In the 1990s, the radical artist Joshua Compston aspired to be London’s answer to Andy Warhol. Compston wore a white suit, set up a gallery in Shoreditch called Factual Nonsense and arranged art festivals on Hoxton Square, such as 1993’s “The Fete Worse Than Death”. Here, Damien Hirst dressed as a clown to peddle his first spin paintings, Gavin Turk ran a “Bash the rat” stall, Tracey Emin sold kisses for 50p and a man named James Goff barbecued tuna fish tails.
In hindsight, the event seems to have been a turning point for the area — once a gritty warehouse district on the fringe of the City — and its property market. “Within a year and a half”, wrote the artist Gary Hume, “everything had gone up in price.”
Between 1995 and 2015, house prices in Hoxton increased 380 per cent in real terms, according to Land Registry data compiled by LonRes. In 2015, the price of a square foot of Hoxton real estate hit £945, roughly comparable to Fulham, the west London enclave popular with bankers and their families.
However, bigger rises have meant bigger falls. In the first half of this year, the average property price in Hoxton was 16 per cent lower than in the first half of 2016, according to LonRes — putting prices roughly in line with where they were back in 2014.
Agents say the drop was triggered by an exodus of buy-to-let investors in the wake of changes to stamp duty and landlords’ tax relief. In 2015, buy-to-let investors accounted for about 60 per cent of sales, says James Turner of Dexters Clerkenwell: now they make up 20 per cent.
Investors are being replaced by first-time buyers, he says, estimating that they now account for 60-70 per cent of the market. Or rather, their parents do.
“The vast majority” have financial help from their families, says Grant Bates of Hamptons International.
Transaction volumes, while still low, have been creeping up. Last year there were 327 sales in Hoxton, according to Land Registry data compiled by Hamptons International. That is nearly 100 more than 2017, but still 30 per cent below 2014 levels. Discounts on asking price are increasing. “Everyone is open to a deal now,” says Turner, “if they’re not, they’re not going to sell.”
Local developers have transformed the area around Old Street roundabout — known as Silicon Roundabout because of the abundance of tech firms in the area — building high-rise homes along parts of City Road.
At number 145 is the Atlas, a 302-unit new-build project that completed in June. Residents have access to a digital concierge service called “Atlas online” and a farm store, which will sell wasabi rucola and Peruvian mint. The project launched in 2015 and 280 apartments have sold so far, says Andrew Hawkins, director at Rocket Properties, the developer. Some 70 per cent of sales have been investment purchases, he says, with 50 per cent of buyers coming from overseas, primarily Hong Kong and China.
Penthouse in HKR, £1.23m
Dash, a new-build scheme with 47 market-rate units, is expected to complete in September. Perks include an electronic postal collection service. Prices start at £660,000 for a one-bedroom flat, says Andy Fancy, managing director at Countryside, the developer. Since sales launched six months ago, nine have sold.
Supply is ramping up: the first phase of the 175-unit Makers Shoreditch is due to complete this summer, with studios starting at £620,000. In Eagle Wharf Road, where 36 warehouse-style apartments are due to complete in December, Stone Real Estate is marketing a three-bedroom flat for £895,000. In the 198-unit Anthology Hoxton Press, two hexagonal towers near Shoreditch Park, prices start at £720,000; and in the 66-unit HKR on Hackney Road, which will complete at the beginning of 2020, Savills is selling a three-bedroom penthouse for £1.23m. Some apartments in the scheme have already had their prices reduced — a two-bedroom unit originally priced at £815,000 is now being marketed at £729,999.
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So does anything of old Hoxton remain? “There are two parts of the area,” says Paul Fleming, executive director of the Hoxton Trust. There are the longstanding residents and those who live in the social housing that makes up 40 per cent of Hoxton’s stock, and the wealthy buyers in the new developments. “Certainly, I speak to residents and neighbours who feel that they are being a bit left behind”, says Fleming. “On Hoxton Street you have the greasy spoon on one corner and the flat white and ciabatta on the other corner,” he adds.
Today, there are no grilled tuna fish tails for sale, but James Goff has, incidentally, had a long career as a London estate agent.
Damien Hirst (left) at ‘The Fete worse than death’ (1993) © Alamy
There were 35 £1m-plus sales in Hoxton in 2018, according to Land Registry data compiled by Hamptons International, up from 28 in 2017 but 22 per cent below 2014 levelsPrime sale prices in Shoreditch fell 2.4 per cent in the year to March, against a prime central London average fall of 3.7 per cent, according to SavillsHoxton is in the London borough of Hackney, where the council tax charge for a mid-level (band D) home comes to £1,455 per year
What you can buy for . . .
£500,000 A one-bedroom flat in HKR
£1.26m A three-bedroom apartment in Dash
£5m A three-bedroom house on Hoxton Square
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