Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mansion Polish; London's Mansion Blocks Offer Large Rooms, Unbeatable Locations and Impressive Buy-to-Let Potential, Discovers Liz Hodgkinson

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mansion Polish; London's Mansion Blocks Offer Large Rooms, Unbeatable Locations and Impressive Buy-to-Let Potential, Discovers Liz Hodgkinson

Article excerpt

Byline: LIZ HODGKINSON

LONDON'S grand mansion blocks, erected in an Edwardian building frenzy, were the first purposebuilt apartments aimed at the gentry. They were placed in the most prestigious locations of the day, often close to the new underground stations and bus routes.

The apartments had high ceilings, imposing common parts and, in many cases, communal heating and hot water systems that were the cuttingedge technology of their time. Most also had lifts. But as they were built in the days of horses and carts, no thought was given to garages or parking spaces.

Today, they also have a tendency to look rather oldfashioned and gloomy, especially when compared with snazzy modern blocks, festooned with gadgetry and with underground car parks.

So, do they represent a good buy-to-let investment?

Barry Manners, of Chard Letting Agents, is in no doubt. "Many investors prefer eye-catching new build to mansion blocks, but they should think again.

"We find that, in spite of the lack of parking facilities, most tenants vastly prefer mansion blocks, with their high ceilings, intricate cornicing and large rooms.

By contrast, new apartments can seem characterless. They also tend to be in less favourable locations.

"From the investor's point of view, mansion blocks are about 25 per cent cheaper to buy than a similarly sized new build. Also, older blocks often have a well-established fund, which newly built ones don't. This could be important if a new roof is needed five years down the line."

Manners's view is echoed by James Wilson of Lane Fox, who believes mansion blocks remain a sound investment thanks to limited supply and high demand.

"Newly built properties often have gyms, but these are overrated and not used as much as expected," he says.

"Also, since so many investors have recently bought heavily into new build, there is now excess supply. …

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