Today’s buyers may have the upper hand in most parts of the London market, but not, it seems, when it comes to bona fide top-drawer stock in the right location.
In what’s been described as a throwback to the heady days of a bull market, a tale has emerged from Notting Hill that doesn’t really fit with the headlines of falling prices and deserted agency offices.
Two recent super-prime projects by the well-known developer Graham Hedger have just been sold within a week of each other amid a flurry of activity and old-school competitive bidding.
The first had turned an outdated and badly-designed house on Queensdale Place into a “rare gem” measuring some 8,300 square feet, with leisure complex, private parking, and a private garden.
After a few months on the market with interest building pretty steadily, a deal was agreed and contracts issued. A good result all round. Things would take an unexpected turn, however, when the the exclusivity period granted to the purchaser expired…
The very next morning, a Notting Hill local popped round to view the house, loved it, stuck in a bid “comfortably above” the first, and managed to exchange by midnight that same day.
It was no fluke either. Just two days later, another of Hedger’s projects – this time on Lonsdale Road – would be tucked away after provoking a four-way bidding war.
The three-year redevelopment of a former sorting office in collaboration with Warren Todd had delivered a mixed retail (let to Bodyism for a record rent) and clutch of top-end residences in arguably the trendiest spot in all west London. A lateral flat above the retail unit and a family house were both let to corporate tenants, while the biggest piece of the jigsaw was brought to market.
Despite consent being granted for a number of flats at the centre of the site, the developers had decided to go with a “one-off” new-build. It would turn out to be a very good call indeed.
Described at launch as “beyond words”, the Hidden House project had created an 8,000 square foot super-home behind a perfectly discreet façade, with a double-height entrance hall and huge open-plan reception area, along with five bedrooms, a media room, study, gym, wine store and 20-metre pool – one of the biggest to be installed in a private home anywhere in London. Hedger is something of a fitness fanatic and apparently wanted the turn-key home to have a “wellness” USP…
The asking was set at a chunky £22m, but serious interest would soon come in from four separate parties, all of whom went on to offer. The winning bidder was introduced via sub agent Foxtons and ended up agreeing at £3m above, with Knight Frank managing the process. Contracts were exchanged within hours.
Arthur Lintell of Knight Frank, who managed the sale of both properties, told us: “These sales highlight the fact that there are buyers out there looking at the top end of the market that want to move and are simply waiting until they find the property that best suits their needs. Once they do, they are motivated to exchange contracts very quickly which is something that has been very rare over the past year or so.”
Graham Hedger put much of the success down to having the right design team involved from day one and “not compromising on the layout”. He added: “We were lucky enough to have Toby Flannagan working with us on this, who is a brilliant architect that I have worked with extensively for over 20 years. He was able to work with a difficult site and come up with a modern interpretation of a roman villa with a central secluded garden forming the focal point of the extensive ground floor.
“A project as complex as this requires collaboration between all parties. In this case, it meant my construction firm coming in to help to realise the vision I had for the property. We worked with Christina Parker and Jenny Lindsay–Fynn from Decoroom on both houses to apply the finishing touches, turning spectacular sites into homes of the highest quality.
“The key to creating these fantastic houses was having a flexible approach, adjusting to each and every complication quickly and efficiently. I think the interest shown in these properties, the resulting bids and the speed of transaction are reflective of the work that went into creating them. As a marathon runner, I know that once you fall behind, it gets increasingly harder to retake the lead. It pays to be the one with the momentum and that was very much the case in the bidding on both of these properties. The quality of the first property had such an impact on the buyer that they bought the house fully furnished.”
Lintell: “These deals show that if there is something absolutely out of the top drawer, there is no guarantee it will be around for very long. There are clearly people who want to move and it shows faith in Notting Hill and the wider London market that we are seeing buyers competing for assets such as these.”