London Is Home to 1994's Top 10 House Buyers ; Anne Spackman Looks at the Biggest Property Sales of the Year as Prices at the Top of the Market Set New Records
Spackman, Anne, The Independent (London, England)
At the very top, the property market divides into millionaires and billionaires. The millionaires are generally international business people, many of them British. The billionaires are generally Middle Eastern potentates of which the most active are theroyal families of Saudi Arabia and Brunei. The Sultan's family alone now owns 40 of the best houses in London.
This year the billionaires have shattered previous records for private properties. While the millionaires have bought elegant houses in Kensington and Belgravia, the billionaires have been buying one-off private mansions. The two most expensive houses ofthe year, sold for pounds 30m andpounds 40m are both destined for Middle Eastern purchasers.
1994 has been the year of the London house. Last year the biggest property deals were done in the country, with three large estates selling for more than pounds 9m. This year only Gunnerside, Lord Peel's 32,000-acre estate in North Yorkshire, is in that bracket.
Two other properties which came up for sale this year are still looking for buyers. One is the Old Rectory in Chelsea, the pounds 25m ambassadorial residence done by the development company TMC. Also unsold is the vast pounds 15m Park Lane penthouse offered by Wetherell as a 15,500sq ft shell with 2,500sq ft of terrace and 12- car parking.
Many houses are sold privately, with neither estate agents nor the public ever knowing the house was on the market. This is as comprehensive a list as possible of the 10 biggest sales of residential property in Britain in 1994.
1) St John's Lodge, Regent's Park, London. Price pounds 40m.
With cement mixers still in the garden, St John's Lodge hardly looks like the most expensive house in Britain. It was bought in 1987 by the development company Messila House, which is believed to have privately found a buyer in the Brunei royal family prior to completing the renovation and extension of the building, scheduled for next spring.
The house sits in two acres of grounds, with a second house, staff cottage and gatehouse and is more like a palace than a private home in the centre of a capital city. Inside, the dramatic murals commissioned by the Marquis of Bute in the late 19th century are being restored under the watchful eye of the Crown Estates, which owns the freehold.
2) 18 and 19 Kensington Palace Gardens, London. Price pounds 30m.
This sale only came to light in the annual report of the Crown Estates, which owns this private road. The Crown had let it be known that the leases were up on two diplomatic premises housed in one building - the Egyptian consulate and part of the Russianembassy. Both leases were bought through the Middle Eastern financier David Khalili, who is believed to be selling them on to one of the oil- rich Gulf states.
3) Gunnerside, North Yorkshire. Price pounds 9.5m.
The only country sale to break the pounds 4m barrier, Lord Peel's Gunnerside estate was sold by Savills to an American financier, Robert Miller. …