Simon Barnes explains why settling for second best is not an option when it comes to locating the best properties
When people are considering buying a property in Prime Central London I’m frequently asked ‘EXACTLY where is the best place to buy?’
The simple truth is there is no point in having the best house in the worst street.
Similarly, once you have chosen your street, you certainly do not wish to invest in a lesser house when, with a little insider knowledge and research, you could have a much better one.
One thing potential buyers find very surprising is that the key areas of Prime Central London – even Mayfair, are all incredibly small, but the property range is quite diverse. So being armed with the knowledge of exactly where and where not to buy is essential.
I would say that there are only ten streets you should be looking at in Mayfair; these include Charles Street, Upper Grosvenor Street, Mount Street and Green Street.
However, do look at Charles Street in Google Earth or Street View and you will see that some sections are much narrower than others, and that the houses contrast in style and architectural features. At the rear, you will see that others back closely onto houses in Hay’s Mews to the north and Clarges Mews to the south. You can imagine that, in these houses, very little natural light comes in and the gardens may lack privacy, although many do have the adjoining mews houses, which provide much needed parking, added accommodation and security.
In reality, even in the prestigious location Green Street, Mayfair there are perhaps only four or five houses, that I would recommend buyers view.
Take a Google Street view ‘drive’ around Belgrave Square and at first glance, you will see that all the houses appear to be identical. Therefore, you would assume that they all have the same inside layout. However, there is a massive difference between houses and their immediate neighbours. Seemingly irrelevant details, for example, where the staircase is , can dramatically change the house and will define the houses appeal.
Similarly in one of the great Belgravia streets, Cadogan Place, at the eastern part of the street, you will notice that the houses all have gleaming white stucco fronts while at the south end the houses have plain brick frontages. While the white facades may seem attractive, all these houses back closely onto their mews houses. The brick fronted houses are much better; more space at the rear, quieter and altogether a better location.
It’s the same story in Kensington. In the popular Holland Villas Road, houses on one side back on to the noisy Holland Road, while houses on the other side back onto the very much quieter large houses of Addison Road.
Some years ago a client came to me wanting to buy a property in Holland Park and was comparing it in size, amenities and price to another across the road which had recently been on the market. I told him that he should consider only one which actually backed on to the park. While there are very few which do, I found one which he subsequently purchased.