London-based estate agent Knight Frank reported yesterday that pre-tax earnings for the year ended March 31 had increased 19 percent on an annual basis to a record £162 million, while sales had grown 13 percent to £443.1 million.
The company underscored the outstanding results of its commercial property arm, which brokered the sale of 33 Portland Place in London that featured in the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech. The unit is also involved in the redevelopment of the Shell Centre on the South Bank and in the relocation of the French embassy in London, amongst other projects.
"In the UK, commercial real estate activity has increased and there is now significant life in the sector. Our 10 commercial offices across the UK have had their best year ever,” group chairman and senior partner Alistair Elliott said.
“The regions have spent several years in the doldrums, but we are seeing the commercial lettings market increase, but it must be said this is against a backdrop that has been terrible.”
Elliott noted, however, that Knight Frank’s performance in the residential market had been mixed as changes to stamp duty rules weighed on prime property demand.
"The prime sector is still absorbing the changes to stamp duty made last December, especially in central London. That said, the market continues to be underpinned by a combination of under-supply of housing, the improving economy and the low interest rate environment," Elliott said.
Under new stamp duty legislation, purchases of homes costing between £925,001 and £1.5m carry an additional 10 percent bill, while properties above £1.5m have been hit with an extra 12 percent charge.
The UK tax collection agency, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), reported last week that residential property stamp duty contributed a record £7.5 billion in the 2014/15 financial year.
Notably, over £3 billion was generated by sales in London, while just 10 south-east boroughs contributed over £2 billion.