UMM
Well we must retract one of our former statements, in that the prospect of a Mansion Tax and the surrounding uncertainty over how much it might be, how it might work and when it might start – in the event of a Labour win in next month’s election – has had quite an effect on the market for £1m+ properties. Although none of the figures that have been floating around would necessarily put that much of a dent in high-income earners’ pockets, it’s the ambiguity of the mechanics that has caused the fallout.

Seeing as the market moved almost relentlessly upwards during the last Labour administration, for about 13 years in fact, our view is that any initial gasps in reaction to whatever the Mansion Tax may or may not be will soon be surpassed by the British appetite to buy the home they want, when they want and where they want. The worst-case scenario we can see would be a mild correction in prices over the £1million mark to cater for the extra expenditure of the Mansion Tax. After that, and once the tax is simply part of the system, it’ll no longer be a talking point and more a case of simply what is so.

In 2003, when stamp duty for properties over £250,000 went up to 3%, everyone thought that section of the market was doomed. In the event, vendors either paid that back to their buyer or reduced their price to just below the threshold; the market – and, moreover, people – always find a way to make it work. It’s very unlikely that families will no longer expand or need larger houses, or that all those with enough cash to afford an expensive unique property in London would unanimously decide to live somewhere less fantastic than they could, simply to avoid the tax.

In the 1990s and early 2000s people routinely paid 7 or 8% interest on their mortgages for many years without thinking it was excessive, and we certainly can’t imagine the Mansion Tax being workable if any government attempted to bring it in at an equivalent or higher level. None of the mooted figures have come anywhere close to that and so, as with everything, it will simply work itself out. Doubtless even less dramatically than a media storm or election frenzy would suggest.

Dropping below the £1m mark it’s an entirely different story. With spring having finally sprung, people are coming out of their winter hibernation and we’ve experienced a massive upturn in the number of buyers registering. At this price level it seems people can’t move fast enough and if we had 5 times as much property as we have in this price range, we’d simply have 5 times as many sales. It really is that cooking.

Off-market sales are also strong, with this scaled-down, tailored approach to marketing proving extremely popular with buyers and sellers. They’ve all experienced a far more relaxed process than the usual franticness, and that has generated a feeling of camaraderie on each side of pretty much all the transactions we’ve arranged: an unseen benefit, but certainly a welcome one.

More next month!

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Every loves a hidden gem, and you could hardly conceive of a more misleading and frontage to throwing you off the scent than this innocuous brick wall on White Hart Street in Kennington SE11. Only the door suggests there might be something else going on, although it’s so unassuming as to be pretty much invisible to anyone who happened to pass by, which in itself is fairly unlikely.

White Hart St Wall

However, whether by invitation or through ownership you find yourself walking on through to the other side, you’ll find yourself in the enclosed courtyard of a converted stable block that is now a remarkable two-storey house with 1614 sq ft (149 m2) of particularly well-realised space.

On the ground floor, the main action is centred around a huge open plan living space with beautiful oak plank floors and a ceiling that goes right up into the roof above the sitting area, where natural lights comes pouring through a bank of skylights. A modern chimney with glass-fronted fireplace and a finely crafted media wall for all your audio-visual gadgetry complete the picture. Over in the dining area, a fantastic pentagonal rooflight sits above the table and, between the two zones, sits the kitchen, designed to be as sociable as possible with a central cooking island and breakfast bar ensuring maximum contact with your guests. Also on the ground floor is the master bedroom suite, which looks out to the courtyard and has a particularly spacious en-suite bathroom.

White Hart Street Exterior

Head up the stairs, whose skylight ensures there’s never a dark moment, and you’ll find two more bedrooms, again both doubles, and these share a beautiful contemporary bathroom that’s a storming display of grey slate, mosaic and reconstituted stone. Once again, there are plenty of windows and skylights all round.

White Hart St bathroom

The split-level courtyard outside has a raised lounge area and built-in barbecue pit. It’s a private space, walled on all sides with two elevations of sandy-coloured brick and two of painted white render.

White Hart Street courtyard

White Hart Street is a small access-only side road with a nifty pedestrian path through to the other section of the street which comes out almost opposite Kennington Underground station, about three minutes’ walk. Just around the corner, the crossroads of Kennington Lane and Kennington Road acts as the neighbourhood centre and boasts some truly great places for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And let’s not forget the beautiful Georgian enclave of Cleaver Square, also just a few minutes’ walk, where you can play boule or enjoy a lazy lunch or evening at the Prince of Wales.

The house is priced at £1,325,000 and you can see full details, photos and plans here.

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