Last year, London overtook Hong Kong to become the world’s most expensive city. New figures found that the typical cost per individual employee to rent somewhere to live and leasing office space had risen to $120,000 (£73,800) a year. The only other cities that could compare were New York, Paris, and the previous year’s title-holder Hong Kong. The rising costs of the average property in the capital is considered to be the major determiner, with many figures being pushed up by the highly desireable townhouses that make up the capital.
What Is a Townhouse?
Traditionally, the townhouse referred to the town or city residence of a member of the nobility or gentry class. This was used alongside their country house, also known as a stately home. A noble or wealthy family would spend most of their time living in the townhouse, escaping to their country abode for holidays. While the largest of London’s townhouses were standalone properties, like the famous Spencer House, many terraced buildings were also built. Despite the fact a family’s country house might have hundreds or thousands of acres of land, it was not uncommon for them to live in these terraced houses in the city. In fact, it’s these buildings that are most associated with the term today.
Interestingly, areas such as Kensington and Hampstead were countryside hamlets outside the City of London up until the 19th century, when the city underwent dramatic growth. This means that mansions in these areas, such as the famous Holland House, which was mostly destroyed by German firebombing in 1940, are, technically speaking, not true townhouses.
Growing Interest from Overseas
Over the last twenty years or so, wealthy buyers from all over the world have been investing in property in the UK capital. In fact, recent figures show that 69% of new buyers in the market were not British, with almost half of them not even residents in the UK. Many reports have stated that the majority of these buyers come from Europe, the Middle East, and Russia, but over the last several years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of interested parties from East Asian countries, particularly China.
This has led to the fear that some of these buyers will continue to sit on homes and watch their value increase, with no interest in living in them or renting them to others. There is even the so called “Billionaire’s Row,” a North London street where there is estimated £350m of derelict mansions left to rot.
Whatever the future holds for these homes and London’s property market as a whole, you can’t help but be impressed by some of the properties on the market today. Their period features offering a distinct contrast to modern architecture that makes up much of the capital today.