Welcome to the post-European world. With French and German elections still to come, that might be a stretch, but when UK Prime Minister Theresa May officially triggered Brexit on March 29 the world shifted. One thing that may not have shifted, however, is the continued focus on London for investors. “Looking beyond the horizon line and the short term disruption of Article 50 being triggered, those fundamentals we always return to haven’t changed,” explains JLL’s Adam Challis, head of UK residential research. “London’s place in the UK, and its place on the globe, hasn’t changed.” To that end, investors looking to enter the UK market while the currency is still favourable will want to investigate West End Gate, located precisely where its name suggests.
Currency isn’t the only factor that led to the late-2016 surge in London investment. Rents in prime London locations like Chelsea and Marylebone are performing better than other districts nationally, largely due to the city’s continued supply-demand imbalance. Hand in hand with rental rates, prices are predicted to rise a modest but healthy 1% this year following a soft 2016 (3.7%) — despite the activity. As Challis sees it, the soft year had more to do with the UK’s additional 3% stamp duty for investors. High value properties that traditionally inflated average prices were less prominent because of the duty, and subdued demand brought prices down. This year is set up for more stability.
“Buyers of London residential in 2017 will seek value. With stable price growth expected overall, the locations that will outperform include larger regeneration locations and properties that represent good fundamental investment values such as good location, quality of scheme and a developer with strong track record,” says Challis.
In addition to London’s fundamentals is its bargain status, something buyers don’t often associate with the city. The supplemental stamp duty doesn’t bring London’s transaction costs anywhere close to those in New York, Vancouver or Hong Kong — which is the highest in the world for a £1 million property. “For international purchasers, London [transaction costs are] still relatively less expensive, and in fact it’s among the lowest of the international gateway cities that attract investors,” argues Challis. On top of that, West End Gate’s prime location in low-supply Westminster works in investors’ favour. “For investors in a market that feels less certain than it has in the past, being able to buy in lower-competition locations makes good sense.”
Bookended by Paddington and its forthcoming Crossrail station to the west and Marylebone in the east, Berkeley Homes’ West End Gate comprises 542 apartments in five buildings, including the 30-storey Westmark. Designed by Squire & Partners, West End Gate has a distinct lifestyle element to it, located as it is between Hyde and Regent’s Parks.
“It’s a great product in a great location, it’s well positioned and with a relative lack of supply, current and projected, it’s a safe option for an investor to get their toe in the market,” says Simon Howard, sales director for Berkeley Homes Central London. In a city becoming notorious for its non-affordability, Howard argues West End Gate’s safe haven address trumps price. “Yes, you could go further afield with probably lower capital value, but it’s a little more of a high risk/high reward [play].”
Beyond the parks, however, West End Gate sits in an enviable district, defined by stellar retail and culture options at Mayfair, Marylebone and Soho, five star hotels (The Langham, Claridge’s, Hyatt Regency), everyday necessities at Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, educational institutions such as the London School of Business and Finance, Regent’s University, University of Westminster, the arts hub of The Royal Academy, and Lord’s Cricket Ground. Running through much of the neighbourhood are the canals of Little Venice, providing a touch of urban tranquillity. All of it is supported by outstanding transport links: four Underground stations within walking distance, a fleet of buses on Edgware Road, and direct connections to King’s Cross/St Pancras International (about 17 minutes away) and Heathrow Airport.
Inside Westmark, flats comprise studio (which West End Gate calls Manhattans) to three-bedroom home, sized from 452 square feet to 1,394 square feet. Facilities and amenities include 24-hour concierge services, business lounge, gym and 20-metre swimming pool, private cinema, a new piazza with water features and landscaping. Miele and Siemens appliances complement bespoke kitchens and bathrooms, the latter fitted with underfloor heating, and high-specification interiors. Reflective surfaces are the order of the day, giving the living spaces a contemporary feel that provide a delicate contrast to the exteriors, which are designed to fit seamlessly into the surrounding cityscape.
Westmark, Howard believes, will appeal, “Very much to young professional, international students and pied-à-terre users who work in the city during the week. A broad range of buyers and potential tenants that will be captured by that price point … [West End Gate] perfectly captures the essence of London living, combining the best of old and new in its design and location. These new apartments are ideally placed to enjoy everything London has to offer, from the excitement and bustle of the West End’s nightlife, to the waterside cafes of Little Venice and the rich culture of stylish Mayfair. West End Gate offers an exciting opportunity for homebuyers and investors alike.”
Properties at West End Gate’s Westmark begin at approximately £620,000 (HK$6 million), and the project is scheduled for completion in 2021.