By Steve Taggart
It’s no secret that London has some of the most expensive real estate in the world, with average property prices up to twice as much as those in the rest of the country. With many homeowners struggling to make it onto the property ladder in the capital, and those that have choosing to extend their current homes through loft conversions to add value or instead of moving, London is beginning to outprice anyone not currently living within its boundaries.
It’s not just London’s residential properties that cost a pretty penny though: a few more of its better-known buildings might just be outside of the average home buyer’s budget…
So what’s the story behind London’s most expensive buildings? LMB Loft Conversions, who are the leading providers of loft conversions across the London area, take a look at some of London’s most historically expensive buildings.
Estimated Value: £1 Billion
Despite competition from some of the mansions built from more recently acquired wealth, the official London home of the Queen is still the world’s most expensive residence, valued at a staggering £1 billion.
The 18th century palace would significantly raise the average price house in the City of Westminster area if it were ever sold, which is unlikely as it technically does not belong to the Queen herself, rather the Sovereign (held in trust by the Crown Estates).
Built back in 1703 as a London townhouse for the newly anointed Duke of Buckingham, the first royal to take up residence was Queen Victoria, who moved in around 1837. Since then, the palace has provided accommodation and a principal workplace for whichever monarch has sat the throne.
With approximately 775 rooms to keep clean (including 1,514 doors and 760 windows), over 800 permanent members of staff are employed to tend to its upkeep, and it’s no surprise that the grounds are home to the largest private garden in the city. The sprawling 40 acre site contains a helipad, lake, tennis court and over 350 types of wildflower – some of which cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.
18 Carlton Terrace House
Estimated Value: £250 Million
While not in the same league as the 10 figure properties that are among the world’s most highly valued, 18 Carlton Terrace House on the outskirts of Trafalgar Square could well become the most expensive ever sold in the capital.
This six-storey, 50,000 sq ft monster was placed on the market at just over £250 million, and is said to be on sale on the mysterious ‘grey market’ – a super secretive brochure is reportedly doing the rounds among the world’s super wealthy, showing pictures of the inside of the Grade I listed Regency mansion that aren’t available to the general public. The secrecy is thought to be due to the security fears of its owner – believed to be a member of a Middle Eastern royal family – and even the brochure only contains pictures from the 1890s.
With enough living space to fill a football pitch, 18 Carlton Terrace House is believed to contain a grand, wide double staircase and an imposing ballroom. At over 1,500 times the price of the average house sold in the UK last year, and a hefty £17.5 million stamp duty thought to be on the cards, it’s unlikely that your standard first time home buyer will be granted a viewing!
30 St Mary’s Axe (AKA The Gherkin)
Estimated Value: £630 million (at last sale)
The first non-residential property on this list is also one of the most iconic on London’s contemporary skyline. Built over a three year period between 2001 and 2004, the Gherkin is 251,000 sq ft of commercial office space situated right in the middle of the The City financial district, and was constructed on the site of the Baltic Exchange which was the target of an IRA bomb attack in 1992.
Despite its infamy and its standing as one of the UK’s most expensive offices, the Gherkin has run into financial troubles of late, stretching back to the 2007 purchase of the building by German bank IVG (along with private equity firm Evans Randall). The buyers’ plans were scuppered by the financial crisis that soon followed, leading to a default on the loan used to purchase the property.
Deloitte have now been called in as receivers, and all concerned are confident that a new buyer will be found soon at auction.
One Hyde Park
Estimated Value: £1.15 Billion
The estimated value of this prestigious London address might be slightly misleading. One Hyde Park is actually a sprawling, luxurious residential complex in the heart of Knightsbridge that contains 86 separate apartments. The £1.15 billion figure is actually the cost to build to development, but with prices per apartment starting at around £20 million, the entire property is probably worth much more than that now.
One Hyde Park has broken property value records left, right and centre, most notably with through its various penthouse apartments. One, Penthouse D, recently became Britain’s most expensive flat, selling for a staggering £140 million earlier this year. This price is made all the more mind blowing when you consider that the apartment was simply a 16,000 sq ft empty shell with no bathroom!
Not only does the complex boast the most expensive flat ever sold in the country, it also contains one with the highest rent. Unlike Penthouse D, this five-bedroom penthouse also has five bathrooms, and will set any interested tenant back around £45,000 per week! That’s over £2.3 million a year!
It’s no surprise that those apartments that are occupied at One Hyde Park are the property of billionaires, with initial builders Nick and Christian Candy and former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani among those with their names on the letter boxes.