Property insider: St John's Wood

James Green, a partner at estate agent Alexander Green Associates in NW8, shares his expert knowledge of this leafy north-west London suburb.
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St John's Wood
© Graham Jepsom
St John's Wood has a "village" high street, grand homes and is close to the West End
As England's cricketers take to the crease against India at Lord's this week, leafy Find properties for sale in St John's Wood

Newcomers love the “village” high street and the easy Tube journey to the West End (only two stops to Bond Street) but it is still surrounded by parks and the beautiful open spaces of Regent's Park and Primrose Hill. The area is popular with families as well as professionals and students. Famous local landmarks include the Abbey Road Studios and Lord's Cricket Ground, so the area is constantly buzzing.

James Green, a partner at Alexander Green Associates has worked in the area for nine years, and says: "it is the first true residential area when you move out of the centre of London. It is certainly a wealthy environment but not intimidating or pretentious. It is a transient area and you will find people from all over the world living here and everyone is welcoming. It has a village feel but is always bustling, particularly in the summer when people sit outside on the high street for a drink."

Loudoun Road, St John's Wood
£450 a week: a one-bedroom apartment set within a unique church conversion in Loudoun Road, with original Gothic features
What types of properties are typical to the area?
Properties in St John's Wood fall into three categories: houses, apartments in purpose built/portered blocks and flats in period conversions. The properties nearest to the high street are mainly beautiful, white-stucco terraced houses and command high prices.

The homes on Avenue Road have to be seen to be believed - most of them are fairly substantial mansions rather than houses, with average rental fees reaching up to £15,000 a week for a home with six or more bedrooms.

There are also some fantastic new-build homes between St John’s Wood and Maida Vale, featuring modern apartments in characteristic buildings, including old churches. Regent’s Park is very close and the houses lining the park are incredibly sought after.

What different types of homebuyers are attracted to this area?
Buyers include families looking for large homes, people downsizing from areas like the West End and Marylebone and professionals from abroad who have been transferred to London offices.

Many investors buy for long-term appreciation but allow their children to use the properties while they study here. The market is very strong at the moment with a large demand from overseas tenants, especially from France and America due to the French School opening in Kentish Town and the American School in Loudoun Road.

Corporate and international tenants go for the bigger, portered blocks rather than conversions as this suits their lifestyles. It is normally the families or local residents that ask for period conversions which are a little further away from the Underground Station but offer a great deal of charm.

What types of renters are attracted to the area – and why?
Our tenants fall in three main categories:
Young professionals: the Jubilee line is a huge draw for young professionals working in Mayfair or Canary Wharf, as is being close to the West End for bars, restaurants and shopping.

Families: there are some very good schools and nurseries in the area including Abercorn School and Arnold House School. Families can rent a nice size property for a lot less than surrounding areas such as Notting Hill or Regent’s Park. It is renowned for being a very safe area.

Corporate market: although this did really slow down in 2008/09, it is back in a big way. A lot of companies in the Middle East send over employees to set up or join existing London offices. Families are also being sent over on work transfers or to strengthen London teams from the legal, finance and trading sectors. Many are here for three years for work projects, and some end up buying.

Has there been any particular trends emerging recently in the rental market in NW8?
This time of year it’s all about the students. Many are from the Middle and Far East and study at the London Business School or the private universities around Regent's Park. For the next six to eight weeks, 80 per cent of our business will be from wealthy international students looking for one- or two-bedroom flats close to Marylebone and Regent's Park.

What are the 'hottest' lettings properties in the area?
We are currently seeing a massive demand for quality family houses with three- to four-bedrooms in east St John's Wood, around the £1,800-£2,750 a week mark. Roads such as Acacia Road, Marlborough Place, St John's Wood Terrace and Loudoun Road are in very high demand.

Student flats with one- or two-bedroom properties that are not at the top end of the market in terms of price, but within walking distance to the Tube are also popular. Lots of students like to live on Abbey Road as it's a tourist landmark they know. The network of roads around Townsend Road and Chalbert Street are sought after as they are conveniently positioned between the park, the high street and the station.

Where are the 'hidden gems'?
St John's Wood Terrace is a great road as it’s just off the high street and very close to the Tube. But because the properties are terrace houses, they tend to be smaller four-bedroom homes – around 2,000 sq ft – rather than the 3,000-4,000 sq ft properties commonly found in surrounding roads. This means they can rent for between £2,250-£2,500 a week rather than £3,500-plus.

What are the best investment opportunities in the area?
One-bedroom properties close to the Tube and the high street are always in huge demand if finished to a good standard. We never have enough one-bedroom flats. Langford Court on Langford Place is a good example of this as it is a well-run, portered block just minutes from the Tube and the high street and we constantly receive enquiries about this block.

How is local parking?
Parking is fairly easy in St John's Wood as there is a good mix of resident permit bays and pay and display. The entire high street is pay and display and most of the side roads are too, so people can easily park when they come in to the area for shopping. The amount of parking available sets St John’s Wood apart from other local high streets and people tend to visit from further afield for this benefit.

What are service charges in the area like?
They are fairly high in some of the portered blocks and the newer blocks in particular have been known to have very high service charges, some in excess of £15,000 a year.

What are your favourite properties to show people?
I love showing houses to families from overseas who do not know London yet. I enjoy being able to talk about St John's Wood and all the interesting a positive points of the area.

If money were no object, where would you buy in the area?
Embassy Court is the newest development here on Finchley Road. People seem to either love it or hate it, but I think it is unbelievable. The standard of this scheme has certainly raised the bar in the area. We let a two-bedroom apartment there in March for £1,200 a week. Otherwise, I love the white, stucco-fronted homes in Abbey Gardens or Marlborough Place with off-street parking and gardens.

James Green is a partner at Alexander Green Associates in St John's Wood

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