment zone on the second floor. For sale through appointed agents Aston Mead Land and Barton Wyatt at a price guide of £3.975 million.
“The new tax on second homes and buy to let property will be a major contributing factor to the property market trends we are likely to see over the next twelve months. We predict a sharp increase in demand within commutable areas such as Ascot and Sunningdale as people begin to sell their second or ‘holiday homes’ further afield in favour of larger properties closer to London” says Jane Brabyn of Strutt & Parker’s Ascot office. “Consequently, our country house sales team has already experienced a very busy start to the year in and around the Ascot area. Competition is particularly fierce within the £1 million to £2 million section of the market and as such, we often find that these properties can achieve over and above their market value”.
The agent is selling Oakwood, a five bedroom house with double reception room and games room for £1.695 million; and Woodstock, a splendid Victorian house with seven bedrooms, three reception rooms, a five bay garage, tennis court, swimming pool and leisure complex. With four acres and woodland, it is for sale for £2.995 million.
Charlie Fisher, of Savills’ Sunningdale office, concurs. “In Sunningdale we are seeing increased appetite from local buyers and those from further afield looking to make their purchase prior to the latest change to stamp duty that takes effect for all completions on secondary residences from 1st April. This has also brought forward the purchase of main residences for some families, in order to allow them to keep hold of existing properties. As such we are predicting a strong first half of year, so we would advise those considering a sale this year to prepare for the market now in order to capitalise on the stronger demand we are expecting.
“For example, Lyndale – a brand new six bedroom home with swimming pool by Chartridge Developments in Ascot – is coming to the market with a guide price of £5.395 million. If treated as a second home, after March the additional stamp duty will be £161,850 – so very much worthwhile considering a purchase prior to the deadline.”
Savills’ Windsor office is selling a very smart Grade II* listed town house, situated adjacent to Windsor Castle. The house has recently been completely refurbished to a very high standard and has a stunning living room with a wall of glass overlooking the landscaped gardens and garden cottage. The five bedroom, five reception room house has a guide price of £5.5 million.
One area of disagreement is with regard to properties over the £2 million mark. Jane Brabyn thinks that there will be an increase in activity at the top end of the market this year. “This is largely driven by the fact that local homebuyers have now recovered from the initial ‘shock factor’ caused by the stamp duty changes affecting property at £2 million and above”. However Tim Firth, director at the Jackson-Stops & Staff Weybridge office, feels that the prohibitive stamp duty will dampen demand for houses over £2 million and also deter current owners of such homes from moving.
“Eventually houses in the price brackets below this will have nowhere to step up to, thus stalling the market top down. However, the overall picture remains positive as long as the low levels of property stock do not diminish further” he says. “I envisage property prices in Weybridge will continue to rise at sustainable levels throughout the year, with property in the Surrey area set to experience growth of 6-10%. The safety net of property prices in this area is of course another big bonus, with the last recession showing that whilst activity may have slowed, prices held their own and have been steadily moving upward for the last few years.”
Jackson-Stops & Staff is marketing a new six bedroom home in Burwood Park, Walton-on-Thames. The house has five reception rooms including an open plan kitchen and day room, striking floor to ceiling sash windows, an extensive garden and is for sale for £3.55 million.
Alex Herman, of Knight Frank’s Esher office, reckons that 2015 was a testing year for the prime property market in the Esher area. “This echoes the sentiment from the rest of the home counties where transaction levels have been down on previous years. There were however signs of life towards the end of last year with a number of viewings on properties between £2 million and £5 million. 2016 has kicked off with a bang and enquiries have more than doubled so we are looking forward to a revitalised market as we move into the spring”. He is selling Breckenridge, a five bedroom house in Claygate, built by Oakley Executive Homes in 2008. This has four reception rooms and a cinema room and is for sale for £2.15 million. In Esher, he is marketing a four bedroom, four reception room house with outdoor swimming pool. The property has scope for improvement and is priced at £2.375 million.
In Esher Park Avenue, Hanbury House – a large new mansion built by Royalton Homes with contemporary interiors – is for sale for £5.85 million. This has six bedrooms, six reception rooms and seven bathrooms, a curving staircase with glass balustrades, a glazed walk-in wine room and outdoor plunge pool.
“During the last year, a notable and expanding client sector is the downsizer. In Richmond and London, we have seen a number of transactions allowing empty nesters to realise their equity in the old (too large) family home, and ‘right size’ to a nearby grandly proportioned apartment” says Robert Leigh, managing director at Featherstone Leigh. He is marketing new apartments at The Star and Garter on Richmond Hill, which he says are a perfect example “having delighted both down and upsizers seeking high quality living, supported by five star services, in a unique, historic building”. This is in a stunning location with the famous ‘Turner view’ at its feet. Prices range from £1.75 million for a two bedroom apartment to £4.85 million for a four bedroom duplex penthouse.
Opposite Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, Walpole House – a new five bedroom property built by Richstone Properties – has just been launched. This has a bespoke kitchen/dining/living room, striking oak feature staircase, separate staff accommodation, basement leisure space, wine cellar and landscaped gardens. It is on the market for £6.75 million. “The recent changes in property taxation make it now more important than ever to deliver the right product, which offers outstanding quality for the right price” says David Rich-Jones, CEO. “In our experience, buyers want to purchase a home that has been carefully designed and constructed, down to the last detail, and will not accept anything less”.