It is interesting to look back over prices of Barbican properties in the 15 or so years we have been publishing Barbican Life. In our first issue in a feature with the rather anodyne title of Barbican Housing Market – it became Flat Watch in our second issue in Summer 2004 – we looked at pricing per square foot for asking prices for Barbican properties and came up with an average of £472 per square foot. There was obviously something of a variation based on decorative order of the properties for sale and their location within the Estate with high elevation tower block properties commanding something of a premium for example.
Although our assessment was based on asking prices rather than actual sales price achieved, the Barbican property market was on the up at that time and a couple of agents we talked to then had noted some sales being achieved at above the asking price level . Indeed by our second issue we assessed the then average price per square foot at £505 per square foot indicating a strongly rising market. Of course those who bought their properties in the early days of the right-to-buy legislation, which came into force in 1980, would have seen enormous gains in value.
Barbican property prices have had their ups and downs since then but broadly we have seen a decently rising annual trend. We are probably seeing something of a hiatus at present due to Brexit uncertainties, but a similar exercise to that conducted in our first issue sees prices averaging around £1,284 per square foot suggesting Barbican flat prices have risen 172% over the past 15 years – or something a little over 11% a year – a pretty decent return on investment if one looks at a flat purchase as an investment.
Once again there is quite a disparity in pricing levels per square foot between types of property with the high-up tower block flats with sought-after views to the south and west commanding the highest price levels. It is also notable that those who have spent capital on redesigns and refurbishments of their apartments are often achieving above-average returns.
Interestingly Barbican specialist agency Frank Harris has chosen in this issue to feature prices achieved for a Type 21 apartment over the years in their advertisement on pages 2 and 3 of this issue, which shows the gains in Barbican prices over the years confirming some of the above figures for price appreciation. The agency has also come up with a range of letting price achievements over the years in the same advertisement.
One other interesting factor to note is that several of the individual people at those estate agents we approached for comments on the state of the Barbican flat market back in 2004 are still at the same agencies today and thus represent a huge fount of knowledge on all things Barbican. These include Glen Cook at Hamilton Brooks, who has probably been around the Barbican the longest of all, Tina Evans at Frank Harris and Nick Scott who had just started up Scott City at that time after previously working at Frank Harris. All of these were among the commentators on the Barbican flat market in our very first issue and are just as active at their respective agencies today! We also carried details of research from Hurford Salvi Carr, another local agency. The research division is headed up by David Salvi and we often refer to the very comprehensive HSC research into area trends today.
What is also apparent from the agents’ comments below is that the two issue which have been affecting property prices here – Brexit and Crossrail – have both been sufficiently delayed as to begin to be something of a non-issue today with flat price increases starting to revert to the Barbican norm. The Estate, through the solidlity of its construction, its sometimes maligned, but generally benign, management and its location on the edge of London’s central business district remains a very popular location in which to buy property and prices look to be moving up again as a consequence.
The Barbican was built to last. It may now be celebrating its first 50 years of occupancy but it still looks to have at least an equally long future too.
ESTATE AGENTS’ COMMENTS
Glen Cook at Hamilton Brooks: When the Barbican was first conceived, the visionary Architects Chamberlin, Powell & Bon devised City apartments for City workers. As a testament to their success we sell apartments that are on the market for the first time in 50 years. I sold my first flat to a City worker from New York in 1987, and Tony (he will know who he is) is still in the same apartment today. Over the past 50 years the buying demographic has slowly evolved we now still see City workers buying but they are in the minority, we see more media, architectural, technology/digital workers (the new type of City worker). The Barbican is more attractive visually and physically to new buyers than ever before. Original features are like marmite so love them or hate them they are slowly becoming rarer. What’s not changed is the brutal allure of the sense of community, security and strong identity the Barbican has. The amount of change going on around the Barbican Centre is staggering, Crossrail, Museum of London move to Smithfield, new concert hall, culture mile, the moving of Smithfield Meat Market. Once all are completed the Barbican will be at the centre and even more of an attractive oasis of calm. Happy Anniversary Barbican. www.hamiltonbrooks.co.uk
Tina Evans at Frank Harris: The biggest trend we have seen so far this year within the Barbican estate is residents trading up, with the price differential being smaller than in previous years. All styles of Barbican flats are still in demand, please do call me for an up to date appraisal. We are excited about the estate’s 50th anniversary and have found some interesting data on our early sales going as far back as 1986, we will share some of the FH archives with residents as the year progresses. We’re predicting a busy summer on sales. www.frankharris.co.uk
Tom O’Halloran at Thomas Michael: I feel there is more positivity in the sales market than there was at this time last year. As the political uncertainty continues, a lot of previously nervous buyers are no longer holding off and are starting to return to the market. While we are not yet seeing the price increases of previous years this agency has agreed two sales in the last 3 weeks and I have a number of credible registered buyers – some looking for Tower flats especially. www.thomasmichael.co.uk
Nick Scott at Scott City: We have seen a much improved market in the last 3 months with confidence returning especially in the Barbican. Many more properties have sold and we now find stock levels low again. The Barbican has fared better than other parts of the City, demand has improved and continues to do so. We are now finding a lack of supply of all styles of Barbican flats, fewer properties on the market arguably makes it a better time to sell. Please visit our website www.scottcity.co.uk
Marco Fugaccia at Hurford Salvi Carr: Firstly Hurford Salvi Carr would like to wish the Barbican residents a very happy 50th Birthday celebration. Hurford Salvi Carr have been delighted to help buyers, sellers landlords and tenants move into and out of this iconic development on our doorstep over the past 23 years. With Spring well under way we have seen an increase in demand from motivated and proceedable buyers and tenants all keen to secure a home in the Barbican and take advantage of the gardens and lake during the warmer months. We have continued demand which currently we cannot sustain and despite political uncertainness, the Barbican is certainly bucking the trend. If you are looking to sell or let your home please contact Angela or Marco, we would be delighted to help you. www.hurford-salvi-carr.co.uk
Alex Childs at AW Childs: We are experiencing an increase in buyer and seller activity across the City with strong demand for mid-price level properties. If you have been waiting to sell now might just be the right time. www.awchilds.co.uk
Joe Davison at Scott City: The rental market in the Barbican and surrounding area is still very good. We have had an increase in our stock levels which is keeping up with the continuous high levels in demand and with Summer fast approaching, this is showing no signs of slowing down.
Mark Scoging at AW Childs: Demand for rental accommodation in the City remains strong in these uncertain times. We are, however, seeing more applicants asking for break clauses to allow them flexibility in an uncertain employment market.