Wealth Blog

Draughty London mansion, anyone?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 12:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 12:56pm

So, London’s reputedly most expensive mansion has been trumped by London’s even more expensive mansion. This comes only a few weeks after reading that Heath Hall, on north London’s Hampstead Heath had its asking price slashed by a thumping £35 million (HK$420 million) from its previous £100 million (HK$1.2 billion) tag.

According to the Huffington Post, this is after current owner, property magnate Andreas Panayiotou, who might possibly be needing some cash for his tax bill in Greece--had splashed out £40 million (HK$480 million) on fixing it up.

Pictures of the vast pile show a rather austere red brick house, complete with blond wood floors, traditional bifurcating staircase and fabulous indoor pool. But from the outside, to be honest, it looks like a posh private school. It’s hard to imagine who would want to live in such a big house – think of the heating and cleaning bills – coupled with the distance from the centre of town. Hampstead may be fashionable but it’s a schlep home after dinner or the theatre in Central London, plus there’s the daily rush hour jam to contend with.

So if Heath Hall is just too far out in the sticks for you and price is no object, now you can join the throng of wealthy mainland and Hong Kong people buying up posh London property and bid for Britain’s most expensive mansion yet.

It is again, a rather forbidding and severe looking stark place, 18 Carlton House Terrace in Central London, with a price tag of £250 million (HK$2.95 billion). If it sells it will slash Britain’s highest price record, according to the London Standard.

But you can see why the current owner might want to trade down. It may be a Grade I-listed Regency pad, and a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace and views of St James's Park, but the elderly member of a Middle East royal family has probably had enough of trying to keep it clean, warm and draught-free. And who can blame him. Forget the original features that you can’t change because it’s listed, what would he do with 50,000 sq ft of living space, 30 times more than the typical London semi-detached family house.

A "strictly confidential" brochure clearly leaked to the papers describes it as probably the finest residence in London.

"Assets of this quality are obviously priced at a point where only the super-rich can consider them," said Richard Kirke, managing director of Colliers International Hong Kong. "Super-rich Hong Kong and [mainland] Chinese may look at it." Yes they may, but only if they want to open a school, a private nursing home, a hotel but perhaps donate it to the local council to house homeless Romanians, of which London has a plentiful supply.

Knight Frank reported earlier this year that investors from Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and India last year accounted for 50 per cent of purchases of newly constructed homes in central London. Fair enough, but they are looking for sensible pads with insulation and double-glazing near Bond Street or down in Docklands on the river so they can look at the water. No one in their right mind would want to burden themselves with the second largest mansion after Buckingham Palace itself.

On the plus side, the property is at the end of a quiet street between the Mall and Lower Regent Street that, once a very fashionable London address. And you don’t have too many neighbours – apart from those noisy royals with all their yappy dogs and horses clip-clopping about, the only other family owners on the terrace are the Hindujas, who have global stakes in finance, telecommunications and oil businesses.

They bought their home for £60 million (HK$721 million) in 2006 and have spent £50 million (HK$600 million) doing it up. The London record is the £136 million (HK$1.63 billion) paid for an apartment at One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge. A house on Rutland Gate near Hyde Park was reported to have been offered for £300 million (HK$3.6 billion) but has yet to find a buyer. So this one might hang about on the market for a while.