£130m mansion price drop signals luxury home prices in London

A villa overlooking Regent’s Park has sold for less than £130m, more than £50m off its asking price, in a sign of rising development costs and the departure of people Rich Russia is influencing the London housing market.

Indian businessman Ajay Kalsi has reached an agreement to buy 1-18 York Terrace East, a Grade I listed block of 95,000 square feet, according to four people with knowledge of the deal.

The sale closes a difficult chapter for previous owners of the John Nash-designed property, while providing rare insight into the challenges of operating on the covert end. of the capital’s housing market.

Developer Zenprop purchased the property in 2016 and the company’s CEO is Derrick Beare told the Financial Times in 2020, his goal is to secure zoning permission, renovate the 1820s property, renew a lease with freelance owner The Crown Estate, and sell it off.

But the developer’s plan to transfer properties for profit has turned sour as the housing market diverges. According to estate agent Savills, the average price for “prime” homes in London is 17.6% lower than the 2014 peak.

“It was a long process, a terrible experience. [There was] Brexit, a pandemic and then a war. Now the market is really tough because of rising construction costs,” said one seller.

Wealthy foreign buyers are a mainstay of London’s main market, but their numbers have dwindled during the Covid pandemic and have yet to recover. Russian buyers, once common in central London, have dwindled their presence in recent years and have disappeared since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

“Obviously there are no Russians, very few Chinese and very few Arab buyers,” said Andrew Langton, president of Aylesford International, which markets York Terrace East with Savills.

The super-rich in the country have fill the void In the luxury property market, they deposit cash into homes worth more than £5 million at a record rate, according to Savills. Even so, homebuyers seeking protection from rising inflation are not aiming for complex renovation projects like York Terrace East.

Because of spiral construction costCaused by inflation and rising interest rates, the price of a refit of York Terrace East could be more than £100 million, according to people with knowledge of the property.

Kalsi did not respond to a request for comment or to clarify his plans for the building, which will be turned into 26 apartments and two houses.

The drop in selling prices is a signal that rising construction material costs are weighing on the market.

“Soon you bought [the property] compared to you touching a concrete wall in terms of construction costs, which go up day by day for bricks, cement, wood, everything. Construction cost [could be] more than £1,000 per square foot,” said one person involved in the deal.

“185 million pounds is now 130 million pounds. Is it a question of construction cost inflation and end-user uncertainty, with the Russians excluded from the market? ” said the person.

But York Terrace East has its own unique complexities. In February 2020, billionaire property investors the Reuben brothers extended a loan against the property from £90 million to £100 million, with interest payments up to £700,000. British one month, according to four people familiar with the deal.

Kalsi borrowed as part of the sale but will likely refinance the property, according to two people.

Reubens declined to comment.

Beare declined to comment; when the Zenprop director tried to sell for £185m in 2020, he said the aim was to “get my money back and move on”.

Several people with knowledge of the acquisition said the company had made a significant loss on the asset, though it’s unclear how much Zenprop has spent on it so far.

“It was a nightmare. It would be such a relief to be outside,” one person said.

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