Arabs have historically chosen London for its safe-haven credentials. Despite uncertainty over Britain’s new government and encroaching exit from the EU, London’s prime central market has not lost its allure. A year on from the Brexit vote, the weaker pound is offering significant savings for international buyers.
Mike Hussey, CEO of Almacantar, says there is a new wave of Middle Eastern buyers looking to invest in London’s real estate, following a favourable shift in currency rates. “London has long been a favourite property investment market for Middle Eastern buyers, and now even more so with the favourable exchange rates and increased interest from sovereign wealth funds in prime real estate.”
The famous and high-profile areas of Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Kensington and Chelsea have always attracted the most attention, with overseas families and executives flocking to rent or buy in these sought-after London postcodes, says Katherine McCullough, development director at Merchant Land. McCullough sees Marylebone as one of the most in-demand yet affordable new hotspots to emerge in recent times. Located north of Mayfair and with Oxford Street as its southern border, Marylebone has some of the very best of London at its fingertips. Marylebone has always been an incredibly fashionable area in London. Since the 17th century it has been home to many famous residents from the great poet, Lord Byron, to Charles Dickens to Sir Paul McCartney and more recently, Madonna.
For international buyers, McCullough says location is incredibly important and so Marylebone is perfectly situated to allow them to enjoy luxury city living, but also be within easy reach of London’s Royal Parks. In fact, one of Marylebone’s strengths is its fantastic location, which sits just a short distance from Regents Park and Oxford Street, in addition to the Edgware Road, which is known for its Middle Eastern culture.
Also, with a demand from international buyers for lateral living, there has been a rise in luxury apartments and town houses within the area. Developers are aware of the need to design these new luxury properties to meet the lifestyle requirements of the overseas investors that they appeal so greatly to. For example, providing air conditioning, lift access and 24-hour security, in addition to beautiful bespoke touches.
Saul Empson, director of buying agency Haringtons, says the new generation of buyers with larger budgets and a long-term investment view are attracted to the areas that have seen impressive investment from old London estates such as Grosvenor (Mayfair and Belgravia), Cadogan (Chelsea) and Portman (Marylebone). Although the properties are smaller with less outside space, the lifestyle element is extremely attractive. Younger purchasers want access to the best shops, restaurants and night life. In a fast-paced world, buyers also want 24/7 services on their doorstep, from dry cleaning, fitness studios and healthy eateries to art galleries and the top boutiques. “Being surrounded by the traditional London but with a modern twist is exactly what is luring the prime buyers,” says Empson.
He advises buyers with smaller budgets who can’t afford the likes of Chelsea and Notting Hill and who want value for money and a strong return on investment to look at property close to new transport links. Key hotspots for savvy investors are around the new Crossrail route, which will be fully functioning in 2019. The area surrounding the new Custom House station in Docklands, for example, has been subject to huge rejuvenation and has exciting new developments in the pipeline. The new rail link will ensure residents can be in Canary Wharf in three minutes and the centre of the Square Mile (Liverpool Street) in 10 minutes.
Southall in Ealing, which would never have been considered a strong investor hotspot, is now also firmly on the map — prices have already increased 58 per cent since 2008 and they are only going up. Crossrail has opened up areas that would have never have been considered a sensible option either by UK or overseas purchasers, helping London’s property purchasing landscape evolve.
Bespoke solutions for a Middle Eastern audience
Architects, designers and home dressing estate agents in London are becoming much more aware of the Middle East’s love with London, and are launching marketing and public relations campaigns to coincide with the Eid holidays. So if you are travelling to London during Eid Al Adha and plan to shop around for property, check out these places.
Mayfair offers the benefits of a quintessential English village in a prime location. One much sought-after exclusive address is The Penthouse at 37 Curzon Street, located above the iconic Curzon Cinema. An exclusive duplex residence offering contemporary living in an impressive Grade II listed building, it is one of a kind in the area. The residence was previously the home of rock legend Dave Clark of Beatles rival, The Dave Clark Five.
This summer, London has seen its usual wave of Arab visitors escaping the soaring temperatures at home to indulge in shopping sprees in London. The last remaining penthouse at Fitzroy Place in Fitzrovia is the perfect pied-à-terre to enjoy nearby retail therapy on Oxford Street and Regent Street. The duplex apartment boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and extensive terraces in the heart of London.
There has been a river renaissance across London in the last decade, and riverside living only continues to increase in popularity and price. The Middle East is no stranger to superlative waterfront properties, so for those looking for riverside options in London, Riverwalk sets a new benchmark in luxury design and contemporary living.
Living in the Square Mile
The Heron is a rare duplex penthouse in the heart of London’s financial district and in the City’s cultural quarter. It is the first residential development in the City of London for over 30 years. The residence offers the ultimate feature for a discerning buyer — the innovative ‘indoor outdoor’ room with retractable roof.
Tech City is Europe’s largest tech hub and prices are set to rise by 16 per cent over the next five years, according to JLL. The Atlas Building is a distinctive 40 storey building and will be the tallest in Tech City, an area between Old Street and the trendy shopping, dining, and nightlife of Shoreditch.
Woolwich, a district of southeast London, is on the new Elizabeth train line, which is due to be fully open in 2019. JLL anticipates price growth of 39.2 per cent by 2020, more than any other area along the new commuter line.
Check out  getthat.com/property  for hundreds of properties for rent and for sale in the UAE.