There’s been much speculation over the properties owned by beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya, in the eye of a storm for failing to honour loans worth Rs 9,000 crore from Indian banks.Various news reports say he has moved from his Baker Street home in London to his country home in Hertfordshire. For many Indians, the need to set roots in that country does not come as a suprise.
The reason why HNWIs from India remain focussed on the UK is because of London’s reputation as a safe and stable place for investment, especially in the current volatile world economy. Its real estate has also been doing very well over the past few years due to increase in global investments resulting in an ever-increasing demand for space.
Wealthy Indian families and businesses are one of the largest overseas property buyers in prime central London areas such as Mayfair and Belgravia. It is estimated they have splashed almost £1billion on luxury homes and buildings in such exclusive areas in recent years. Over 3,000 Indian families owning property in famous London districts have invested in both luxury residential and prime commercial estates, especially Mayfair, which is the cultural and luxury hub of London. Other locations include St James, Kensington and Chelsea.
London based art curator Sharan Seth ensures that most of his meetings, events, art and luxury activities, auctions are held in and around Mayfair, which is one of the most visited places by tourists as well. “We are located close to this place and I will shortly be moving to peripheries of Mayfair as it’s quite close to our workplace and a hub of our activities,” he says
Figures from Luxhabitat, a real estate brokerage and interior design company, say Indian buyers are one of the largest overseas investors purchasing properties in Mayfair, making up a quarter of all sales. They continue to lead the way ahead of Russians, Middle Eastern and Asian buyers.
Zeyad Al Saffar, head of London luxury sales at Luxhabitat, says “I am not surprised that Indians are buying in London, with Mayfair the preferred postcode, boasting the finest British luxury brands in the world.”An Indian family he says typically spends between £1 million and £20 million on buying a home in Mayfair, with 70% purchasing an apartment or penthouse. The rest want to buy large mansions, mews and beautiful Victorian style homes. Indian investors, apart from Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Chelsea, which are most definitely prime, also focus on close neighbourhoods, including Westminster, Victoria and Pimlico. These are the new luxury golden postcodes, with beautiful balcony views of the iconic Big Ben, London Eye and the famous Shard building.
Westminster is also definitely set to gain from the £2bn redevelopment of neighbouring Victoria and a ripple effect from prime central London.
Developers are converting old office buildings – often formerly owned or occupied by government departments – into new lateral homes with fantastic views of Big Ben and the River Thames. Real estate values have also been on the upswing. According to a recent report by property consultants Knight Frank, between July 2014 and July 2015, some 63% of buyers worth over £10 million were non-British. Among the non- Brits the biggest investors are from the Middle East, Qatar, Russia, China and India. According to a recent Savills report titled The World and London 2015, French buyers are concentrated in South West London, and prime Central is preferred by Indians.