Opinion: Prime Central London isn't in trouble. The prime market is just expanding south of the river

Jake Russell

There’s been a lot of concern for the prime London market recently, with talk of a price bubble ready to burst and a Brexit-induced exodus of property investment.

While there is no denying there has been a noticeable shift in market activity, what we’re seeing isn’t as extreme as some of the reports would have you believe. Change is slow-paced and a broadening horizon beyond prime central London is starting to reveal itself.

It’s been fascinating to see the monumental shift in power from the once impregnable fortress of Prime Central London (PCL) to the outer fringes. Areas such as Battersea, Kings Cross and the South Bank are becoming increasingly popular with traditional PCL stalwart purchasers.

The reason is the wave of super developments, like Battersea Power Station, that can offer the full package – good location, excellent transport links, super high-quality homes and a strong return on investment.

Our latest research report investigates this phenomenon, looking at the effect Battersea Power Station is having on London, with a particular focus on Chelsea, as that’s the area our agency has particular expertise in.

Interestingly, we’ve found that the average house in Chelsea is 32 per cent more expensive than in Battersea (the difference rises to 40 per cent when comparing apartments).

As a result, we’re seeing typically staunch Chelsea buyers – not just the younger generation, but the older one, too – driven over Chelsea, Albert and Battersea Bridge. This would have been a real rarity a decade or two ago.

Once, the archetypal Chelsea family would enjoy every phase of life in this West End village. From the newlywed couple just starting out, through to the large family in need of a four-plus bedroom home, to older downsizers looking for an apartment.

But as the market has become more competitive we’re seeing more and more home buyers favour value and long-term growth above the status symbol of a good postcode.

There is also incredible investment potential still to be found in Battersea, with prices predicted to grow by 15 per cent by 2020 when the Power Station development is complete.

This is a huge incentive for those looking to get a foot on the prime London property ladder, as well as ultra high-net worth individuals, possibly looking for pied-a-terre, that want their money to work hard for them, without having too much of an outlay.

This is why the boundaries of PCL are slowly being redrawn. When you consider that prime purchasers wouldn’t even consider living south of the river 20 years ago, the change in attitude has been remarkable.

While Chelsea, Mayfair and Knightsbridge will always be a draw, the outer fringes are becoming prime London addresses in their own right.

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