Britain’s Hottest Properties – Inside The Super Prime Home Market

Sarah Beeny: How to make sure your property sells quickly at the best price

FROM historic castles to stately homes, millionaires’ mansions to high-tech penthouse blocks, Britain is home to some of the world’s most expensive houses. And discerning buyers who are willing to spend seven- or eight-figure amounts expect the best. “People who deal with exceptional things want exceptional service,” says John Fisher, one of the real estate agents, in a new Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary, Britain’s Most Expensive Houses.


Amberwood House was once owned by Margo Fonteyn (Image: Channel 4)


£ 30M: MODERN MANOR HOUSE Harford Manor, situated in 40 acres of polo land in Windsor (Image: Channel 4)

Billed as the UK’s equivalent of Selling Sunset, the California Netflix real estate porn series, it follows potential buyers when they watch and buy conspicuously expensive homes. The first episode tonight takes viewers through the doors of historic estates in Berkshire and Wales, a striking apartment in London owned by a celebrity and a famous prima ballerina’s party pillow.

The program opens with John and colleague Mary Roberton watching Harford Manor for £ 30 million on behalf of a French-Moroccan millionaire. The client is based in Dubai and cannot travel to the UK due to Covid travel restrictions, so John and Mary act as agents.

Set in 40 acres of Polo land just outside Windsor, Harford Manor is a 21st-century version of the classic English country house – 22 times the size of the average British home. It has four reception rooms, a dining area that seats 32 comfortably, a fitness center, a swimming pool, stables, wine cellar and neighborhoods for all the staff needed to run it.

Many of the country’s most prestigious and expensive homes never appear on the open market, and sales have been facilitated through agents such as John, who is part of the real estate company Sotheby’s International Realty. He found out that Harford was available for purchase after being invited to a party there by its owner.


£ 3M: ​​MAD JACK’S CASTLE Otterburn Castle, Northumberland, was once owned by Mad Jack Hall (Image: Channel 4)

“You’re not going to wander through Rightmove or Zoopla and find it lurking there,” John says. But of course, it’s not him who buys it – John has to convince potential owners to make an offer. He has an eye for the big commission he will earn if he gets the deal across the line, but will he make it before the seller loses patience? “We’ve had the interest, but closing it is another matter,” John admits.

IN THE MIDDLE, fellow Sotheby’s agent Shereen Malik-Akhtar shows customers an apartment in St Pancras Chambers, London’s iconic Class I, formerly the Midland Grand Hotel. Located on the second floor of the bell tower, the £ 4.6 million apartment is currently owned by model and actress Lily Cole. The Spice Girls filmed the video for their 1996 hit Wannabe on the building’s former central staircase.

Looking around is Anastasia, originally from Skt. Petersburg, Russia, but now living in London, where she owns a Harley Street clinic specializing in dermal fillers and Botox. With a budget of up to £ 5 million, she wants to sell up in Russia and buy in London.

“I own a couple of properties in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and I plan to sell some of them because I plan to stay permanently in London,” she explains. St Pancras Chambers is not for her, and she eventually buys an apartment worth £ 4.1 million off plan in the new Battersea power plant.

Back at the Sotheby’s office, CEO Guy Bradshaw has a meeting with Kam Babaee, CEO of Housing Construction, K10 Group, about Plas Glynllifon. It is one of the most expensive properties on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales and this is where Guy used to spend his childhood summer holidays.

Plas Glynllifon is an exquisite neoclassical mansion in class I, built in 1836. Plas Glynllifon has 102 rooms and once hosted the official ball to celebrate Prince Charles’ inauguration at the nearby Caernarfon Castle. It was last on the open market two years ago at a bid price of £ 2 million, which might seem like a good deal, but it takes serious structural work to restore it.

There are few people in the world who are capable of taking on these kinds of projects, and Guy has to find them quickly before the mansion falls into a state of irreversible decay. Enter Kam, a London-based property developer with a track record in restoring historic buildings. He knows that it requires a budget of £ 20 million to restore the property, but makes an offer.

In the super-prime real estate world, contacts and networking are key, and a broker’s little black book is their best asset. Demand doubled last summer as the international super-rich gradually returned to the UK, and brokers need all the benefits of the competitive super-prime market.


This apartment of £ 4.6 million. in Grade I-listed St Pancras Chambers belongs to actress Lily Cole (Image: Channel 4)

The head of the country office, Jason Corbett, has a personal connection to Otterburn Castle, Northumberland, because it was once the hC owl owned by his ancestor, “Mad Jack Hall,” who lost his lands after the Jacobite Rebellion. Jason is doing everything he can to get the £ 3 million listing, including using his mother to try to convince owner Elena that he is the broker for the job.

Meanwhile, Shereen is trying to sell a £ 12 million penthouse on the 42nd floor of Southbank Tower in London and has attracted the interest of a young entrepreneur. The problem is that it is being sold “shell and core”, which means it is one large space with no interior walls and an additional £ 1.8 million will be required to convert it into a home.

A complete contrast to the SouthbankTower is Jelleys Hollow in the heart of the Surrey Hills. This stunning property worth £ 2.65 million in Cranleigh was a movie location in Star Wars and the remake of Beauty And The Beast.

“Jelley’s Hollow is named after a 17th-century highwayman,” says John. “A bit of a Dick Turpin character. It’s very much what I would call a Hans and Gretel hut. Um, a bit of a gingerbread place.” Another property on his books is a £ 3.6 million Arts and Crafts mansion on the unlikely location of the Bognor Regis, built in the 1920s for a Rolls-Royce director. This beachfront beauty has five bedrooms and six bathrooms and comes with games and cinema rooms and its own guesthouse by the beach.

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It has an indoor pool, a spa center and spectacular coastal surroundings with direct access to the beach. But it costs more than 11 times the average property in Bognor, also home to a Butlins holiday camp, so John searches for London for a buyer.

BUT the £ 3.6million price tag is small change compared to the £ 75million sought for Amberwood House in Knightsbridge, the former West London home of prima ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn. The Royal Ballet star hosted glamorous parties there for people like Princess Margaret, Peter Sellers, Rudolf Nureyev, Yves Saint Laurent, John Wayne and JFK.

Built in 1928, it was extended four years ago in a £ 28 million renovation. The Portland Stone Stairs cost £ 580,000. It has eight bedrooms and a triple basement. But to secure the massive commission at this price, Sotheby’s has to persuade the owner to let them sell Amberwood. Ultimately, John says, it’s about trust. “You’re dealing with people’s lives. People will let you sell their house if they trust you to do what they want.”

Britain’s most expensive houses start on Channel 4 at 9pm tonight

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