Deirdre Hipwell, The Times February 3 2014
If buying a luxury home and parking a Mercedes outside the front door is the ultimate sign of success, then business is booming again for the residents of the top neighbourhoods in London.
Research by Savills shows that the resurgence in the economy and the accumulation of wealth among the world’s super-rich have led to large increases in the purchases of luxury homes and cars.
The property consultant said that, in the year to October, there were 254,053 new registrations of Mercedes, BMW and Lexus cars — vehicles that range in price from £27,200 to £73,413. This reflects a 12 per cent rise on the previous period and surpasses the pre-crisis peak in May 2008, when there were 227,728 registrations.
Savills, using data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, added that sales were also rising at the top end of the car market. New registrations of Aston Martins, Bentleys and Porsches rose by 3 per cent to reach 10,400 last year, compared with a low of 6,000 during the recession.
The listing price of a Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is £182,100, which is 74 per cent of the average price of a British home and equivalent to an 80 sq ft parcel of land in Mayfair. An Aston Martin DB9 V12 is not far behind at £143,080, 490 per cent higher than the average house deposit by a first-time buyer.
While luxury car sales have been rising, house sales in Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Camden and Hammersmith & Fulham — four of the capital’s top neighbourhoods — jumped by 10 per cent to 11,500 transactions during the same period. Cash buyers of homes overall rose by 15 per cent last year to reach 372,077 transactions, although this is still some way off the peak of 436,533 in August 2007.
Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, said: “The two major purchases most people will make is a car and a house and what we can see here is there are some people that can afford to make these purchases relatively easily and, in some cases, entirely in cash.”