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McDowell’s eponymous firm, which buys and sells, had an excellent final quarter of 2016 — the best in two years — despite a difficult year for London property. This was ‘based entirely on the weakening pound,’ says the charming and forthright McDowell.
Holland Park, Kensington, Belgravia and Knightsbridge have seen especially high levels of activity on the selling side, with less movement in Chelsea. ‘Oddly enough we’ve sold mostly houses, but that bucks the market,’ he says, referring to the growing appetite among buyers for lateral flats with porter and parking.
Now is the time to buy, especially if you’re dollar-denominated, he says, and the view among investors at the moment is that UK plc is robust in the medium to long term. ‘I had a client today who said there’s going to be a pretty sharp rise in prime London real estate in about eighteen months’ time,’ he says. ‘This is a view shared by quite a few people.’
While there has been a correction in the market and much of the stamp duty increase has been mitigated by the weakening pound, McDowell is still critical of the ‘prohibitive’ 15 per cent transaction costs that are discouraging people from moving. The charges ‘aren’t sustainable’, he says with characteristic frankness. ‘There’s no doubt about it that the government needs to