In 2001 a detached house in north London was sold for £3million. Two years before, the house two doors down went for £2.8million. Now the house in between them is on the market for £34million. Its been completely rebuilt and turned into a small leisure centre with pool, gym, sauna, cinema, entertainment areas, hair studio plus, of course, the nine en-suite bedrooms, reception, ballroom, wine cellar and garage.
Did I forget anything?
Oh yes, you can see the neighbours on either side.
Nowhere else in the world have property prices behaved like this. What on earth is going on?
Last week, I bumped into one of those under-the-radar property chappies at a London garden party and in between swigs of champagne and attempts to spear moules marinieres (bad choice) with a wooden fork, I mumbled: “isn’t this just another property bubble?” Not at all, said Mr North. Far from falling, London prices could go even higher as the super-rich scramble into this safe haven.
“The Cyprus problem has been totally under-reported,” he said.
“There’s been a huge knock on effect since the Germans decided to raid their deposit accounts.
“Ah yes, all those private Russian jets lined up at Nicosia airport waiting to ship out the shady money when the news broke.”
So it’s ended up in prime central London?”
I asked Mr N, at which point a very thin woman butted in icily: “I think you mean central prime London rather than prime central London.
Did I? It seemed a good time to slip the moules into a bin.
It’s really outrageous when you think of all the people in Cyprus who did not have a private jet and saw their life savings exchanged for worthless bank shares.
In fact if a man by the name of Vladimir walks into my office with a suitcase of e500 notes I should in all consciousness call HM inspector of taxes.
Other foreign nationals who are pushing up London prices are the Chinese, who buy in bulk at Hong Kong property shows, get a discount and never even visit London. It’s caused a lot of grief, particularly with MP Simon Hughes who thinks British buyers should get first dabs. Perhaps they should.
Anyway such people do not interest Mr North, who prefers to deal with chaps whose first name is Sheikh.
“It’s a lot easier to buy one property priced at £44million than 44 properties priced at £1million,” he said.
“The price is not really relevant, so long as the taxman doesn’t get it or it’s lost in some Arab uprising.”His buyer did not come to see the property, he just said: “I’ll take it. My architect will come along.” Then probably the architect will call back and say: “It’s not listed, so knock it down. I’ll apply for planning permission.”