If there was ever any doubt that outside space in a London home is highly valued, the latest raft of new developments surely prove this. From gardens in the sky – Battersea Roof Gardens will stretch over 255m – to roof terraces, landscaped public areas and winter garden balconies, the great outdoors is being cleverly aligned with indoor spaces.
According to the latest Lloyds Bank Insurance Britain at Home report, 37% of homeowners are spending more time in the garden than five years ago, and the average spend on London gardens is substantially higher than the rest of the UK at £561 compared with £366.
Meanwhile, recent research from London agents Marsh & Parsons reveals that a roof terrace or a balcony adds an average of 12% to the value of a flat, rising to 25% in Chelsea, while access to a communal garden commands an 11% premium on average, and as much as 20% in Little Venice and Holland Park.
Marsh & Parsons estimates that just under a third of flats currently coming on to the market have a balcony, roof terrace or communal garden, attracting more interest and selling faster than equivalent properties with no outdoor space. They estimate that the average price of outdoor space in the capital is £897/sq ft, rising to more than double that (£1,925/sq ft) in South Kensington.
‘Vendors have long been aware of how much value traditional home improvements such as a new kitchen or bathroom can add to a property and this research may just persuade them to convert flat roofs or balconies into habitable outdoor oases,’ comments Peter Rollings, CEO of Marsh & Parsons.
‘A good garden really draws people to a house and not having one reduces the appeal of a property, particularly the further from the centre that they are looking,’ comments Richard Barber of W.A.Ellis. ‘A house in Mayfair may not have much outside space but buyers looking in Kensington and Chelsea – often families looking for a year-round home – require a good-sized, attractive garden. Aspect is also important; south and south-west facing gardens attract a premium. A garden can add 20-25% to a property’s value, not to mention the development potential; one can extend into a garden or up to 50% underneath if the house is Grade II listed.’
It’s no secret that properties on London’s garden squares are highly sought after, particularly those with access, as Ben Davies of Savills Notting Hill explains: ‘These are valued higher than their direct counterparts without, and in Notting Hill, with one of the highest concentrations of private gardens in London, such properties are among the most prestigious of addresses.’
The traditional communal gardens have been emulated by developer London Square, with projects at Fulham and Putney. ‘As well as the landscaped private gardens which come with each house, the square provides a safe place for children to play and a central focus for the community who live there,’ says Rebecca Littler of London Square. The Fulham development, for example, has recently hosted an artisan food market.
‘Having communal as well as private gardens gives a greater sense of space, whilst providing great views from the houses. Creating stylish, landscaped communal gardens is one of the central points of our schemes as we really see the value in creating a community in each of our developments.’
Garden properties do particularly well in the summer, as Choe Leefe of Mountgrange Heritage explains: ‘Because the sun makes people happier they are usually more predisposed to buying a property with good outside space between May to August,’ says.
Ben Rivera of Faron Sutaria agrees: ‘Properties with access to a communal garden are in demand year-round, as residents can enjoy beautiful gardens without the hassle of maintaining them. A roof terrace gives you another room when the weather is good, while a garden provides somewhere for the kids to run around.’
‘We tend to receive more requests for garden flats from spring to autumn,’ says Emma Seaton of Savills Wandsworth, adding that ‘a roof terrace can actually be preferable to some gardens, offering a little more privacy in a quieter flat’.
The premium for property with outside space extends to rentals too, says Tanya Haskings of Faron Sutaria: ‘Despite the numerous parks across the city, tenants regularly request their own private outside space. Given the city’s tendency to convert period properties, garden space is not always available, and therefore roof terraces have become a superb way to maximise the outside space. For landlords, being able to offer some form of private outside space, even if it is on the smaller side, will almost certainly achieve a higher rent.’
How much of an impact does outside space have on property prices? Chestersons shared these examples:
In Barnes a two-bedroom flat (1,265ft2) in Harrods Village sold for £1.16m, while a two-bedroom flat (1,481ft2) with a balcony and a terrace on the same development sold for £1.4m. Taking into account the difference in space, this indicates an 8% increase in value created by having the outside space.
Two almost identical two-bedroom apartments sold recently in City Tower, E14; one with 1,054ft2 internal space and a 476ft2 roof terrace sold for £499,950, while the other, with an internal floor area of 1,075ft2 sold for £462,500, therefore the roof terrace created a premium of 8%.
In Battersea a two-bedroom apartment with a private garden is valued at £695,000, while one without a garden is priced at £657,000, indicating a 5.8% premium.