The sale of a London flat for £22million to a buyer from the Far East signals a return to the capital of the super-rich following the departure of wealthy Russians, say property experts. The £21.95 million apartment, overlooking sought-after Green Park, became one of the only central London properties to sell for more than £5,000 per square foot - despite requiring a total refurb.
The south east Asian buyer snapped up the “super prime” four-bed property in an invite-only sale. The fifth floor flat sits on a cul-de-sac and has views over the streets of St James and Green Park, and is dubbed “super-prime” – properties worth above £20 million.
The buyers will have their own art studio, parking, and a 24-hour porter. There is also an office, TV room, living room, two kitchens, a large balcony - and it is one of just six flats in the block. Estate agent Harvey Cyzer, who co-owns luxury home dealers Oliver Bernard, said the super prime London market has swung towards Far Eastern buyers over the past three or four years.
The number of Russians is decreasing but not disappearing, he added. Moreover, Mr Cyzer observed a rise in foreign buyers spending “extended periods” in London, contrary to legacy that central London has many empty properties owned by the mega-wealthy based out of the UK.
He put this down to the capital becoming an increasingly international city, bolstering social cohesion. The proprietary partner, who had the same role at Frank Knight’s central London portfolio, said: “Over the last three or four years, I think there has been a consistent flow of Far Eastern buyers, if you go back prior to that, less so.
“Obviously we deal with less Russian purchases, I think that’s a relatively obvious statement, although they are still in London buying. But we’re starting to see that these international buyers that we deal with are starting to spend extended periods in London, not coming into London and leaving London.
“They are more inclined to spend a lot more time in London and to enjoy London and to socialise in London. I think that the reason for that is as London becomes more international, these international families know other international families - there is a social connection that perhaps wasn’t there even as much as five or seven years ago.
“It holds them together a little bit more as buyers. And what it means is they they spend more time here, and I think that will continue to extend. I don’t think that St. James has typically been a Far Eastern Market, it has traditionally been North European, and English.
“But I do think that Piccadilly is sort of no longer the Rubicon, I think people do cross down from Mayfair into Piccadilly. We can market St James to a far more international cross section of buyers because the services, the restaurants, the facilities that St James’ has to offer is forever increasing.
“You don’t have to go back to St. James’ too long ago when it was literally gentlemen’s clubs and suiting for men. Now you’re finding St. James’ has international boutiques, shops, world renowned restaurants - so it’s an easier sell.”
He said the family were particularly interested in having a porter for security, and dead-set on St. James’ Park. Scarcity value boosted the price tag, he said, because “St James’ doesn’t have a great deal of chimney pots.”
The family are said to have previously owned flats in London and visited London for many years. The property is one of just ten flats in the area that have sold above £5,000 per square foot, coming in at £5,093.
But unlike other properties to reach the accolade, the St James’ pad is entirely unmodernised. Fellow properties to sell for over £5,000 per square foot include a modern Mayfair penthouse block that went for £30 million this summer, and features a library and art gallery.
Another flat in the same area sits in a brand new block with a spa and 25 metre swimming pool, and sold for £39,500,500 in the month prior. He said: “In this instance you had a combination of an outstanding building, with not many flats in it, based in a location that appealed very much to the buyer.
“With some of literally the best views in London, in a quiet cul-de-sac which helped them with noise and security, portered, and within their budget - and the fact that they wanted to do work. The fact that it was unmodernised was better than it being modernised.
“Most people are time poor, they don’t want to undergo an 18 month project. They paid close to asking, I have to say our asking figure was reasonably ambitious - it was a phenomenal price for our client, but the purchaser is pleased to pay that price because if they didn’t buy it, undoubtedly someone else would.”
Charlie Gibson, the managing director at Oliver Bernard said flats on that side of the park come up for grabs “once in a generation.” He said: “I am thrilled to have secured a buyer for this spectacular apartment, it offers an incredible opportunity to transform it into a magnificent home.
“Any apartment with views of Green Park demands a premium, but the very few apartments that are located on the East of the Park are once in a generation purchases. St James’s has excellent security, the entrance is extremely private which of course by nature, attracts the world’s most powerful people.
“It’s instructions like these that fuelled our desire to launch a password encrypted off market platform where prospective buyers are carefully selected and then matched to homes which meet their requirements exactly. Not only does this achieve even more privacy for selling a home off market, it also ensures we can provide our clients with serious buyers who are looking for their type of home specifically.
“We are not surprised that St James’s Place was snapped up so quickly. Since June, there have been eight sales in the capital over £20m. This flurry of deals shows those who are not reliant on debt are capitalising. These opportunistic buyers are purchasing best in class assets for their family offices that are available only once in a lifetime.”