Notting Hill hasn’t been having the best of weeks, if truth be told. On Tuesday, a report from estate agent Stirling Ackroyd revealed that average house prices had fallen in several prime central London locations. In W11, they’ve gone down by 10 per cent from the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016.
When asked to account for this sudden drop, estate agents have two things to blame. Some talk about the looming EU referendum causing uncertainty in the UK’s economy generally, but most point the finger firmly towards stamp duty reform on properties over £1m and the 3 per cent surcharge on second homes.
“It’s really making an impact,” says Caspar Harvard-Wells, partner at independent property buying agency Black Brick. “For example, for a £5m property, SDLT has gone from £350,000 to £513,750 – an increase of nearly 50 per cent.
“This, along with the changes to non-dom status and capital gains tax for foreigners, has led to a real slow down in both the prices being achieved and the number of transactions. The vendors who will be successful are those who have realised that it has become a buyer’s market.”
Other estate agents are more optimistic, acknowledging the reforms’ impact on the market, but saying it’s actually sorted the serious buyers from the browsers.
“The Notting Hill market is by no means as depressed as some of the reports would have us believe,” says Marlon Lloyd Malcolm, associate director and head of sales at Lurot Brand. “The result is, in fact, a more robust market. We are viewing a lot but with less applicants, but those who are viewing are making decisions and offers. This is different to a year ago when there was a lot of indecision amongst buyers and most were waiting. The buyers that are looking now are aware that property stock across the board is priced more reasonably than they expected and this is having a positive impact on transactions.”
Putting market uncertainty aside, Notting Hill is still a hugely popular area with British buyers. It was one of the first places to be gentrified by artists and designers after all, and cultural hotspots like Westbourne Road and Portobello Road are still bona fide celeb haunts.
Savills’ research team also published one of its Spolight On reports on the area this month, highlighting some interesting data. It turns out, 80 per cent of domestic buyers in Notting Hill moved there from Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.
Its oft-noted “village feel” is also down to the fact two thirds of sales are to owner-occupiers using the property as their main home. The report also found that sellers who had access to communal gardens could command an 11 per cent premium on their property.
Thankfully, many of them do, as there’s a great number of white stucco terraced houses – admittedly many of them sub-divided into flats now – that are largely unspoilt by large new build development, which remains boutique and in-keeping with the Georgian architecture.
“Notting Hill has totally transformed over the last 30 years and buyers are prepared to pay for the unique lifestyle and, in line with this, quality properties are selling well,” says Sebastian Anduze, a local sales manager at Jackson-Stops & Staff. “It is worth remembering that now is a good time to buy as interest rates continue to remain at historic low levels.”