When MGM nearly went bankrupt in 2009 and almost took James Bond down with it film fans held their collective breath and hoped for some sort of elixir. They got it. With other markets still reeling from 2008, London’s property market has recovered and is as indomitable as its favourite spy. In early November, Knight Frank released data regarding central London’s price index for October 2012. Unsurprisingly, the search for what the property giant called safety sent prices spiralling upwards: prime central London prices rose an average of 0.8 percent, annual growth now sits at over 10 percent, prices are sitting some 52 percent higher than they were in March 2009 and price growth on flats leapfrogged that of houses — 11.1 percent to 8.4.
That London remains a strong investor market is anything but news, and even threatened tax measures and changes to stamp duties on properties over ￡2 million have had little impact. The UK’s safe haven status is as strong as ever. Add to that an ongoing supply crunch and London seems poised to retain its global property crown. “Our forecast for 5 percent growth at the start of the year in prime central London prices in 2012 is likely to be exceeded — with prices likely to end the year higher by around 8 percent,” stated Liam Bailey, Knight Frank’s head of residential research in London.
With factors like that remaining in play, it’s also unsurprising that new projects that launch in Hong Kong find buyers more often than not. Vivid and distinct neighbourhoods — from Camden Town, to Marylebone to the West End — are one of the most notable aspects of London’s property landscape. The city has a wealth of unique districts to choose from and become enamoured with. Two new developments (both using Colliers International for sales in Hong Kong) are ideal examples of the neighbourhood vibe that doubles as wise investment.
Inside Zone 1 tucked in a corner that is sitting on the cusp of star status is Goodman’s Fields. Berkeley Homes’ newest mixed-use project sits on seven acres of land (two of that will be parkland and open space) and will incorporate 920 modern studio, one- , two- and three bedroom flats as well as retail and dining space and a new hotel. A stone’s throw from the financial district and nestled amid Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Old Street and Hoxton, Goodman’s Fields is in a well-connected, fast-rising area of London and will only benefit from the arrival of the much lauded Crossrail in 2018. “Business is obviously the focus of the area and we expect our target market to be people who work in the city. An easy commute to work rather than travelling for an hour,” theorises Piers Clanford, managing director of Berkeley Homes from the developer’s new permanent office in Hong Kong. “So we’ve introduced business lounges into the scheme as well as meeting areas.”
The entire development, designed by architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, will be completed in stages, with the first set for 2015 and Goodman’s Fields is placing a great deal of emphasis on the landscape (courtesy of Murdoch Wickham). The development will include a luxury spa and cinema and every unit has some kind of outdoor space, be it a balcony or winter garden.
Head down the river a you’ll stumble upon the newest Thames-side flats in London at Greenwich Millennium Village (GMV), next door to Greenwich Yacht Club and just east of central London. Canary Skyline@GMV sits a few steps from a Jubilee Line Tube station and within minutes of Canary Wharf and O2. Canary Skyline@GMV features sleek kitchens, high quality integrated appliances, luxury tile and oak flooring and chic contemporary décor in one- two- and three-bedroom configurations.
Contemporary designs by architects Jestico and Whiles set against landscaped courtyards, with either balconies, terraces or both on most units are the order of the day. The neighbourhood itself, part of a massive regeneration on the Greenwich Peninsula, is a prime example of modern sustainable living, and boasts an enormous array of leisure, shopping, dining, transport links, health and education facilities and green space with an emphasis on walking, cycling and public transport over cars. The Village was also planned, and continued to develop, with a sense of community and provides a refreshing change of tone that separates it from many other new developments in London.
Flats at Goodman’s Fields begin at ￡435,000 (HK$5.4 million) for a studio. As Clanford notes, “The last infrastructure project we saw in London was the Jubilee line in 2000, and property prices around those stations gained momentum leading up to the opening. We expect something similar to happen with the Crossrail.” Prices at Canary Skyline@GMV begin at ￡239,999 (HK$3 million) and the property is expected to be complete in spring of 2014. Colliers International is projecting rental yields of approximately 5 to 6 percent as well as strong capital gains.