London Berkeley Group PropertiesA new year means … absolutely no change in the London property market. With little to indicate London is oversaturated or oversupplied, it’s business as usual for property investment. A duet of Berkeley Group properties in the shadow of a city icon is now for sale.

The Full Package
Meranti House is part of Berkeley’s massive Goodman’s Fields development in Aldgate, just north of Tower Bridge that will ultimately include almost 1,000 homes within the project. The 20-storey tower will account for 107 residences, ranging from studio apartments to three-bedroom units and one duplex penthouse.

Meranti is one of scores of new “neighbourhoods” that are being created in London, be it through regeneration or new builds: Kings Cross, Elephant & Castle and Nine Elms as just a few. With its multiple piazzas and town squares, shops, restaurants, residences and offices, Goodman’s Fields is just one more.

“The ethos behind our developments is about place making, creating distinctive new developments which not only deliver fantastic new residential homes, but also make a difference and benefit to the wider area,” explains Berkeley (North East London) Managing Director Piers Clanford. He points out the extras that Goodman’s Field will be able to offer, citing a new two-acre park — with commissioned art — in Zone 1 as just one. “Goodman’s Fields is unique because it incorporates a mix of commercial and leisure facilities … for everyone to enjoy, creating an oasis in the heart of the capital.”

As a hub of the finance and, increasingly, tech industries, prime London has been touted as a strong rental market, making yields an attractive part of investing in the city. Targeted at both end-users and investors, Meranti House is ideally positioned within walking distance of 300,000 professionals’ offices, and end-users will be attracted to its lifestyle amenities: a private cinema, lounge, pool and spa among others. “At Goodman’s Fields purchasers will be buying for both capital gains and yield generation. Due to the development’s close proximity to the City and Canary Wharf, the area is a popular destination for rental tenants who want to live close to the office. The arrival of Crossrail in 2018 is also expected to see values rise,” states Clanford.

Elite Address
Down the road, Sandringham House is the latest phase to launch at One Tower Bridge. Located directly on the river at the foot of Tower Bridge, OTB is a state-of-the-art luxury development that incorporates home automation systems for heating and cooling, lighting, audio-visual gear and window covering controlled by a discrete touchscreen or mobile device. Remote access is available to residents anywhere in the world. The tower’s interiors come courtesy of Darling Associates, the minds behind One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge, and promise the height of contemporary elegance. Sandringham House comprises 44 one-, two- and three bedroom units (plus a penthouse) of OTB’s total of 356, so what sets it apart from the rest?

“Sandringham House is the first block which will have direct views across the west side of Potters Field Park. These unique views of the landscaped park will separate the block from all the others,” states Jon Hall, sales and marketing director at Berkeley Homes (Capital). Hall anticipates a combination of end-users and investors to be looking at Sandringham House, as the building has something for everyone and all needs. The question of course is whether or not it’s a yield property or an appreciation one, rather than a combination of both along the lines of Meranti House. “For the majority of purchasers, One Tower Bridge is a once in a life time opportunity to own a home in one of the capital’s most iconic locations,” says Hall. As a pricey property in a prestige location, “At this stage capital growth is the main reason for those investing rather than immediate yields.”

Tax Claws
Despite the ceaseless stream of London developments launching in Hong Kong and the charms of both Sandringham and Meranti, those rumblings of a new capital gains tax in the UK aren’t going away. Taxes are being blamed for Hong Kong and Singapore’s doldrums. How would a new tax impact the UK and perpetually popular London?

“It is too early to comment on the impact of CGT. It is likely that there will be short-term hesitation while the government clarifies the exact details,” Hall theorises. “But the London property market is very strong and has a proven track record with foreign property investors.” Clanford points out that a CGT isn’t new to the UK; residents have paid one for years. He’s quick to remind that the rate of the tax, applicable come April 2015, isn’t set and the how is also still a mystery. It should also be noted that a CGT on foreign owners already exists in other mature markets that remain popular investment locations (Australia, Canada). Clanford believes demand isn’t going anywhere. “London is still considered a safe haven and people will continue to be drawn by its world class education system and work opportunities. Investors will also carry on buying in areas like Aldgate as they offer higher rental yields in comparison to other central London locations.”

Sandringham House is scheduled for completion in 2016 and prices begin at £950,000 (HK$12.2 million). Meranti House is scheduled for a 2017 finish date, and prices begin at £549,500 (HK$7.1 million).