London sets new record with $297m apartment sale

London sets new record with $297m apartment sale

LONDON - London's red-hot property market has struck a new record with the sale of a 140 million pound (S$297 million, US$237 million) unfurnished apartment, but even the developer of the opulent building warned that some asking prices in Britain were unsustainable.

Buoyed by the wealth of Russian oligarchs, Chinese tycoons and Arab sheikhs, London has become one of the most expensive markets on earth, raising concerns ahead of parliamentary elections in 2015 that locals are being squeezed out of the market.

"We're in boom-time prices, more expensive than we've ever been in the history of mankind," Nick Candy, one of the developers of London's One Hyde Park luxury apartments, at the pinnacle of the capital's super-prime residential sector, told Reuters.

"There is a concern over the market overheating ... Everyone thinks the main central London is doing so well, (so) the ripple effect is going throughout the UK, and some of the prices being achieved are probably unrealistic and not sustainable."

But money is still pouring in.

A source familiar with the matter said an Eastern European buyer bought a penthouse at the One Hyde Park apartment block for a record 140 million pounds.

Candy confirmed that a 16,000 square foot penthouse had been sold but declined to comment on the price or name the buyer. Developer CPC Group, which is run by his brother Christian, said the flat could be worth 160-175 million pounds when furnished.

Britain's previous record for an apartment was set three years ago by Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhemtov, who paid 136 million pounds for a penthouse and apartment at One Hyde Park to knock together into one property.

There have been more than US$2 billion in sales at the block, whose developer is a joint venture between CPC Group and Waterknights, the private company of Qatar's Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani.

Candy & Candy, run by Nick Candy, were the interior designers and development managers for the project.

POLITICAL THREATS

The wall of money chasing a finite amount of property has sent luxury London prices soaring almost 80 per cent since 2009, and while plutocrats' ostentatious purchases grab the limelight, prices have rocketed even in poorer areas.

Prime central London house prices have risen 79.4 per cent since March 2009, against a 40.6 per cent increase in Greater London house prices over the same period, according to data from Savills.

Candy, who with brother Christian started out in 1995 with a 6,000 pound loan from their grandmother, said the main risks to the market were changes in government policy, a rise in interest rates or oversupply at the top end.

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