Knight Frank’s former Global Head of Residential, Lord Andrew Hay, joined super-prime property developer Lodha UK at the end of 2020, having completed a 1,000km solo trek for charity earlier in the year.
He’s now advising Lodha on its high-profile luxury Central London schemes, including No.1 Grosvenor Square, Lincoln Square, and Holland Park Gate.
With nearly 40 years at KF under his belt (including heading both UK Residential and Global Residential teams since 2012), and now with a developer’s perspective, very few people have as much experience or insight into the prime residential world as Lord Hay.
Here, in an exclusive article for PrimeResi, he explores the key trends and challenges facing the top-end of London’s property market, taking a bullish stance on super-prime prospects in the capital – and particularly on Grosvenor Square.
Why did I decide on Lodha UK?
I have been lucky in my previous role of Global Head of Residential at Knight Frank to work with and see the best super-prime schemes from NYC to Sydney. During the last decade I got to know Lodha UK and Abhishek Lodha and was impressed by what Lodha UK has achieved from a standing start in London – via its No.1 Grosvenor Square and Lincoln Square developments, and forthcoming offering in Holland Park Gate.
When the Lodha UK team approached me, they shared a very strong growth plan for the coming years and their values felt closely aligned with my own. I am excited to be a part of what will be a great journey.
What trends do I foresee for the coming year?
We do expect a lull in activity whilst Lockdown 3 continues. However, it’s not all doom and gloom – we are accumulating growing enquiries from both UK and global buyers who are fully committed to buying in 2021, and we expect a surge of activity post-lockdown as the domestic market opens first, and then international travel corridors reopen, taking advantage of the UK’s very successful vaccine rollout.
1. 2021 trends at Lodha UK
From a Lodha UK perspective, our latest development No.1 Grosvenor Square is uniquely positioned. There is much happening on site as we look forward to the opening of the superb Health Club and pool, coupled with the unveiling of several new stunning on-site show apartments shortly after Easter. This month will also see the completion of the formation of our market-leading, in-house hospitality and management subsidiary “Saint Amand”. The Saint Amand team will provide residents with the very best 24-hour service and care whilst staying in their Mayfair home. At Lodha UK, we pride ourselves on working with industry leaders, from design, architecture and hospitality, which is why we made the decision to launch an in-house hospitality service rather than outsourcing to external management agencies. This allows us to maintain an exacting and unrivalled standard – something I am very passionate about.
Having these residencies open for the first time in the spring is perfect timing. London’s most beautiful and elegant scheme will be coming to market as the super prime market reopens. I genuinely believe that No.1 Grosvenor Square will be in pole position and therefore is certainly one to watch.
2. City living for businesspeople
We are seeing a shift to the country reversing a decade of a reverse flow back to the centre of the city. However, the numbers are small in overall population terms, and aren’t as pertinent for our global market.
What is more interesting to us is global financiers and businesspeople are moving away from staying in luxurious city centre hotels. They are instead looking at acquiring the best apartment in the heart of the city, supported by superb facilities and impeccable service. We go above and beyond this offering at No.1 Grosvenor Square, thanks to the brilliant concierge team run by Simon Hirst – a faultless General Manager with a background within the world’s leading hotels.
3. Health & wellness
Wellness is here to stay, as is the need to be able to comfortably work (and school) from home for part of the week. Large, lateral floor layouts with generous circulation areas to accommodate a family with ease are most certainly a must.
Lodha UK is very focused on creating not just a comfortable and safe environment but also one that captures the mind and senses. For some time now, our goal has been to provide a sanctuary for family life. We’ve paired this with Saint Amand’s impeccable in-house team of 30-strong hospitality professionals that provide residents with a 6* service, and an unrivalled wellness floor, which has been designed to exacting standards, with a focus on quality, tranquillity and privacy. Our buyers approach us knowing we have considered their needs -so our residents can truly focus on their wellbeing in the calmest of environments. This will be “luxurious” for 2021 and beyond.
4. Location is still key
The greatest future luxury for the super-rich in the future will be “privacy”
Location, location, location is a lasting real estate mantra. This has never been truer when people are time poor, wish to avoid public transport and enjoy all the best members’ clubs, gyms, shops and restaurants that London has to offer. No.1 Grosvenor Square sits within the epicentre of the best of London, with everything you could need within a ten-minute stroll.
As Knight Frank reported three years ago, the greatest future luxury for the super-rich in the future will be “privacy”. No.1 Grosvenor Square plays strongly to this desire for discretion – the street scene onto the beautiful square is subtle and the gated drive in and drop off area off Grosvenor Street is private, secure and low-key, yet still elegantly designed.
5. International interest remains strong in London
Brexit appears to have created a moment of opportunity for many
Although still early days, Brexit appears to have created a moment of opportunity for many as they sense UK Prime Central London may offer some unique commercial advantages – whilst the excellent education system also remains attractive to families from around the globe. Records show London continues to attract buyers from over 70 countries, making it truly a cosmopolitan city. Significantly, enquiries at over £10 million are up 109% year on year.
A changing political and fiscal landscape in the US is yet to translate into a global trend for international real estate buyers. However, it is no coincidence we have seen an unusually strong growth of US interest in No.1 Grosvenor Square. Perhaps this is due to the longstanding US footprint in the square (before becoming the Canadian High Commission, the building housed the US Embassy).
The choice for Asian buyers (post Chinese New Year and L3) will be a pivotal moment. Traditionally, they have chosen between the US and UK for both education and investment. Australia has also been an important third choice but recent political tension between Beijing and Canberra subdued the flow of buyers here. We believe the UK and Prime Central London will be at the top of the Asian investor’s potential locations for the foreseeable future.
Mayfair has for many years been the focal point of where global families feel most at home in London. With the No.1 Grosvenor Square scheme, we’ve seen how it has struck a chord with a slightly different international client base, with global financiers, businesspeople and entrepreneurs who have interests in several continents choosing to focus the majority of both their business and family time in London. We’ve also seen a growth from “tech-preneurs” who will bring a new sense of dynamism to the area.
Lodha UK dedicate considerable thought and care in understanding future trends, as well as the lifestyles and rapidly changing demands of global families and their values.
Lodha UK also looks carefully at their buyers’ needs – whether physical, practical or emotional. Naturally this starts with creating beautifully designed spaces that reflect how families live, with a focus on understated style and high-quality finishes. Knowing your potential buyer and understanding their needs is crucial in creating legacy projects.