Striking it Ritchie

14 May 2016 – by Alexander Peace

Selling a multi-million-pound scheme as the prime London residential market takes a tumble might seem like a bad idea, but Bruce Ritchie has seen it all before.

Picture by Tom Campbell

Photo by Tom Campbell

The 58 flats at Garden House, 86-92 Kensington Gardens Square, W2, sit in the kind of plush West London spot where an affable, soggy-haired British actor might leap the fence at any moment in the final act of a formulaic rom-com.

It is the sort of scheme which, up to a year ago, would have sold for silly money, and attracted investors from far and wide muttering phrases like “prime central London” and “safe haven”.

So why is Bruce Ritchie, chief executive of Residential Land and one of the better-known figures in the prime London residential rental world, bringing it to market now – his first scheme for individual private sale in a number of years?

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The answers are simple: because it fits into the sub-£1.5m tax bracket – he bought it at a low price in 2001 and now it needs refurbishment. And because it is important to keep moving.

Speaking at Garden House, Ritchie says. “When you have institutional partners, it’s very important to prove the model, to show that you can sell something. It isn’t all about what it is valued at every year,”

“Being the kind of partner who can show that the prices put on buildings are actually real is a very important thing to do, particularly if you are going to carry on growing.”

And Ritchie has kept moving. While rental operators struggle to build portfolios at scale, he has amassed 1,500 units around central London, and while that market teeters, he continues to buy and sell – acquiring 39 Hill Street, W1, in December for £100m, and selling Kew Bridge Court, W4, to Grainger in February for £57.3m.

Click here to read the full interview

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