The aristocratic Mayfair neighborhood is regaining its status as one of the most desirable addresses in London, according to a new report by real estate agent Knight Frank.
The west central London district, sandwiched between Hyde Park, Regent Street, Oxford Street and Piccadilly, has outperformed other prime central London property markets despite cooling demand in the English capital for £1 million-plus homes.
The U.K. government’s introduction at the end of 2014 of a stamp duty of 12% on homes worth more than £1.5 million curbed high-end transaction levels. Sales volume was down 19.5% in prime central London in the first half of 2015 compared with 2014.
In Mayfair, however, transactions fell just 0.9% over the same period, much less than the decline of 27% in Knightsbridge, 37% in Chelsea and 6% in Marylebone and Kensington.
Meanwhile over the past year property price growth in Mayfair has exceeded most other prime central London districts, with values rising 3% between December 2014 and December 2015 compared with 1% across the whole of prime central London. Prices declined by 6.1% in Knightsbridge and 2.7% in Chelsea.
This is being fueled in part by a growing number of new developments in the area, believes Richard Cutt, a partner in Knight Frank’s prime central London team, which he calls “some of the very best residential schemes in London.”
Mayfair had seen virtually no new residential construction in the last 15 to 20 years, but change has begun in earnest as many office and commercial properties are turned into residential.
Developments include Clarges Mayfair with 34 apartments overlooking Green Park, designed by architects Squire & Partners, and 77 South Audley Street, whose penthouse was sold last year for the record price of £7,000 per square foot. Also, 20 Grosvenor Square, which Lindsey Webb, of buying agency Prime Purchase, calls “the jewel in the crown.” She adds that it's “bringing the fully serviced, uber luxury experience of, say, One Hyde Park [where you will find London’s most expensive apartments] to Mayfair”.
“This change will also continue with the redevelopment of the American Embassy expected, at least in part, to be a luxury hotel as well as other prime sites. And while public transport is not a big pull at the very top of the market, the rest will also likely be buoyed by a new Crossrail connection at Bond Street, linking Mayfair to Heathrow in under half an hour,” says Webb.
Mayfair, which has 29 Michelin-starred restaurants—almost three times more than any other residential district in London—and 44 five-star hotels, including The Ritz, The Dorchester and Claridge’s, is also increasingly popular with international buyers. Since 2013, the rentals side of Knight Frank’s business has agreed to deals with tenants of 39 different nationalities.
“One of its appeals, especially to international buyers, is that it is effectively a one-stop shop”, says Webb.
“You can arrive and need barely leave the super-prime square mile" and Mount Street has transformed “from a sleepy street of antique shops and very traditional stores into one of the most fashionable addresses in London,” says Webb.
Brands including Celine, Louboutin and Lanvin have opened stores, as have artisan tailors, gentleman’s clothing brands, and independent art galleries, leading Conde Nast Traveler last month to label Mayfair “London’s coolest neighborhood.”
Rory McGougan is director of Hanover Private Office, which offers property and asset management services for the ultra wealthy. “The Mayfair renaissance” has been pushing up value in the area steadily over the last decade, he says.
“Mayfair has always been desirable, but it has excelled where others have slowed because it is still changing,” says McGougan.
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