New Homes Market – Year End 2013

PRE-SALES DOMINATE

One of the trends that marked out 2013 as an exceptional year, was the volume of sales agreed off-plan against the development pipeline across Central London and including Midtown, City and Docklands.

With strong domestic and overseas interest in new homes, developers and agents adopted a range of marketing strategies in order to secure pre-sales at record prices and thereby ‘de-risk’ their developments.

 

01ROMAN HOUSE, WOOD STREET EC2

Contrary to popular perceptions, UK purchasers were an important part of this scene, with large numbers attending the wave of new homes launches offered off plan in marketing suites and show homes across Midtown, City and Docklands. Meanwhile, overseas buyers were active in large numbers at weekly exhibitions in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of buyers both in the UK and overseas were buy-to-let investors looking for long term growth and prepared to buy high quality apartments in 2013 for completions that stretch through to 2017.

The net result was that developers had an exceptional year exchanging contracts on projects that completed not only in 2013, but also a large percentage of developments not due for completion until 2014, 2015 or 2016. Our records show that 80% of new homes sales were made to investors and it is expected that the majority of these apartments will be passed over to the rental market on completion.

It is not the case that new apartment blocks in Midtown, City and Docklands are left empty by overseas purchasers unlike One Hyde Park which is regularly held up in the press as an example of investor activity damaging communities and street vitality. Apartments purchased in our areas are occupied by their owners or by tenants and investment activity in these markets helps to ease demand for housing in central London.

Help to Buy did however play an indirect role in bolstering confidence in the UK markets. Several national house-builders have posted substantial uplifts in sales and profits following the launch of Help to Buy and anticipate far higher volumes in 2014. Reports of rising residential prices tend to prompt caution amongst UK buyers, who might hold back until the indicators are stable but for overseas buyers, evidence of rising prices offers reassurance and encourages further investment into the UK.

Thus, overseas sales were stronger in 2013 than in 2012 and the number of overseas property exhibitions proliferated.

The Government’s Help to Buy scheme played no part in any of our new homes development sales in 2013, partly due to the £600,000 price limit, partly due the larger deposits off plan investor-purchasers tend to put down and also the fact that there is still a lack of mortgage products available to UK off-plan purchasers.

The net result is that record numbers of new homes have been delivered in 2013 but very few owner occupiers have benefitted from London’s current building boom. There is therefore no end to the acute shortage of homes being offered for sale across central London and this will in our opinion only lead to higher prices being asked and being achieved in 2014.

The pricing of new homes across our area reflect global demand for residential property in central London and therefore national price and affordability indices linked to UK salaries, interest rates or GDP have less bearing on price than currency rates, UK tax policies for overseas purchasers and confidence in the UK political climate. (See investment section)

Lower gross rental returns of between 3.5% and 4.5% in 2013, have not dented demand from UK or overseas investors, who continue to see residential property in Central London as a long term investment.

 

02BLOOMSBURY GARDENS, BLOOMSBURY WC1

NEW DEVELOPMENTS

The flow of developments in 2013 fell broadly into two major hubs at Aldgate E1 and City Road EC1. Here, we describe some of the launch highlights of the second half of 2013.

The Eagle, City Road EC1 by Mount Anvil which launched in the UK on 19th September with approximately 40 sales to add to the 71 sales achieved earlier in the year. A combination of well planned and designed apartments, great onsite facilities and an impressive marketing suite assisted the sales rate where prices averaged £1,050/sqft. Completion of the 206 private apartments is not expected until 2015.

At Folio, Micawber Street N1 all but 2 of the 68 units were sold by Nottinghill London in the second half of 2013 following a UK launch in July. In November a limited collection of town houses was launched. Completion is expected in January 2014. Prices average £795psf.

Banyan Wharf, Wenlock Road N1 on the site of the former Ponti’s distribution warehouse was launched off plan by Regal Homes this year and all 33 private apartments were sold off plan in the Far East at prices averaging £1,000psf.

Also on City Road, EC1 Canelletto was launched by Groveworld on 12th October supported by an extensive advertising campaign in the UK. Completion is not due until the end of 2015.

04ROYAL MINT GARDENS, ALDGATE E1

Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong. A stunning 240 out of 250 apartments were sold at prices reported to have been approaching £1,100psf with completions not expected until 2017. This development demonstrates the global nature of London residential market as this was IJL Lands first London development and attracted a loyal following of Malaysian buyers who had no hesitation in buying a London apartment 4 year s before completion from a reputable Malaysian development company.

At Aldgate Redrow had secured 117out of a total of 137 sales at One Commercial Street E1 with completions expected early in 2014. Barratts have sold 80% of Altitude, Ailie Street and Berkeley Homes have secured over 200 off plan sales at Goodmans Fields, Lehman Street.

In Midtown the second phase of Bloomsbury Gardens WC1 was launched in the UK by Crest Nicholson on Wednesday 18th September with one bedroom apartment overlooking St Georges Gardens breaking records for WC1 by achieving between £700,000 and £780,000. By the end of the year, three quarters of the 44 apartments had been sold.

At Fitzroy Place W1 on the site of the former Middlesex Hospital only 14 of the 235 apartments by Exemplar were unsold at the end of the year with completion not until the end of 2014. The second phase of Ridgefords Fitzrovia Apartments has also sold well only 3 apartments out of a total of 70 unsold at the end of the year.

Also in Midtown at Kings Cross, the developer Argent launched The Tapestry Building N1C with 90% of the 95 apartments sold off plan in 2013 following on from their success Arthouse where 114 apartments were sold off plan.

Baltimore Wharf, South Quay, Canary Wharf, E14 is a new 46 storey twisting tower, where Galliard has sold 290 of the 300 apartments off-plan within 6 months averaging £843psf. It was reported that 50% of the sales were achieved in the Far East. Completion is expected in the summer of 2016.

David Salvi

Director - Agency & Marketing
020 7250 1012

David oversees the Company residential agency departments and specialises in bespoke marketing and PR campaigns for new developments and individual properties. He is an authority on the London Property Market, regularly quoted by the national press. He heads the research side of the agency which provides detailed analysis of current market trends, sub market activity and the planning pipeline as well as trend markets.