With a limited amount of yearly sales in Mayfair, it is interesting to note the competition in the market place - Wetherell specialise in the Mayfair area but there are between ten to fifteen estate agents who operate in and around the area. Each of the agents would therefore need to compete for an average of between two and three properties sold per week!
This is obviously non-sustainable and most of the agents deal in the wider surrounding areas to supplement their sales targets
Wetherell are the only specialist agent to deal solely in the area and maintains its market share, through longevity in the market, reputation, market knowledge and, of course, performance with satisfactory selling results.
A high percentage of our business is derived from repeat business and recommendation.
HIGHS AND LOWS
The cheapest flat sold in the area in 2002 was a studio in Shepherd Market for £195,000 and in the heart of “Mayfair Village” a one bedroom flat was sold by Wetherell overlooking Harry’s Bar and South Audley Street, at £275,000 on a 37 year lease.
The most expensive sale was the Penthouse maisonette in Gloucester House above the Hard Rock restaurant and overlooking Green Park, which sold for £8.5 million equating to over £1,300 per square foot.
The cheapest house was sold off Berkeley Square in Grosvenor Hill for £835,000 and the most expensive on a £ per square foot basis was, as previously mentioned, in Charles Street on an asking price of £12.5 million. Two “off the market” sales took place on substantial mansion houses at £15million and £20 million and a further large house in Lees Place sold at £8 million showing the strength at the top end of the market.
Other highlights of the year showed a number of sales in Mount Street at figures up to £850 per square foot, with a special 2 bedroom flat overlooking Mount Street Gardens decorated by Colefax and Fowler which sold for a record £825,000 for a 33 year lease equated to over £1,000 per square foot for a flat overlooking the gardens, assuming a long lease basis.
This rate per square foot was also highlighted by a sale of a flat by Wetherell in South Street, being a lateral conversion of 2,000 square feet on the first floor overlooking Mount Street Gardens, which sold on a long lease for £2 million, again equating to £1,000 per square foot.
THE LETTING MARKET
2002 saw a harder market for rentals in the Mayfair area with the reduction of overseas companies renting in the area. Wetherell saw an increase in the amount of corporate tenants who were not renewing their tenancy agreements for a further year.
The main rental levels were however maintained and in some cases were increased if the flats were of contempary design as opposed to traditional décor. Two examples of this were two 1 bedroom flats in Mount Street, both decorated to a very high contemporary finish and subsequently let at £650 and £700 per week.
CONCLUSION ON 2002
Returning to our opening paragraph with its wine theme, 2002 could be likened to a strong opening for the year with a calm but smooth summer and a strong finish prior to Christmas.
All in all not a vintage year, but one certainly to celebrate for record breaking sales and rental values.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2003 -
CONFLICTING MARKET REPORTS
Public interest in the housing market is almost at fever pitch – although it is hardly surprising given the conflicting market reports and comments for the year ahead.
Of course a cynic may say that the best barometer for the housing market is the number of TV programmes relating to housing (whether buying, moving, home improvement etc.) and that the number of such programmes increases in line with the market.
Whilst some ‘pundits’ have sensationally stated that house prices would drop by 30% over the next 18 months or so, such comments have been met with near derision – the two most respected oracles, The Halifax & The Nationwide Building Society predict that in 2003 house prices nationally will grow at 9% & 10% respectively, with Central London prices rising 5%.
BANK OF ENGLAND'S MARKET VIEW
Indeed, Sir Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in the first week of January predicted that the rate of increase in house prices would "moderate quite sharply" but prices would not generally fall. "I don't think there is a general perception that there will be a sharp crash in house prices.” Consumer spending would slow down, he said, but interest rates were likely to stay near their current level of four per cent.
Subsequent to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting in January, interest rates did stay at 4%, the longest period of stable interest rates (14 months) in more than four decades.
The national averages and statistics do not necessarily apply to Mayfair, a niche market. It is accepted that the forces behind the housing market are income, wealth, interest rates and housing supply. It is the latter which is the principle motor in driving the local Mayfair market.
If Mayfair vendors do not realise the price they seek, then they will simply not sell; Mayfair residents are not of the sell-at-any-price variety.
The consensus is that there will not be a fall in local property prices. Last years house price inflation of circa 20% may slow to single figure growth but this will be countered in Mayfair with some exceptional developments coming to market throughout 2003.
The Royal Bank of Scotland is launching a new development of flats over the old Coutts & Co bank on the corner of Old Park Lane and Piccadilly. The block over the Curzon Cinema is being developed as large apartments and a brand new development in Davies Street, off Berkeley Square, comprising 12 apartments and 2 penthouses will being coming to the market in 2003. Also a number of other units all to a very high standard will be launched in the area this year.
If the market is, as we stated, supply led, then 2003 will be a proving time for the Mayfair market. Wetherell feel that the new stock will be eagerly snapped up and further prove the strength of one of London’s prime residential areas.