AWS Prime is a bespoke buyer's brokerage based in London, now offering unique services to prime investors in Asia. Conscious that foreign investors were on the backfoot when trying to buy luxury properties in London, the Knightsbridge-based company advises Asia-based buyers on the best acquisition opportunities in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC).
[October 2020] AWS Prime is a bespoke buyer's brokerage based in London, now offering unique services to prime investors in Asia. Conscious that foreign investors were on the backfoot when trying to buy luxury properties in London, the Knightsbridge-based company advises Asia-based buyers on the best acquisition opportunities in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC).
Broadly between Chelsea and The Thames up to Notting Hill, RBKC is a tranche of southwest and prime central London features the most remarkable heritage properties - but also crucially the most liveable areas where properties are also guaranteed to hold and increase in value.
A former Savills agent for twelve years, AWS Prime’s founder Alex Woodleigh-Smith set up his own business eight years ago as an out-and-out search agent on the buy side. As the London model has moved away from High Street agencies to more of a bespoke broker environment, his insider insights, knowledge and experience allows him to directly advise buyers who are looking to deploy equity in the city's famed safe haven for international investors.
Unique access for Ultra high-net-worth buyers
A long period of soft market activity has meant a rocky and uncertain market since around 2015, but even with the big increase in stamp duty, Brexit and now Covid, people don't want to bet against London. For example, agents Knight Frank recently reported that year-on-year UK sales to Aug 16th are up 62%.
Areas like Chelsea, South Kensington and Knightsbridge were some of the hardest hit, but that means that there is now the most value to be had, especially when the comparatively cheap pound is added into the equation. These are the truly liveable wealthy parts of London that are now leading the recovery.
As an example of this unique access in action, Woodleigh-Smith swiftly acquired a breath-taking 18th century house for a previous client because he knew that he loved the street, St. Leonard's Terrace, a handsome tree-lined Georgian terrace off Hospital Road in Chelsea. Woodleigh-Smith had heard of a house there through another contact, but the seller wasn't even necessarily going to put it on the market.
Woodleigh-Smith states: "We approached them and brokered the deal on the spot, a sale at just under £9million. We put it all together, viewed at 9am and then exchanged the next day at lunchtime. We essentially created the market for it. It's an exclusive spot with views over Burton Court and Cricket Grounds across to the Royal Hospital, as well as a huge garden."
Why heritage buildings always trump buying off-plan
Woodleigh-Smith also reveals that the case for buying heritage and period properties, as opposed to new builds off-plan, couldn't be clearer. "Firstly it's the scarcity value, simple supply-and-demand economics. New builds may have 800 units - with another 700 being built next to you - so when you want to sell or re-let you'll be up against 20-30 near identical units in the scheme, which significantly drives down prices. The reasons to buy new builds simply don't outweigh the fact that they won't hold their value, given considerable over-supply."
He cites the reality that investors - including many from Asia - poured money into off-plan new build investments. "Buying in 2015, they were promised growth prospects, but five years on they’re trying to sell before completion at the same figure that they paid at purchase. It's not the ROI investors imagined, but this story is unfortunately all too common in the London new build arena."
True London ROI
Another way that investors are seeing London is through investing in the rental market in properties around the £750,000 - £1m price bracket.
Woodleigh-Smith comments: "You have to buy well to get the rental yield return that you'll be happy with. There used to be much higher yields, but today to net out at 2.5% is impressive. Buying re-imagined conversions with 10-20 flats is much more interesting than generic new builds. They are rarer, more charming and beautiful, while there's also that scarcity value when you sell."
For Asian buyers looking to invest with guaranteed good ROI, less central areas like leafy Clapham are a good option as it sits barely 15 minutes by train from the financial heart of the city. Through knowing all the key agents and really understanding the rental market, Woodleigh-Smith can considerably drive prices down for buyers.
"My top tip for investors is that if you are set on buying new build, make sure you buy in an exclusive, boutique, development with a very limited number of flats. Old character buildings that have been reimagined into high specification apartment blocks have even more appeal as they enjoy the best of both worlds. All the refinement and modernity of a new build but within a period, characterful setting, such as in Bakery Place in Clapham, as outlined below."
"For our buyers, this process is an extension of their lifestyle, so everything is taken care of for them. The very best on the market in London are never on the internet – we’re offering off-market, money-can’t-buy properties. What these buyers need - and what we offer - is that unique access. We buy on the most favourable terms, save our clients time and ensure they buy with confidence at the right price. I've been an agent for 20 years so have cultivated a contact book across all avenues of property: from architects to surveyors, interior designers to investors, agents to freeholders - everyone needed for a seamless, expertly-informed transaction."
For media enquiries:
Dominique Backhouse, Companion Communications
About AWS Prime
AWS Prime, founded in 2008, is an expert property buying company based in Knightsbridge, London. The specialist team sources exceptional real estate for private clients often off the open market in London. AWS Prime guide their buyers through the notoriously complex and competitive prime central London real estate market ensuring that the purchasing process is positioned in the most favourable terms, simplifying the process and maximising the prospect of sourcing outstanding property acquisitions.
AWS Prime has become the go-to company for many international private clients looking to buy homes or investment real estate in London. The company prides itself on its deep professional knowledge and expertise in brokering private deals.