Updated property list

We are delighted to have achieved a number of important property sales for clients and to be trusted with selling further property for them.

We hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to 2014.

Please follow the link for our updated London property list: January 2014 list

We look forward to working with you.

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Foreign buyers of British homes up by 40pc

More than two million foreign investors own UK property for the first time, according to analysis of data from HM Revenue & Customs.

Research by accountancy UHY Hacker Young also showed there was a surge of around 110,000 new buyers in the most recent year for which the figures were collated.

It meant the total rose 6pc from 1.93m to 2.04m between 2011 and 2012.

The increase over five years was 39pc increase in the number of overseas landlords, climbing from 1.46 million in 2006.

Huge numbers of homes in central London in particular have been bought as long-term investments by wealthy foreigners and expats in recent years. London is seen as a safe haven by investors, who have driven a boom in prices.

The house price boom, in which house prices in London have shot up 9.4pc over the past year, is expected to continue in the coming years. Analysts at Knight Frank have forecast a 24pc rise in the value of UK house prices by 2018.

Mark Giddens, of UHY Hacker Young, said: “The UK economy is one of the world’s most liquid, and UK property is seen globally as a safe haven from the effects of a financial crash or from national governments’ interference in the assets of private individuals.

“That has driven fierce demand for prime property in London and the South East in particular.”

But the high levels of demand from overseas investors could cool next year, argue UHY Hacker Young. This is because earlier this month the Government announced that foreign investors will have to pay capital gains tax when they sell homes in the UK from April 2015.

Previously overseas investors did not have to pay tax on the profits they made from British homes. The Government is expecting to rake in £125m from the “oligarch tax” between 2015 and 2019.

The rule change makes UK property a less attractive investment option for overseas investors, who have been blamed for helping to push property prices to record highs and taking home-ownership out of the reach of many UK workers.

“While the Treasury has already increased its tax take on foreign-owned properties in recent years, from £230m in 2007 to £379m last year, it is now looking to ensure that it gets an even greater share of the substantial revenue generated by London’s high end property market,” said Mr Giddens.

Source: The Telegraph

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Canary Wharf plots new tech neighbourhood

CANARY Wharf Group submitted revised plans yesterday to expand its east London estate by building more than 3,000 homes, shops and offices that will target fast-growing media and technology firms.

New Wood Wharf is a 20-acre semi-derelict site that was previously used for shipping and storage of timber and is about a third of the size of the main skyscraper district to the west.

The new masterplan, which includes a 57-storey luxury tower as well as affordable homes and two parks, will mark the first major residential development for the business-focused area.

The scheme will also offer 2.57m square feet of new offices, which Canary Wharf hopes will attract more creative media and technology companies to reduce its reliance on the financial sector, which has reduced its requirements for new office space since the crisis.

Sir George Iacobescu said the move towards residential was a “reflection of the demand” in the market.

“[It] is an opportunity for us to further expand the appeal of Canary Wharf by creating a new and exciting mixed use neighbourhood at Wood Wharf which will offer greater diversity and amenity and a richer urban fabric for the fast emerging City Centre of Canary Wharf,” he said.

Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of 2014, with the first buildings completed in 2017.

Source: CityAM

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Great Portland Estates offloads 20 St James’s Street for £54.5m

Great Portland won planning consent in 2012 but has decided to sell after strong interest

GREAT Portland Estates has sold a prime West End site between Piccadilly and St James’s Park to a German pension fund managed by US property investor Pramerica for £54.5m.

Chief executive Toby Courtauld said yesterday that the group had originally planned to refurbish the building in 2015 to exploit the lack of new space in the West End.

However, it decided to sell 20 St James’s Street after receiving strong interest in the 1930s building, which it acquired in 2010 for £42.5m. “As a consequence of a strong off-market approach, it made financial sense for us to sell the property now and invest the proceeds into other schemes in our exceptional development programme”, Courtauld said.

The 55,490 sq ft property is partially let to seven tenants including media group Ocean Outdoor and retail cigar merchant James Fox, producing a net rent of £1.2m a year.

The deal reflects a net initial yield of 2.1 per cent.

Source: CityAM

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London house prices barely slowing in 2014

HOUSE prices in the capital will continue to soar next year, rising by up to seven per cent, estate agent Marsh and Parsons predicted yesterday.

The agency has 18 buyers on its books for every prime London property, well up on the 13.5 a year ago and a level which will keep the market rising.

The improving economy and falling unemployment combined with government support for mortgages will keep the market going further, the forecast said.

However, next year’s growth of between five and seven per cent is down from the 10.5 per cent rise in prices seen this year.

Most of 2014’s rise in prices will come in the first half of the year, the agency forecasts, before slowing a touch.

“London’s housing market saw a substantial uplift in 2013, and we expect a similarly strong start in 2014 to drive an annual rise in prices – but these won’t be as spectacular as last year,” said Marsh and Parsons’ Peter Rollings.

“With ongoing support from Government initiatives, the rate of growth will remain sustainable. Following improvements in unemployment levels, we’re likely to see modest increases in interest rates next year.”

As well as a lack of building, one key factor stopping houses coming to market is their own owners’ fear the fast market will make it difficult for them to move to a new home.

Meanwhile the Bank of England said the stock of residential loans – largely mortgages – increased by £6.5bn in the third quarter compared with the same period of 2013 to £1.23 trillion.

New mortgage loans hit £49.5bn in the quarter, up 25 per cent on the year.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney last month ended the Funding for Lending Scheme support for mortgages, removing the cheap funding for bank lending.

