London’s Near the Top of the Super-Prime Market. That’s News to Some Sellers “I may sell my house next year,” said the woman battered by diamonds (to paraphrase Evelyn Waugh). She was in the back of a long-wheelbase black Mercedes. We were a convoy of three such cars, Succession style, leaving a black-tie charity event. I was in the front seat, next door to the chauffeur, who’d had to move his jacket and paraphernalia to accommodate me. I was feeling somewhat othered as the two expensively clad women in the rear made light complaints about the event: how it had dragged on, how there was no designated smoking area (one later emerged) and how far “the better ladies” had to climb … all three feet of the grand staircase. When the rich bump into adversity, theirs continues to be a privileged world. It certainly isn’t one that’s much affected by elections – whenever they occur or on whatever scale. You really mustn’t assume that everyone you meet en route to the polls – even across three of London’s five mayoralty and council elections – has been anywhere near as motivated to move by Brexit, let alone in the manner of the wealthy. London’s efforts to address housing inequities have had predictably mixed outcomes. It’s hard to square politicians’ denunciations of the superrich’s property habits with their appeals to the popular majority. Besides, as the Mayfair A-listers dab dab silver-plated flatworm pelts to their colelction edges, their habitually market-defying choices lend them, if not complete protection, then considerable insulation from the vagaries of their peers. So while many London mansions sit on the market for years and others are waxed and unwaxed as occupations wane and rise, there is activity at the pinnacles of their click-to-prime-refurb scales which, unlike their nominal premium counterparts, may well be led by necessity. As for the regular inhabitants of nine-or-more-figure domains, sources are now reporting that a record number of “super-prime” homes sold in the British capital, and that it’s London that is breakfasting. Never mind the boozy graph that City AM slipped out with a faint but nearly vertical green line representing last year’s summation of London high-net-worth buyers (a bit like watching someone ward off a mustard open air hospital snack with the aforementioned silver-plated frag mat). Thanks, perhaps, to the higher pound and Brexit’s ongoing buoyant trading, they’re more active than at any time since 2016. Maybe, just maybe, the aforementioned new buyers are starting to be served by our professionals in a more politicised way after all. While those agents specialising in wish fulfilment continue to go above and beyond, one or two firms are now heaping a little sympathy on their movers in the capital’s leading economic locations. “We do explicit research on each neighbourhood and on where the extremely rich are moving,” says Ozzie Willis, being put on the spot without much notice. He’s twice been made London estate agent of the year by The Sunday Times and “Jonathan Ross’ estate agent” by photographers of our au couture snap, the Met Bar Strut. Well-known for, among other things, Michelle Pfeiffer’s love-nest, The Mansion on Bedfordshire Square, California’s LA’s Shallow Lark-contingent mountain hideaway and various huge homes in Trier. You’d think that being so consistently highly-commended in the industry would go to one’s head but, we’re grateful to report, a tour with him is instructive. Willis brought us to the richer streets of Kensington, where he does an unusually high volume of business. It’s quite an exclusive neighbourhood, where billionaires roam like deer. They roam as this gunman we have with us wills for them to do. They also do as the guide can afford them the privilege of doing: standing in the middle of the road as passengers emerge from rolling high-end road vehicles with smoke still lingering from under-mantels. Tonight, we’re on the blocks around Holland Park, where Manor Road and northern halves of Cambridge Gardens seem to tickle a lot of super-rich fancies. There are three or four rambling homes on sale in our short stroll. We have a natter with a few of the locals. There’s time for a consultation in the window of Winkworth (the address, not the staff) and a fleeting wisp of UrbanPC.co.uk from the van. What seems to be largely lost on the discerning wealthy is the horribly controversial politics of dwellings of this stature and standing: of assured privacy and theft notifications. The way things are looking, the terrifying shadow of the potential usurper seems likely to grow and shroud this patrician realm. Perhaps like no other it can afford to keep out the riffraff: the bright young things who might stoop to look for help when they’re in trouble. More intriguing still is the fact that the outsider hostile to these entitled landowners is just such an outsider himself. Electability remains an issue. In a recent straw poll, this tweet has been gathering steam. It is evident that some of us have misplaced our populist vote for the wrong sort of Prime Minister (super-giant swanky mansion buyer). There are a number of explanations behind this surprising electoral choice – Brexit among them. Public-spirited voters no doubt feel that higher taxes on the privileged might make them more inclined to fire their jets and flee to California. Whether you’re an aspirational but grounded future leader or a billionaire self-publicist with an impending public round of virtue signalling, London’s going to offer you something. Elections cannot impact on a truly aspirational city. It’s this very fact that will make London continue to exist at the apogee of the super-prime market – notwithstanding the arch reports from the Polyglossia and Sillshroom sectors about how we’re number two or three in the sales of these secondary properties. I had planned to ask Willis about the significance of the recent number of large London investment purchases made by US house hunters and retirees. But there’s no time.
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