International investment in prime central London is booming – CEO Crown MayfairMarch 19, 2015 1:57 pm
Eprivateclient caught up with Crown Mayfair Ltd’s Kate Bond, chief executive officer at the privately owned, search and acquisition consultancy and Top 25 residential property buyer.
Crown Mayfair deals with a HNW and UHNW client base in search of a personal residence, family home or investment purchases within prime central London and counties in the South East of England.
Ms Bond describes the company as a discreet and bespoke consultancy who pride themselves on building strong, trusted and lasting relationships with clients. “We believe that in order to provide clients with a truly personal, impartial and effective service, it is vital our clients have a single, reliable point of contact from introduction to completion.”
Crown Mayfair was established in 2008, and Ms Bond has seen the company go from strength to strength. Personally securing around £200 million worth of property over the last two years, Kate began her property career back in 1997 working for Laings. From here, she went into portfolio management for an asset management firm based in Mayfair, dealing with multi-million pound property Portfolios. Wanting to strengthen her property knowledge, she decided in 2005 to join one of London’s leading estate agencies, Hamptons International, based in Knightsbridge. As an ARLA Qualified lettings manager, she focused her attentions on building close relationships with investors and developers.
Following Hamptons International, Ms Bond moved on to work as a senior buying consultant for a Mayfair based search and acquisition consultancy, working with international private clients. After two years, Kate then decided to create a company with the intention of providing a bespoke acquisition service that doesn’t compromise the client for the sake of completing deals. The clients’ interests take precedence over the firm’s.
With a team of six, Ms Bond describes her business as similar to a “small family office set up.” Crown Mayfair are in constant contact with private banks, trust companies, architects, accountancy, tax and law firms to make sure all her clients’ needs are met. Kate and her team, including associate director Alex Dawkins, have an extensive knowledge of the prime central London market and an impressive reputation amongst clients for offering a uniquely personal and professional service.
Crown Mayfair’s client base covers a wide array of backgrounds and nationalities, yet is predominantly made up of West African and Middle Eastern clients looking for a second home in London. Kate states that most international clients are attracted to London’s economic safety, culture, prestige and well trusted educational system. Chelsea is still one destination of choice, according to Ms Bond, with mansion blocks and regeneration projects also increasing in popularity.
Other key locations Crown Mayfair acquire property in are Mayfair, Kensington, St James’s and Buckingham Gate. The introduction of the Cross Rail in 2018/19 has also created considerable property value uplift in currently undervalued areas according to Ms Bond. Areas such as Farringdon, Hannover Square and especially Paddington are all villages of value. “Despite London’s notoriously high prices, we always strive for the best deals for our clients and there is still value to be found in certain areas if you know when and where to look,” she assured.
It has been reported that the over-saturation of the London property market in recent years, has made it increasingly difficult to find investments with sufficient traction to make them appealing and viable. At Crown Mayfair however, the team remains enthusiastically confident that they are able to find properties for clients that will not only weather any potential drop in the market, but result in healthy long-term returns.
This confidence is largely attributed to the continual analysis the company undertakes of the capital’s postcodes, ensuring the team consistently locates the best value pockets, streets and villages. “It is also down to the access we are given to properties not yet on the open market by varying sources who respect our name and reputation,” says Kate, “This is where it pays to be among the best and not the biggest”.
In fact for 2014, an impressive 40% of properties purchased by Crown Mayfair have been off market and average saving to clients was 7.3%, with some distinguished deals achieving reductions of nearly 50% and some in property brackets exceeding £95 million. The company’s relationships with developers have also enabled the team to secure unique properties at attractive rates, specifically tailored to the client’s specifications.
Crown Mayfair also offers a post-purchase after care service, headed by ex-wealth manager Tracy Haddow. Providing an all-inclusive concierge service to their clients, Crown Mayfair seeks to pertain to all of their client’s needs, from start to finish and beyond. In conjunction with this, the firm has recently commenced its in house property management service.
Yet, Ms Bond stands by wanting to keep the team small, tightly knit and dependable. “We are bridging the gap between other property firms. We are thoroughly communicative with our clients, offering a truly impartial service, with the client’s best interests at the forefront.” Kate adds, “Our repeat business is significant, I have one client on their fifth property with us. We place great importance on genuine relationship building and this is supported by our long term and repeat client associations.”
Politics, taxation and the prime London property market have been a hot topic for media and investment minds alike. The latest update from the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement revealed a vast change in the UK’s Stamp Duty reform, moving towards a progressive tax system and particularly looking to gain higher revenues from higher value properties. With the sudden SDLT reforms having the tight midnight deadline on the 3rd December, the Crown Mayfair team managed to exchange on 4 deals, saving clients in excess of £1,000,000 in potential SDLT increases.
The team comments that the reforms will evidently benefit those below £937, 000, yet for those in higher brackets, the core clientele for Crown Mayfair, stamp duty costs will be considerably more. The reforms to the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) are also adding to costs for those in the higher end of the market. Ms Bond stated “The real impact of these reforms on international investment will become clear over the next few quarters. However it is evident that the main burden of this tax will be accommodated by the likes of our clients. In light of the changes, we believe the market will acclimatise swiftly. Demand for property in prime central London is generally unwavering and always substantial. We remain confident as always and this is where our expertise really comes into its own.”
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This post was written by Tim Jones