When London’s intellectuals and artists colonised Hampstead Heath in the 18th century, they were seeking an idyllic space which could be dedicated to reflection and creativity. Hampstead Heath, essentially a vast hilltop viewing platform, still exerts its magnetic pull on Londoners and the surrounding streets continue to fascinate. However, a dramatic view of London can no longer be cited as a totally unique selling point.
The Thames shoreline, with its newly built high-rise vantage points is now a viable alternative when it comes to providing London residents with stunning backdrops of the capital. Properties in Hampstead can no longer rely on their elevated location alone to attract the interest of corporate professionals or wealthy families looking for a suitable home to rent, but what the area does offer is a rich and varied architectural heritage, large outdoor spaces and a community which is keen to preserve the individuality of the village.
Hampstead, probably more than any other London area, is where artistic expression has been applied to architecture as much as it has been to writing or painting. From Neo-Gothic mansions along Arkwright Road to Arts and Crafts cottages off Flask Walk and the immaculate Georgian enclave of Downshire Hill, Hampstead is a pure celebration of beauty and elegance.
Amenities and no-fuss maintenance are what newer property developments bring to the table, but a modernised period conversion situated close to the village or Heath will always have that special cachet that expatriate tenants seek. Rental investors willing to put in the work can make even the most challenging of spaces into attractive accommodation for tenants who are typically looking for a blend of history and a convenient location.
Modern fitted kitchens and bathrooms should be viewed as a basic requirement for any property hoping to attract interest from today’s discerning tenants. Mansion blocks like Greenhill have become adept at maintaining this balancing act. Landlords here are aware of the attractiveness of the building’s period architecture and take great care when renovating their properties. Period features are fine, but if your 19th century windows won’t close properly, your 21st century tenants are liable to complain and move out at first opportunity.
We recently refurbished a one bedroom apartment at Greenhill. The property had been bought some 20 years ago and seen its value more than triple but it had been hardly updated and was achieving a modest rental of £375 per week. We were able to bring it up to date with refurbishment on behalf of the owner and now it is letting for £550 per week, a significant increase. And not only has the rental yield increased, but we’ve also added capital value to the property.
As an investment zone, Hampstead needs to be viewed with a long-term lens. With property price averages in the NW3 postcode now easily topping £1 million, it may well be out of the reach of the average buy-to-let investor. New property development, Kidderpore Green is therefore a slightly less daunting entry point into the Hampstead property market. One bedroom apartments here start at just over £1 million and three bedroom configurations range from £1.45m to £2.75m for a duplex apartment. The Cascades and Centre Heights are two other developments that have followed suit with prices starting at £775,000 for a two bedroom flat as opposed to £1.35m for a comparable period conversion in Kidderpore Avenue. Each of these developments are situated on the western fringes of Hampstead and therefore involve a walk into Hampstead village.
The flagship regeneration scheme in the area can be found closer to the High Street. In the late Nineties the Mount Vernon development set a benchmark for all-inclusive luxury accommodation that is yet to be surpassed in the area. In addition to the 24-hour concierge, gym and pool, residents can look out onto beautifully landscaped private grounds featuring its very own waterfall. Unique in the fact that it occupies a prime position on the summit of the village, Mount Vernon continues to attract interest from celebrities and wealthy individuals. Apartments here rarely come up for rental and fetch sale prices that only fund managers and Premier League footballers wouldn’t think twice about.
Hampstead is close to the West End and the City, owing to its Zone 2 position on the Northern Line Underground. The network consists of two branches that simultaneously access both the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras and the Tottenham Court Rd Crossrail connection. An Overground stop at Hampstead Heath brings the neighbourhood into the orbit of a circular rail system that links many influential places such as Stratford, Imperial Wharf and Clapham without having to journey through the city centre. The High street remains heroically resistant to many of the big chains that dominate mainstream London. Instead there is the presence of numerous fashion outlets and restaurants that can only be found in Hampstead. Independent theatres, cinemas and art galleries are clustered around the main thoroughfare and cultural hotspots like Keats House, Burgh House and the Freud Museum are all within walking distance from one another.
While young corporate professionals may be considering an ever-widening range of accommodation possibilities in London, corporate professionals and city executives with families will still have Hampstead high on their wish list, owing to the number of excellent private schools in the area. Independent secondary schools include some of the UK’s top achieving establishments, notably University College School and South Hampstead High School for Girls. Combine this with a crime rate that is much lower than in Prime Central London, a plethora of cultural and architectural riches, and you’ll see Hampstead offers a complete lifestyle choice and an everlasting appeal.
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