Rich seek super-sized luxury London pads

Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:03am EST
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By Tom Bill

LONDON (Reuters) - London developers are shifting their focus toward super-sized luxury flats to keep pace with the growing wealth of overseas buyers seeking a safe haven for their cash, charging them up to 70 percent more for the privilege.

"As the level of wealth among the very rich increases, they are rewriting the 'pied-a-terre' rules. Although their London buy might be a second or third home, they now expect it to have the same size, specification and services as their domicile property," said Rupert Dawes, a partner at international property consultant Knight Frank.

Berkeley Group is building flats of up to 4,000 square feet, about the size of one and a half tennis courts, that can be knocked together for buyers wanting an extra-large home. The development, called Ebury Square in the upmarket district of Belgravia is due to come on sale this summer.

"The top end of the London real estate sector is seeing a new appetite for super-sized floorplates in new apartments," said Paul Vallone, managing director of Berkeley Urban Renaissance.

"International purchasers accustomed to large riads or dachas are now expecting their London property to be as spacious as possible."

The London property market's appeal as a liquid and transparent investment in a relatively stable political and fiscal environment has attracted a wave of overseas buyers during the global financial crisis.

The typical size of a large flat in a luxury development grew from 3,000 square feet in 2000 to 5,000 square feet in 2007 and increasing numbers of wealthy buyers are now hunting for 6,000 square feet properties Knight Frank said.

Nick Candy, chief executive of Candy and Candy, the development manager for London's luxury One Hyde Park scheme that completed a year ago, where the most expensive flat sold for 136 million pounds ($209 million), said his company was the first to plug the gap in the London market.   Continued...