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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The new kings of the wrecking ball: why the super wealthy are demolition happy

In many of today’s sought-after addresses, as soon as the Sold signs come down it’s not the buyers who move in: it’s the builders or the bulldozers.

Once you reach a certain level of wealth, bricks and mortar no longer represent a symbol of solidity and security; they become the latest disposable item. Love the location, but don’t like the house? Where that once meant you should carry on looking, now it simply means you call in the demolition team – and build a very expensive box in its place.

With land and decent, modern houses in short supply in prime areas of London’s commuter belt, buying agents report their high end clients are becoming demolition-happy.

“We often see cases where there is a 50/50 choice for the buyer to refurbish or redevelop – and invariably redeveloping wins the battle,” says Nick Mead, partner at The Buying Solution (Home Counties).

It’s mainly a question of maths: renovation incurs 20 per cent VAT whereas self-build is VAT-free. “There is no financial incentive to do it up. In some ways it’s a crazy, crass waste of perfectly good accommodation, but the answer so often is to flatten and rebuild,” says Mead.

Lack of supply also plays a part, which drives the mentality of 'if you can’t buy it, bulldoze and re-build’. “Great sites are diminishing. These days, the Home Counties, where plot value is probably at its highest, is where this process is most often seen,” Mead comments.

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