Investing for the next century

Investing for the next century
Investing for the 
next century

Property Investment Commercial Office Westminster

London property has held value for longer than many financial services have existed. It will continue to do so.

Far too much investment discourse focuses on the short term. At Unica Capital, we create investment management strategies that last for decades, and that create generational and family wealth. The best way to read that far into the future is not to chase the latest investment fad – but to look into the past.

It may seem counterintuitive, but explaining the appeal of London property investing is best done by referencing a theory called “The Lindy Effect”.

It holds, loosely, that the longer a non-perishable good like an institution or cultural product has been active, the longer it will survive.

A book that has been in print for 100 years, like The Great Gatsby, is far more likely to be in print for another 100 years, than a book that came out three months ago. A restaurant active for decades is more likely to survive several more decades unlike the new coffee place that opened last week. Unlike humans, these non-perishable goods get stronger with time.

Applying this wisdom to Central London shows you just how valuable property is here.

People have been living near the Thames for millennia. And while the city has changed massively as it has grown, the desire to live and work in proximity to the City is as strong as ever. When Sir Richard Grosvenor obtained a licence to develop Grosvenor Square in Mayfair in 1710 he knew the area was desirable thanks to its position in the developing metropolis. It was, and it still is 314 years later.

And it isn’t alone. Wardour Street in Soho has been an important thoroughfare since the first maps of London were printed. The streets of Westminster had already been fantastically fashionable for centuries when Virginia Woolf wrote about Mrs. Dalloway walking through them in 1925. People don’t just want to work in central London – they want to shop here, eat here, drink here, walk around here, and live here.

Compare this to NFTs. For a few years they had a lot of buzz and consequently some value. Now researchers suggest about 95% of them hold no value at all.

Of course, London isn’t alone as a city with essentially timeless value. Across Europe there are areas with natural beauty or built amenities that people have been placing great value on for centuries – from larger cities like Geneva and Monaco to small towns. Like Gstaad. These are the places where we focus our investment at Unica Capital.

But it’s worth noting that not all London property is built the same, even in seemingly-prime areas.

Canary Wharf is an example of how the Lindy Effect can devalue newer areas. It may have great transport connections and for a while quite a lot of buzz, but in London terms it is incredibly young – the first building was completed in 1992. We’re now seeing that it has not managed to build real amenity value or staying power in those 32 years. Vacancy rates in the London Docklands area are expected to hit 16.6% by Q4 2024. This doesn’t mean Canary Wharf is doomed – but we are simply not seeing that kind of fallback in prime London locations that are more central.

We’re also not seeing it in buildings that embody the old-world London of prior centuries – the heritage-listed property we seek at Unica Capital.

You can apply the Lindy Effect to architectural styles as well as locations. Concrete and glass towers that were all the rage in the 1970s are often losing value now, while classic buildings in Mayfair made up of distinctive red brick with mansard roofs soar – especially when these classic facades are complimented by modern interiors. And since many of those modernist towers have some level of heritage protection, it’s not like you can just unlock the underlying value of the land beneath it: You could well be stuck with something that many people find ugly and little chance of getting planning permission to enhance the property.

Even if you can get planning permission to demolish and start again, doing so will imperil any investment strategy’s environmental credentials. Building a new building involves a lot of “embedded carbon” – emissions from things like steel and construction that simply can’t be avoided when starting from scratch. Offsetting these emissions is possible, but expensive and difficult.

Of course, old buildings don’t retain value without the work of active conservation, which is a huge part of what we do at Unica Capital.

Even the most beautiful buildings lose something if left empty. Indeed, the so-called “most expensive house in the UK” in Knightsbridge currently needs serious renovations after laying vacant for a decade. The right tenants, ones that will sustain your investment and keep the space’s feeling alive, will not settle on a building if it is derelict or dated inside. And they will want modern office conveniences: Showers, kitchens, super-fast WiFi, and bike-parking.

And retaining those environmental credentials will mean making your building energy efficient. This isn’t always simple; but it is far better for the planet than tearing the building down and starting again.

So, you can’t just buy a stake in history and expect to leave it in place to age well. Buildings are not wine. But if you’re willing to do some work to keep it classic on the outside but modern on the inside, it will retain value not just for decades, but for centuries.

Published: May 1 2024
Author: Byron Baciocchi

Property Investment Commercial Office Westminster

Unica Capital Expands Its Swiss Footprint: Acquires Prestigious and Rare Chalet in Gstaad

Unica Capital Expands Its Swiss Footprint: Acquires Prestigious and Rare Chalet in Gstaad
Unica Capital Expands
Its Swiss Footprint: 
Acquires Prestigious 
and Rare Chalet in Gstaad

Gstaad luxury chalet swiss property developer

Unica Capital, renowned for its robust real estate portfolio across London, Switzerland, and Monaco, proudly announces its latest acquisition in the desirable village of Gstaad.

Nestled amidst the beautiful landscapes of Gstaad, famous for its alpine charm and upscale lifestyle, the newly acquired chalet and surrounding grounds occupy over 6,000 square meters. With properties of this quality in short supply, this is another remarkable acquisition for Unica Capital. Set to undergo extensive refurbishments, the chalet will be restored to its prime.

This acquisition seamlessly aligns with Unica Capital’s existing properties in Switzerland, which include chalets in the upscale village of Crans-Montana and luxury villas on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Gstaad, situated in the Berner Oberland, boasts a vast ski area in the Alps with 220 km (137 mi) of slopes. The village’s charming promenade, lined with shops, restaurants, art galleries, and hotels, adds to its appeal. Known for its walking and hiking trails, Gstaad attracts visitors year-round, including famous part-time residents and vacationers like Valentino Garavani, Prince Albert II, Madonna, and Roman Polanski.

Unica Capital’s vision for the newly acquired chalet includes meticulous refurbishments, ensuring modern amenities and exceptional finishes that meet Gstaad’s prestigious ambience.

Stay tuned for updates as we embark on this exciting journey of enhancing luxury living in Gstaad.

Published: April 18 2024
Author: Ricardo Gato

Gstaad luxury chalet swiss property developer

Get in Touch

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Get in Touch