Return of the rich?

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Matthew Smith, Partner and Office Head at Knight Frank Riverside wonders whether the buyer/seller market is shifting to a more even keel.

Being fortunate enough to cover a linear area spanning Hammersmith Bridge to Tower Bridge, I have the great advantage of a massive range of property, local amenities and attractions. With this comes a distinct range of micro markets.

As a seller of riverside property, it is essential to be an expert on all types of property, from houseboats to skyscrapers. What has become clear in the current market is that there is a widening gap between the established and the latest developments, with the former proving to offer great value and the latter offering the latest interiors and tech, as well as increasingly luxurious, onsite amenities. These don’t come cheap, but they do seem to be increasingly sought after, even with sometimes eye watering service charges.

What never ceases to amaze me is the dramatic change that I have seen to the London skyline in my 11 years with Knight Frank Riverside, much of which has been on the banks of the Thames.

While there is no question that London is less attractive now to investor landlords than in the past, with slower capital growth and less attractive tax benefits, investors still buy on the river. Our lettings departments is one of the busiest at Knight Frank, as tenants love to rent in the latest building and enjoy the slick, easy lifestyle that modern flats offer.

My market has a generous demographic of baby boomer downsizers, millennials, and busy professionals, who enjoy the ease of modern lifestyle developments. Bankers, tech millionaires and media moguls do enjoy a trophy penthouse, which is a market that might be slow moving, but when a buyer asks for best in class penthouses, we have superb choice.

We have recently seen a clear return of buyers above £3,000,000 for the first time in two years and this part of the market is finally gaining momentum. This is because the prices have reduced significantly over the last 18-24 months and buyers are able to see value. Those that have been sitting on their hands have saved money but what’s interesting is that long standing instructions are selling, buyers are realising they can’t wait too long or they will miss out. Some urgency has returned to the market. Could this mean the buyer/seller market is shifting to a more even keel?


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