London isn’t only a global capital, it’s the global capital, if we’re to believe Forbes, which ranked London as the most influential city globally last year, leaving New York snapping at its heels. While political uncertainty in the UK may have knocked confidence, it’s still widely thought that London’s reign will continue.
However, beyond the rankings of economic activity, political power and real estate values, New York is arguably more influential when it comes to setting trends. Buyer expectations have shifted and we have seen a rise in demand, especially from overseas, for the equivalent of “condo living” in London, a concept ingrained in the New York real estate market. Many buyers expect facilities such as a concierge and private club or lounge as standard in central London developments, a trend first seen on the Upper East Side.
For one New York buyer looking for a period property in London, having a porter was an absolute deal breaker. Other than in high-end new developments or exclusive locations such as Eaton Square, proper porters (not the glorified caretakers you may come across in mansion blocks) are hard to find in London, so I certainly had my work cut out.
Over the last decade, the influence of New York on prime residential development in London has becoming increasingly notable. Whether enticed by lofty ceilings, exposed brickwork or industrial accessories, more buyers are asking us to help them search for warehouse-style homes. Developers have caught on to this trend and are responding with “mock Manhattan” new builds that emulate New York design.
Even the vernacular hails from across the Pond; in the UK, “loft” traditionally meant an attic conversion in a Victorian terrace, typically with Velux windows and, with any luck, room to stand up straight. One developer recently named their smallest units “Manhattans” – a far more generous and stylish moniker than a mere “studio”.
Last year we saw a rise in the popularity of lateral living, as homeowners traded period townhouses for large, sprawling apartments. Buyers are also becoming more specific about specification – one couple sold up in New York to buy in London, bringing their great kitchen expectations with them. On every viewing they headed straight to the kitchen to check the prerequisite double fridge was in place.
Given all this, instead of trying to predict 2015’s next big thing, perhaps we should just look across the Atlantic. My spies in New York tell me that, due to a surge in the technology sector and the luxury developments in the pipeline, Midtown is the area to watch. Likewise in London: Holborn – which is currently undergoing a re-brand as “Midtown” – is set to be hot property in 2015.
Quintessentially Estates is a global property search and acquisition, management and marketing company. Visit quintessentiallyestates.com for more.
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