Posted 6 February 2015 by Keith Osborne
Marc Da Silva continues his ongoing series of exclusive interviews with leading figures from the UK property industry by putting the questions to Andrew Ellinas, director of estate agency Sandfords.
Please give us a brief introduction to your company and the area in which you operate?
Sandfords specialises in the sale, rental and acquisition of prime residential property in central and northwest London, most notably, in the Regent’s Park, Marylebone, St John’s Wood, Primrose Hill and Little Venice areas.
What types of properties do you sell and let?
You can find a very diverse selection of properties in the areas we operate from beautiful Nash terraced houses in Regent’s Park to stately Georgian homes in Marylebone to large detached Victorian homes in Primrose Hill. There is a real cross-section of properties which makes this part of the capital such a desired destination for so many buyers and renters from all over the globe.
What is the property market currently like in your area?
We are entering into the crucial quarter before a general election, so naturally this uncertainty has an impact on homeowner sentiment. Those that have a need to move right away are leaning more heavily on advice from their agent on market conditions and then pricing accordingly, with success. Others, as is typical of a pre-election market, are awaiting political certainty before making a move.
However, regardless of which party comes into power, the market will surge once again following the result, but the decision will have implications on the subsequent level of that demand. Fortunately, the London market is one of the most robust, which is reassuring for homeowners.
How much do properties typically cost to buy and rent?
As you would expect it is very dependent on which area and road you are looking at but as a guide a one-bedroom apartment to buy is currently sitting between the £500,000-£750,000 mark. Prices then escalate upwards, starting from £1m for a two-bedroom apartment and £2m-plus for a three-bedroom apartment. In Regent’s Park however, for a three-bedroom apartment in a Nash terrace, prices would start from £3.5m and, at the very top end of the market, £10m-£25m for a house in the Crown Estate.
To rent, prices start from around £350 per week for a one-bedroom apartment but can go up to approximately £800 depending on the location and condition of the property. Houses can demand anything up to around £3,000 per week.
Are there any particular areas in which investors should be looking to buy property?
My view is that prices will rise after the election so it’s the perfect time for investors to capitalise at the moment. Areas like Marylebone are not just recognised locally as an attractive place to buy anymore. There is now global attraction from buyers who appreciate its central location and village atmosphere. Having said that, there are certain little pockets that are still yet to be discovered by international buyers including properties around Dorset Square, and also in Fitzrovia, the area east of Marylebone, particularly parts close to Charlotte Street.
Celebrities are also drawn to Marylebone with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reported to be looking at houses here, and many more come to visit the newest hot celebrity haunt the Chiltern Firehouse. All this plus its amazing shopping facilities with many beautiful boutiques and superb eateries make it a great and safe place to invest.
What do you expect to see happen in the local property market during 2015?
Despite pre-election jitters, buyers are still in the market, especially from abroad, and sensibly-valued properties in good condition are selling well at the moment. At the very top end of the market in areas such as Regent’s Park activity levels have in fact remained strong, and will continue in this vein throughout 2015.
The next couple of months will be the real test for the new stamp duty system to see what affect it will really have in London; following this we have the general election which may dampen the market. A lot has happened in the industry recently, amidst much speculation, with possible change to come and this brings with it an element of caution that is never good for the property market.
There is always a pause before an election. Post-election, pent-up demand, where people have waited to see the outcome, will spark additional movement. It doesn’t matter which government is voted in, but it does have implications on how strong that demand will be according to the decisions made. I am confident that the market will bounce back after the election and the long-term prospects for the prime central London property market are excellent.