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A ‘plaque’ on both your houses

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Knight Frank
London and Country specialist property buying agents
19 Apr 2016  |   Philip Eastwood

Blue plaque - Neville Chamberlain

When Baroness Thatcher’s former residence on Chester Square in Belgravia was put on the market some reports suggested that it would generate significant interest from foreign purchasers attracted to the thought of owning such a ‘trophy’ asset and a piece of history. As a result, we were asked whether a premium is placed on a property of historical significance, or homes of a person of public interest where blue plaques are in place.

In my opinion the answer is no, except perhaps in the rarest of cases.

In a marketplace where information has become much more freely available, purchasers are now far more well-informed and discerning. Publicly available information on historic sales and average price/square foot in an area means that if the seller expects their property to sell for a premium, there needs to be a significant and intrinsic value to differentiate it from the competition. This could be in the shape of a large roof terrace, extraordinary views, exceptional ceiling heights, or a concierge service operated by a nearby high-end hotel. A blue plaque is unlikely to command the same weight or premium as the property’s characteristics or location. English Heritage even states that there is no firm evidence to suggest that a plaque will add to the value of a property and the presence of a plaque does not offer a building any legal protection where no listing exists.

What is more likely is that having a blue plaque will increase the level of interest in a property, generate more viewings and potentially achieve a quicker sale. Although, this depends to some extent on who the former resident was, Winston Churchill and Baroness Thatcher for instance, I am sure would generate more interest than Harry Beck (creator of the schematic Tube map!). Fundamentally, the plaque itself does not add anything tangible to the property and as such should never be considered as a reason to add value. As an advisor I would always discourage a buyer from paying a premium for a property with a plaque as, for the purpose of re-sale, one cannot assume that the next buyer will feel the same way.

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