What Gary Hersham, managing director of Beauchamp Estates and a godfather of the property industry, doesn’t know about prime London real estate isn’t worth knowing. He bought into a small estate agency over 30 years ago and by the end of the year owned the company. Since then, Beauchamp Estates has grown to become a major player on the London premium property scene.
With offices in Mayfair and St John’s Wood, the company specialises in luxury properties from penthouses to new build homes in coveted Central London locations, including Mayfair, Chelsea, Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. Its international teams offer properties in the South of France, Greece, Italy, Gibraltar, Switzerland and the USA.
Hersham has been involved in the sale and acquisition of some major sites in Central London, including the Britannic House West purchased for £198m.
The current London property market, is polarised, he says. “The ordinary market is going to go down and it’s very price sensitive, while the top end is outpacing the rest of the market. There’s a new category called super-prime, properties over £40m going up to £150m. This category really didn’t exist five years ago.
“It’s governed by very wealthy people who can wake up and say, ‘I want a new house – or aeroplane or helicopter’ – things out of the reach of ordinary people. These purchases can take place within a very short period of time.”
Hersham extols Belgravia property for wealthy patrons on the lookout for alternative investments to falling stocks and low interest rates. “It’s super-prime land, prices can only go up and it’s where 90% of customers want to be.
It’s central, near shops and restaurants and convenient if people are only going to be in and out of London,” he says.
Beauchamp Estates has an array of luxury property on its books. “I’ve got some great houses at £50m-£100m, but the most extraordinary current property is a state-of-the-art mews home in Belgrave Mews North, Belgravia,” says Hersham.
The 3,900 sq ft house is unusually wide and has been totally redesigned behind the original façade: “It is an atypical mews house with rear access. It stretches from Wilton Crescent to Belgrave Mews North as its front entrance is facing the rear entrance of the very finest house in Belgrave Square, said to be being constructed by the Emir of the UAE.”
He says 80% of the top end of the market comes from foreign investment. “Principally, at the super end, they’re richer than us. What appeals to foreigners doesn’t often appeal to the British.”
The secret to Hersham’s success, he says, is a personal interest in everything the company does and his unfailing attention to detail. “I don’t like losing sales, big or small. I don’t like losing customers and I never say, ‘So what? It’s not important.’ Everything’s important.”
He rarely offers advice to buyers.
“I don’t tell them anything. Why would I? People don’t ask me those questions. I’m dealing with the phenomenally wealthy who know what they want. There’s nothing I’m going to say that’s going to make a blind bit of difference to them.”
020 7499 7722; beauchamp.co.uk