Signs of capital appreciation
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Goodengate: apartments in a Grade II listed house. Agent: Preston Bennett
Property predictions for the UK in 2011 have varied either side of the zero line. Most agents and landlords expect prices to go up only a little and some predict a small drop in average prices. It is going to be a year of "consolidation", they say, rather than "growth"(agent-speak for boom) or "rationalisation" (agent-speak for bust).
Look more closely at the research and you will find that north-west London and south Hertfordshire have a rosier future than the rest of the country, according to agents.
Trevor Abrahmsohn of Glentree International says that London will fare better than the rest of the country, particularly the Midlands and North. He predicts that prices will ease up to five per cent in 2011, compared to a consensus figure of zero to three per cent in the rest of the country.
"International buyers tempted by favourable exchange rates (particularly in the Euro Zone) will continue to buy property in London in particular, as the last bastion of safety and security in the world," says Mr Abrahmsohn.
"We think that the positives outweigh the negatives and, contrary to the pundits' belief, the property sector - certainly in London - will fare far better in the period from autumn 2009 to the first six months of 2011. There are no wholesale redundancies in London to speak of and not much talk of compulsory redundancies elsewhere to frighten the horses.
"We could be set for a better outcome than one would have ever predicted given the dire state of the budget deficit and the UK could well do better than most other international countries, including the USA."
Meanwhile, the 30 agents who own the north-west London property website FabricProperty.com agree that Belsize Park, Hampstead, Islington, Maida Vale, Primrose Hill and St John's Wood have been protected from much of the predicted economic meltdown, thanks to the desirability of living in the capital, especially for international buyers.
"What will always be in our favour and what will define the 2011 market and beyond is the fact that wealthy overseas buyers regard London as a key place in which to own a property. More so than any other part of the UK, it is London that attracts foreign investment," says Marc Schneiderman, managing drector of Arlington Residential. "The middle and top end of the north and north-west London market is a little like a bubble within the general nationwide property market. We are much less affected and much more cushioned from the harshness of the economic climate than other locations.
"The psychology of buyers in 2011 will play a major part in how the year shapes up. Although values have come back, buyers will continue to negotiate hard and will be very mindful not to overpay, so realistic pricing and a willingness from sellers to be flexible is a must."
A common theme among agents is the limited supply of stock and its effect on pricing. "The new year will continue to see the demand for good-quality properties outstripping supply in desirable areas. Even as 2010 drew to a close and the market quietened, we were still receiving multiple offers on properties above asking prices. I think 2011 will continue with this trend, but any significant house price rises will be a result of demand in specific streets, rather than general market rises across the area," says Tom Gladwin, managing director of Parkheath.
This is all good news for desirable properties such as Goodengate in Stanmore. Once the home of surgeon, William Rogers, he extended his "brewhouse and coachhouse" in 1812 into what is now a stucco 19th century grade II listed house in a quiet cul-de-sac off Stanmore Hill. It has an impressive façade with a large central porch flanked by fluted Doric columns.
The home has been converted into four apartments and Preston Bennett is offering a first- and second-floor two-bedroom duplex apartment at £349,950 leasehold.
The house still retains many period features, including an early Regency staircase - leading from the communal entrance hall - and a skylight in the style of Sir John Soane on the first floor landing, from where this apartment is accessed.