He said the funding problems in the sector which prompted the scheme’s launch in 2012 are now solved.

Source: CityAM

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CGT exemption rules clarified by Treasury

HOMEOWNERS selling a property in which they previously lived will be given until April 2015 to complete the sale before they must pay capital gains tax on the property, the Treasury confirmed yesterday.

The news comes after George Osborne announced in the Autumn Statement last week that the tax-free period for people letting their former home will be slashed from three years to just 18 months.

The Treasury clarified yesterday that people will have until April 2014 to exchange contracts but until April 2015 to complete, a move it said will “make the tax system fairer”.

PwC tax partner Alison Hill said: “Disabled people and those moving into care homes will be relieved that they still have three years’ capital gains exemption on second homes… Others won’t be as fortunate and people affected may include those getting divorced or who are having trouble selling their old home.”

Source: CityAM

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Capco’s Covent Garden scheme wins approval

CAPITAL & Counties (Capco) was given the go-ahead by Westminster Council yesterday to build a leisure and residential scheme connecting two of Covent Garden’s busiest shopping areas.

The developer wants to transform the space between King Street and Floral Street within its £1.1bn Covent Garden estate, creating a new public courtyard overlooked by eight shops, two restaurants and 45 luxury flats.

The 90,000 square feet project will also create a new pedestrian passageway connecting Covent Garden’s main high street Long Acre with King Street, which leads onto the market.

Capco has also separately won consent to turn the Grade II-listed Carriage Hall building on the western end of Floral Street into a 13,000 sq ft retail space with a covered courtyard.

Capco has been sprucing up its Covent Garden estate, attracting trendy restaurants and retailers including Apple, Dior, and more recently the American burger chain Shake Shack.

It has also converted several offices into flats, joining other commercial property developers looking to cash in on strong demand for high-end housing in the capital and rising prices.

Chief executive Ian Hawksworth, said: “These plans will have a significant impact on how visitors experience Covent Garden and highlight Capco’s commitment….to improving public access within our estate.”

 Source: CityAM
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First time buyer surge adds to market uplift

THE NUMBER of first time buyers has surged by three quarters over the past year, as a surge of activity in the housing market pushes prices even higher, especially in London.

Estate agents Haart reveal today that, the number of first time buyer registrations has risen 78.4 per cent in November 2013, compared to the same month last year.

In London, the figure is even more dramatic, with an 87.5 per cent boost in the number of people getting their foot on the property ladder for the first time.

Both Haart and property site Zoopla say that average house prices in the UK have risen by over £10,000 during this year, soaring way ahead of growth in typical wages.

According to Zoopla, in the capital an average house now costs are £46,398 more than in November 2012, passing above £500,000 earlier this year.

However, research by the site shows some dramatic variations regionally: based on its own figures, the website suggests that the average price of a property in Yorkshire and the Humber has dipped slightly in the past year, down by 0.37 per cent.

However, every other region in the UK saw some growth in prices over the past year.

Paul Smith, chief executive of Haart, commented: “High demand in relation to supply remains problematic with new buyer registrations up 39.9 per cent annually but new property supply up only 4.7 per cent. Let’s see if the chancellors; commitment to pump £1bn into infrastructure to unlock construction projects comes off and alleviates the crippling shortage of property supply.”

Zoopla’s head, Lawrence Hall, added that there could be even stronger house price growth during the next year, with government schemes like Help to Buy coming into full swing and general confidence rising.

Source: City AM

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Britain to tax foreign property investors from 2015

By Brenda Goh for Reuters

Britain will impose capital gains tax on foreign investors selling homes that are not their primary residence from 2015, finance minister George Osborne said on Thursday as the government moved to curb soaring house prices in London.

“It’s not right that those who live in this country pay capital gains tax when they sell a home that is not their primary residence – while those who don’t live here do not,” Osborne said in a twice-yearly budget statement to parliament.

“That is unfair. From April 2015, we will introduce capital gains tax on future gains made by non-residents who sell residential property here in the UK.”

Britons pay capital gains tax – typically at 28 percent – on any profit from selling property that is not considered their primary residence.

Property prices in London have jumped by about 10 percent in the last 12 months and increases in some parts of the capital have been greater, driven by demand from foreign investors hunting for a second home or wanting to tie their cash in the safe haven of London.

About 70 percent of newly built properties across central London are bought by foreign investors, according to Savills , while 30 percent of luxury London homes worth 1 million pounds or more were bought by non-UK residents in the year to June, consultancy Knight Frank said.

Developers that have benefitted or are looking to cash in on this trend include Berkeley and Barratt Developments , who have built thousands of homes in London, as well as British Land and Land Securities that have recently entered the luxury housing market.

“This shows that the government is worried about a London housing bubble, and it is vital that the extra funds raised from overseas investors will be ploughed back into genuinely affordable housing for people on low incomes,” said Paul Hackett, director of left-leaning think tank The Smith Institute.

Property industry players said the implementation of the tax sent the wrong signals to overseas investors, who they say have helped support the city’s rental market. However, they said it would likely only have a marginal impact on demand and pricing as investors came to London for other reasons such as political stability.

“The introduction of this tax may provide the wrong signals to overseas investors, and be seen to discourage their investment into UK property,” said CBRE’s head of residential research, Jennet Siebrits.

“However, while it might cause some disruption at the time of implementation, we do not believe this will have a substantial long-term detrimental effect on the wider residential market.”

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