LONDON’S Holy Grail of property, SW6, all but died after Lehman Brothers fell. “A year ago I was sitting at my desk wondering if I’d ever sell another house,” says Lindsay Cuthill, of Savills’ Fulham office. According to Savills’ research director Lucian Cook, prices in Fulham fell by 25 per cent after the crash, compared with 20 per cent in other prime areas of London. From ridiculous boom-time highs, Fulham and its surrounds, known as “prime south-west London” (Putney, Wandsworth, Richmond) were cut down to size, and then some.
For a short window of time, Fulham was a relative bargain. It was exactly the opportunity equity-rich buyers looking to trade up were waiting for. But with sizeable pent-up demand among people that did have a handy £750k in the bank (there are more of them than most people would assume), the market was jerked back to life. Supply was – and still is – thin on the ground, so prices have started to rise again, and are now up by 15 per cent over the past six months, versus 8.4 per cent in prime central London.
Fulham was never going to stay low for long. The area, of which Parsons Green is the crowning jewel, is just too tasty to be let alone, as the area’s wealthy family buyers – mostly British, unlike other prime areas such as Knightsbridge – will tell you. “Fulham answers a lot of people’s needs,” says Cuthill. “It’s relatively safe, relatively well connected, pretty close to the centre of things, plus you’re just a short bus ride to Sloane Square.” For young families, the outstanding network of kindergartens, nurseries and prep schools is a major advantage.
Although March last year was the ideal time to snap up a place in Fulham, now is a good time to start looking. As confidence returns to the market – “the message that properties are shifting is starting to get out”, says Cuthill – supply will blossom. “You could see some modest price falls next year, as the cash buyers start to dwindle,” adds Cook.
Buyers looking for a major bargain have probably missed their chance. But those looking for one of the trustiest investments in town should strike before the next cycle of boom and bust – or bonuses – takes prices up again. “It’s an equity-rich market,” says Cook, “which means it’s a long-term market, so it’s much more likely to regain value than other places. Next year, we may see bonus money return to the market. That should offset any caution from a general election.”
Cuthill says that the £500,000-£700,000 bracket is booming, while above £2m has slowed almost to a halt. “For people with half a million in the bank earning no interest, buying a Fulham property at a 30 per cent discount felt like a good deal and though prices have risen, it’s still a good investment.” He says that for the first time in over a year, asking prices in the £700,000 region are being exceeded. “The higher you go, the thinner the air,” says Cuthill, meaning that there’s little interest at the super top-end.
Here’s our pick of the prime properties in south west London.
FELDON STREET, SW6
All your friends will envy you for this double fronted, superbly designed, seven-bedroom house with all the bells and whistles in the heart of Fulham.
Call Savills on 020 7731 9400, www.savills.co.uk
FULHAM PARK ROAD
Striking six-bedroom family house in an attractive road, with great entertaining space, off-street parking and a spacious garden. Call Strutt & Parker on 020 7731 7100,
WHITTINGSTALL ROAD, SW6
Three-story, enormous Victorian house near the centre of Parsons Green, with light-flooded living and dining room and lovely terrace.
Call Knight Frank on 020 7751 2400, www.knightfrank.com
ORBAIN ROAD, SW6
Three-bedroom cottage with a lovely open plan entertaining space and loft conversion with skylight, plus patio and garden. Call Savills on 020 7731 9400, www.savills.co.uk