Some buyers will be prepared to compromise on just about every aspect of a property except the view. Roderick Easdale examines the value of a good outlook.
You can improve the house, but rarely the view: Hare Cottage in Donhead St Mary, Wiltshire, enjoys this spectacular outlook. £1.85 million through Savills (01722 426820).
A survey carried out by Savills into what buyers of prime property outside London seek from their new home found that the most desired attribute is a good view. Views sell houses and can add as much as 85% onto the price of a property. Rupert Sweeting, head of Knight Frank’s country department (020–7861 1078), says that ‘35% of our buyers ask for properties with views. Having grown up in a house with a view, I can confirm that once you’ve had one, it’s difficult to move to somewhere without one’. Lindsay Cuthill, head of Savills country department (020–7016 3820) elaborates: ‘We bought our home because of the wonderful view. I think a lot of people who looked at the property didn’t appreciate it, because the house was so unappealing. More often than not, you can improve how a building looks, but an amazing view is always an amazing view.’
However, a breathtaking view doesn’t necessarily remain as such, as it can be built on or obscured. Matthew Hallett of Winkworth in Salisbury (01722 443000) advises: ‘Heritage sites, AONBs and conservation areas are unlikely to change and so a direct view of these will hold its price. A view that can be lost easily is unlikely to bring much added value. Water, like a dreaming spire or rolling hills, is eternally popular.’ The most popular water views can add 85% to the price of a house, according to the latest Knight Frank Waterfront Index. Through comparing similar houses with dissimilar views, Knight Frank calculates that homes situated on estuaries command the largest uplift, about 85% on average, compared with a similar property inland. Prime harbour-side properties enjoy a price advantage of 83%. The sea is only the fourth most popular type of water view, bringing an added value of 56%, just behind a river, which adds 57%. And an outlook to a lake bumps up the price by 37%. The value of a waterfront view depends upon the area. It is at its greatest in the south-west of England at 75% and, across the UK as a whole, the uplift is 60%. However, in Wales, it is only 27% and 31% in Scotland.
‘Fashions change, as do weather patterns,’ reflects Mr Hallett. ‘I’ve sold houses with flooded lawns and cellars—waders in a basement are often a giveaway to a wet cellar— without issue. With full disclosure, this comes with the territory. These buildings were designed to resist cycles of Nature and have stood the test of time, alongside all that the British weather can muster. Architectural styles have patterns of popularity, but a decent sunset, a babbling brook, open downland or an ancient landmark will always be popular.’
Rooms with a view are as equally prized in the urban landscape as in the countryside, if not more so. As Caspar Harvard-Walls, a partner at independent property-buying agency Black Brick (020–3141 9861), explains: ‘In a high-density city such as London, the premium attached to a view can be extraordinary. At the top of the charts are properties that look directly onto a park. Not only are they extremely rare, but their views are protected. The most expensive street in the UK is Kensington Palace Gardens, where the best homes have a view into the gardens and over the palace and can go for more than £100 million.
‘A penthouse in One Hyde Park recently sold for £140 million in a shell-and-core condition,’ continues Mr Harvard-Walls. ‘It had a terrace overlooking Hyde Park. At close to £9,000 per sq ft, this shows what some people are willing to pay for a fantastic outlook. Although it’s difficult to make comparisons as there are no apartments of equivalent size, those without a park view tend to sell for about £5,000–£6,000 per sq ft.’ This is the most expensive flat ever sold in the UK. A house in Cornwall Terrace, a Grade I-listed terrace with views over Regent’s Park, sold last year for £80 million, making it the most expensive terraced house in the UK.
If you can’t afford a park outlook, one over a communal garden is a little bit cheaper. ‘Of these, perhaps the most exclusive is Eaton Square in Belgravia,’ suggests Mr Harvard- Walls, ‘where properties have traded at more than £6,000 per sq ft. We have a client for whom we are searching at the moment, who is prepared to pay a premium of 30% to be on the square rather than on the streets immediately behind. People aren’t prepared to compromise on having a good view.’