To some, a mews is the embodiment of the English house in town: cottage-like, surrounded by cobbled streets with easy parking, and positioned in some of the best parts of the city.
But prices are high, by anyone’s standards: Savills is selling a freshly-renovated mews with over 9,000sqft in Belgravia for £28m. Elsewhere, off Brompton Road, a three-bedroom property on Relton Mews is being marketed by Lurot Brand for £4.25m, while in Little Venice, a derelict one-bedroom property over a double garage, on Pindock Mews, a street once home to Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, has gone on the market for £2.5m. It’s all relative.
Agents report that mews properties no longer pull rank for buyers in the city – prices per square foot look more attractive every week against rising values on lateral flats and high-tech townhouses.
But this isn’t a sign we’re falling out of love with the mews, says Tim Macpherson, head of London residential sales for Carter Jonas. In fact, now is the time to buy – if you can. “There’s a window of opportunity for them in the super prime areas – Belgravia, Mayfair, Knightsbridge.” This, like anything, is partly to do with fashion; “in Mayfair it was all about the lateral flats for a while, and now it’s all townhouses with lifts that are creating the highest prices per square foot.
You’ve got lateral flats trading at between £2,500 and £4,000psqft and townhouses at £4,000psqft plus in Mayfair, but you can buy a mews house for somewhere between £2,000-£2,500psqft,” Macpherson says. “Whereas before, mews houses in Belgravia were achieving north of £3,000psqft quite often.”
"To a Middle Eastern buyer or a very wealthy American, a mews house is where the staff reside. Where we think charming, they think compact. Where we think well located they think, well, it’s behind the big house.”
Macpherson has one client, “a Greek chap”, buying one mews after another. “He thinks they represent excellent value, and he’s only looking in Belgravia and Mayfair. In Hyde Park you can buy mews houses for between £1,250-£1,500psqft, whereas the top quality lateral flats are between £2,000 and £3,000psqft.”
These numbers are compelling. Like Macpherson, Thomas van Straubenzee, managing director of prime property agency VanHan, puts it down to the changing desires of the super-rich property magpies. “Maybe the world now wants portered buildings,” he says, “with 24-hour security. A lot of buyers are favouring blocks and apartments with a porter and on-site concierge.”
Macpherson agrees. “International buyers want lock up and leave lateral properties, or they’re at another level entirely with staff and drivers, and so are looking at townhouse family living. To a Middle Eastern buyer or a very wealthy American, a mews house is where the staff reside. Where we think charming, they think compact. Where we think well located they think, well, it’s behind the big house.”
It’s different strokes for different folks. Many English buyers – or agents lucky enough to tour them – find it easy to fall in love with a mews, van Straubenzee says, naming Pont Street Mews, between Knightsbridge and Sloane Square, as one of the best. “In my eyes mews houses are great – you’re not in a block of apartments where you have to bring everything in and then get in a lift. They’ve got that old-fashioned charm.”
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