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Martin Ballantine, head of residential sales at Carter Jonas, on turn-key properties

Interview: Ellie Costigan

What is a turn-key property?
A turn-key property is new and shiny: a new-build, or a resale property that has been refurbished from the ground up to a high standard, from rewiring to plumbing. It means you’re able to turn up and the property is completely ready, without any issues.

The market has changed over the last few years. People now want that lack of hassle. If you go back five, 10 years, everyone wanted to buy something they could add value to; it was economical, and it meant they could put their own stamp on it. Nowadays, end users don’t want the hassle and expense of doing the works, getting licenses and so on. It’s difficult to get planning in place, and people have become wise to that.

What sorts of buyers do these properties attract?
There are two main types: investors looking for long-term capital growth, and buyers looking for second homes and pieds-a-terre. These people want all boxes ticked; they really won’t compromise. If they want to be in a particularly desirable street and we tell them it will cost them a bit more money, they find a bit more money. Again, these people are looking long-term—so it has to be right.

Before the crash there were lots of wannabe developers who thought, if I just put in a new kitchen and paint it white, I’ve ‘redone’ a flat. That’s not the way it works now. The resale market has declined; people aren’t selling, and when they do they are demanding strong prices. Buyers are looking at that and thinking, actually, I’ll pay for the new product.

The W1 on Marylebone High Street

The W1 on Marylebone High Street

How much availability is there in Marylebone?
There’s been an influx of new builds over the last couple of years: the W1 on Marylebone High Street, Chiltern Place, and there are a few more in the pipeline. In some other parts of London, there’s a concern that properties are left empty. In Marylebone, this is absolutely not the case. Supply is our challenge; we always have the demand.

What are the advantages?
These types of transactions tend to be more straightforward. We recently sold two apartments in Chiltern Place and we exchanged on them in five days, whereas resale units tend to take weeks. With turn-key properties, everything is ready from a seller’s point of view, so we can turn things around quickly. Our professionalism and knowledge are therefore really important: no transaction is straightforward if you’re not managing both sets of relationships properly.

What advice would you give people looking to buy a turn-key property?
From an investor’s point of view, it’s that cliché: location, location, location. We might be able to find you something further out that’s got a heavier discount, but if you’re looking for long-term benefit you want that prime location. The benefit of that is that the Marylebone market is very stable: we’ve been affected by the uncertainties a lot less than in other areas.

Also, it’s about buying the right type of apartment. Our investor on Chiltern Place, for example, wanted a 12th floor view, but his budget was fifth floor. With our knowledge and expertise, we advised him to compromise on the floor, and we could confidently tell him that it won’t have a massive impact on long-term capital growth. We’re experienced local agents who’ve seen market trends; we know what to expect but we also know that you cannot over-promise, or you’ll look a bit silly. We give good, sound, solid advice and when you do that, the client comes back, which is why we get very good repeat business.

Carter Jonas