Loft-apartment-E14
As a London urban lifestyle in the inner city, city fringe and even in the suburbs becomes, if not mainstream, then certainly more common, there’s a lot of property development going on where the marketing or spiel purports to be offering loft apartments to an unsuspecting public.

The term “loft” has been somewhat purloined by the larger housebuilders seeking to attract a wider audience for their products. But rather than actually build lofts, they’ve simply added the term to their marketing of modern apartments.

Very simply, a loft apartment is an apartment that has been created out of a former non-residential building – think warehouses, factories, schools, hospitals, workshops, office blocks and churches. On top of that, to be an authentic loft the apartment should display some elements of its former use (usually industrial windows, some bare brick or concrete, perhaps the original timber or concrete floors, some iron beams and columns, you get the gist.)

A proper loft apartment in Battersea, London
A proper loft apartment in Battersea, London

Generally speaking, buyers nearer the centre of London are more savvy and exposed to loft apartments than buyers in the suburbs. And so it’s easier for a property developer to palm his modern apartments off as lofts in the suburbs, because the buyers usually won’t be so expert. It’s simply a question of exposure.

Some of the new developments we see in London where the developer is trying to sell them as lofts, are anything but. Very often the only lofty thing about them is that they are not quite so entirely disgusting as most of the boring boxes that major housebuilders insist on foisting upon the British public. And by not quite so entirely disgusting all we really mean is they might have upped the kitchen spec with a nice work surface, or put in some nice taps, or laid a wood (rather than laminate) floor or, the generous souls, made the windows a bit bigger. However, no matter how much they insist up on it, a new build apartment in a block with 8ft high ceilings is NOT, we repeat NOT, a loft.

There are some notable exceptions to the new build rule. Bankside Lofts in Bankside opposite the Tate Modern is a good example of how it is possible to create lofts in a new building. There are high ceilings, double height voids, massive full-height, full-width factory-style windows, mezzanine levels and exposed concrete. It is possibly the only genuine new build development that can be accurately included in the London loft apartment marketplace.

This isn’t to say there aren’t some great new build developments in London. Particular with the smaller niche developers you will find some great modern living spaces that, while not lofts, are nonetheless perfectly excellent places to live and call home. They will give you years of pleasure.

But they’re not lofts.

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UMM-November-2015
Every now and then you get a sale that’s so quick and easy that – momentarily at least – it seems to make up for all the slow and complicated delays that plague the UK property market and that seem so at odds with selling contemporary property in such a modern metropolis as London.

The London Factory is a converted sausage works on Brunel Road in Rotherhithe Village. Here we agreed a sale at the full asking price of £3.5m within a week of this rather extraordinary London loft coming onto the market, and the sale exchanged contracts within 7 days. Believe us when we say this is a very rare event, but it left a smile on the faces of all concerned and shows what can be done when everyone involved really puts their mind to it. Why can’t all property sales be like this?

The upside down house on Putney Bridge Road was also agreed and its new owners are looking to take up residence in March. While in Brixton at The Lights Factory, where we’ve ben quite active of late, we exchanged contracts on a loft house of xxx ft2.

We’ve had a long and happy history with the converted church tower on Gipsy Hill in Crystal Palace that now offers an extraordinary house of 6 levels with a lift running up the centre. Having found various tenants for Highland Tower over the years we have now agreed a sale. Definitely one of the most singular London properties we have ever encountered.

Over in the rental market, some of the addresses getting new tenants this month in the rental market are Southside Quarter in Battersea where we let a super loft converted from a school at £1350 per week. And another converted school in Kennington, The Lycee, where we let a 1 bedroom loft at £675 per week.

There are a LOT of buyers out there at the moment, really serious people who are really seriously looking for a seriously unusual property in London. We are also seeing a lot of extraordinary property all across the city, but it’s not coming on at quite the speed to keep up with demand.

That is something we expect to change in the coming months with changing tax laws around property ownership ad rental income. Clearly people are beginning to think about what it means to own the property they own, and the amount of homeowners contacting us right now suggests a pretty decent level stock becoming available in the spring.

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