London house prices performed well in May as buyers and sellers defied the usual trend of holding off on property transactions before an election. Traditionally the market is quieter in the lead up to an election and we can expect to see increase in activity after June 8th.According to leading property portal Rightmove, the capital’s annual rate of price growth remained subdued at 0.9 per cent following a 1.5 per cent drop last month. That was the biggest annual decline in almost eight years.London’s property market has under-performed the rest of the country since the start of 2016. As the referendum to leave the European Union, tax increases and unaffordable valuations hit investor demand, more expensive homes have suffered the most. Prices of homes in inner London rose just 0.6 per cent from a year ago, while outer London grew 1.2 per cent, according to figures from Rightmove. Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled her Conservative Party’s manifesto last week, which contained few surprise policies that might affect the housing market. The Conservatives lead the main opposition Labour Party by as much as 20 points in polls. In summary, there are pressures to move, regardless of Brexit and the election, and quality ‘best in class’ properties are still performing across all price points due to a lack of supply.
Marylebone’s Garden Squares
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is an ever increasingly popular event in the year since 1804, with thousands of visitors flooding the streets of Chelsea to see the latest gardens. Residential garden squares are highly sought after addresses to live in and can make all the difference when living in central London. Marylebone has a total of only four garden squares: Manchester Square, Portman Square, Montagu Square and Bryanston Square. If you include NW1, then we can countDorset Square, famously known as the Lord’s Old Ground before Lord’s relocated to where it is today. In W1, there are less opportunities to live in a garden square than you may expect.
Manchester Square, an 18th-century Georgian square, is primarily commercial. The north side is occupied by Hertford House, home to the beautiful and popular gallery The Wallace Collection. EMI’s London headquarters were previously located on the west side of the square, where one of the famous pictures of The Beatles was taken on the cover of their first LP, ‘Please Please Me’. Today there are only 3 houses, and the last sale was back in 2013, for £13,000,000 (£1,523/sqft).
Portman Square, built between 1765 and 1784, forms the centre of The Portman Estate, a major London landlord owning 110 acres of Marylebone in London’s West End. Of note, on the north of the square is Home House, a private members club, built by Robert Adam for Elizabeth, Countess of Home.There are two residential buildings next to Home House, whichare 15 Portman Square, a 1930’s art-deco building and Fitzhardinge House, a modern post-war building. Most apartments in number 15 are less 2,000 sqft, largely consisting of 1,200 sqft 3 bedroom apartments, as well as 4 penthouses, andfew smaller apartments. Fitzhardinge House is largely made up of 900 sqft 2 bedroom apartments, and there are a handful of 1 bedroom apartments, as well as some 3 bedroom penthouses. Both apartment buildings offer secure central London living, and one can expect to pay up to £2,500/sqft for a front facing apartment on a long lease. Jaffray Estates are currently selling two rare apartments in number 15; a grand large one bedroom for £1,495,000 and a front facing two bedroom for £1,450,000 on a medium-term lease requiring full modernisation.
The entire east side of Portman Square is occupied by Orchard Court, the most superior building in the square, and one of the most sought after residential purpose-built blocks in central London. Flat 6 was used by F section of the Special Operations Executive as an office for briefing agents during the Second World War. There are only 55 apartments here, which are either c. 3,800 sqft or 2,800 sqft. The smaller ones, which are positioned at the rear, will cost upward of £6,000,000, and the larger apartments, which are all front facing have sold for up to £12,000,000 (£3,000/sqft). Parking spaces alone, if available, will set you back c. £400,000 and the building has an exclusive policy whereby no apartments can be leased.
The southern side of Portman Square is largely commercial premises, taking you round to the east side, which is occupied by The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill. This hotel was sold in February 1998 by the National Bank of Kuwait to a Qatari consortium, and in 2004 Hyatt Hotels Corporation assumed full management. In 2008, Barrack Obama stayed here the last time he visited London as US president, where he met with Middle-East envoy and local resident Tony Blair.
On the north-west corner, on the other side of Gloucester Place, was Montagu House, built by James Stewart for Elizabeth Montagu. Sadly, the house was demolished by the blitz by an incendiary bomb. Today there is a Radisson Blu Hotel and an extremely popular gated residential development called Portman Towers. Portman Towers comprises of two tower blocks situated, in an unusual for central London, gated complex on the corner of George Street and Gloucester Place. The building offers excellent security and privacy and is extremely popular with Middle Eastern families, with apartments ranging from £2,000,000 up to £7,000,000, and selling up to £2,600/sqft.
Further along George Street, the next square is Montagu Square, probably the most characterful garden square in Marylebone. The square survived any bombing and retains all of it’s original Georgian features. Montagu Square is the only wholly residential garden square in Marylebone, so as one can imagine is highly sought after. Notable residents include The Beatles, who leased the ground and lower ground apartment at number 34. John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived here, which now is probably one of London’s most famous blue plaque addresses. Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix also spent time recording music at number 34. Jaffray Estates are currently marketing the first and second floor maisonette in number 34 for £2,995,000, which boasts high ceilings and direct views into the gardens. The majority of the properties in Montagu Square are 2 or 3 bedroom maisonettes in converted Georgian townhouses, and have sold up to c. £2,400/sqft. Bryanston Square is wider than Montagu, and includes Wetherby Preparatory school, which has a number of royal and celebrity links.Sections of Bryanston Square were re-built after the bombing, now with two large post-war purpose built blocks;Ellerton House on the east side and 33-35 on the west, both buildings offering secure portered living. There are a small handful of houses in either square and, if available, will cost c. £10,000,000.