The City Bonus Bonanza; HOMES AND PROPERTY;In the Next Few Weeks, City Workers Get Their Hands on Their Bonuses. Anthea Masey Looks at the Luxuries Available

By Masey, Anthea | The Evening Standard (London, England), February 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

The City Bonus Bonanza; HOMES AND PROPERTY;In the Next Few Weeks, City Workers Get Their Hands on Their Bonuses. Anthea Masey Looks at the Luxuries Available


Masey, Anthea, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: ANTHEA MASEY

In the next few weeks, City workers get their hands on their bonuses.

Anthea Masey looks at the luxuries available

IT'S City bonus time again, and this year the payouts are reported to have reached record levels. The dotcom bubble may have burst in the spring, but a healthy company mergers and acquisitions market and massive loans to the telecoms industry continued to fuel the profits of the major US and European investment banks.

Just before Christmas, Goldman Sachs reported a leap in profits of nearly 25 per cent to $3.25 billion, while Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's profits were 14 per cent up at $5.46 billion.

The size of City bonuses can leave the rest of us gasping in disbelief. They can easily double the annual salary of a young City trader just out of university, while a top executive in one of the leading US investment bank, such as Goldman Sachs, can expect to pocket [pound]5 million in a good year.

At the top end of the property market, City bonuses are the oxygen which fuel the market.

They are one reason why estate agents dealing at this rarefied level claim that the top end of the London and country house market bears little relationship to the rest of the market.

So what kind of property do these high City rollers go for? Flats and family houses in London's best districts - Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Chelsea, Holland Park and Notting Hill - are now top of most people's list, although family houses in Fulham, Wandsworth and Hampstead are also strong contenders.

Penthouses, especially those with river views, are a favourite with single buyers who are after a trendy architectural statement. And for those wishing to move the family out of London, a country house costing [pound]1 million-plus is the trophy purchase. Favourite counties are Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire and Hampshire.

Rupert des Forges in the Knightsbridge office of Knight Frank says there is a lot of bonus money chasing very few properties. "In this office alone we have clients registered with a total of around [pound]50 million-worth of bonus money to spend. But the mood is much more cautious than last year, before the dotcom bubble burst. I don't get the feeling that people are in the same sort of rush they were a year ago.

"Two properties we recently sold were definitely bonus money. The first was a one-bedroom flat in Chelsea to a French banker for [pound]975,000; the other was a three-bedroom flat in South Kensington, which an Italian banker bought as an investment for [pound]800,000."

ADRIAN Owen in the Knightsbridge office of Hamptons confirms that young, single buyers are keen on riverside penthouses.

"The one at St George Wharf, next to the MI6 building at Vauxhall, is on the market for [pound]4.25 million and has loads of bonus money appeal," he says.

"It has an amazing butterfly roof, an ultramodern interior and all the latest gadgets, including plasma-screen TVs."

Owen says one effect of so much money floating around is that a lot of deals get done privately. "Some buyers will pay a hefty premium to get what they want. We recently had a couple with [pound]7 million to spend who wanted a house in Holland Park. We found it for them by approaching one of our clients who was prepared to sell because the price was right."

James Wyatt in the Notting Hill office of Knight Frank says that between 70 and 80 per cent of the deals done through his office are driven by City money. …

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