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House Hunting in ... London

This five-bedroom brick home, a study in Chinoiserie called the Pagoda, has an adjoining annex and sits on a third of an acre in the village of Blackheath in Southeast London. The village has 212 acres of uncultivated common land, one of the largest such tracts in Greater London, and the Pagoda is about 200 yards away, said Robin Chatwin, a director at Savills, which has the listing. The designer was Sir William Chambers, the architect to King George III; the earliest part of the house, dating to the late 1760s, was used by Caroline, Princess of Wales, the estranged wife of George, Prince of Wales. According to historical tracts cited by Mr. Chatwin, the princess led a rather notorious social life there.
In its current expanded configuration, with more than 5,600 square feet of space, the house has official protection as a structure of architectural importance, Mr. Chatwin said. A pebble drive leads in from the gate; the lobby opens to a large reception hall with a staircase, double-height ceilings, and Arts and Crafts-style oak paneling. Beyond that, the dining room has a fireplace and opens to a glass conservatory; the drawing room, also with a fireplace, has bay windows and Oriental lacquered paneling made of Western red cedar. The kitchen has white-painted wooden cabinets, granite and butcher-block countertops, and an Aga stove. Two other reception rooms complete the ground floor, along with a half bath.
Two of the five bedrooms on the second floor have en-suite baths. The master has a wall of cloudy-blue Chinoiserie cupboards and closets. The third floor has a loft, as well as the so-called Pagoda Room, its large oval and round windows offering views in three directions across London. The pagoda roof has a thistle motif on its lead gables and a Chinoiserie-style curvature at the corner eaves.
The annex, its two stories adjoining those of the main house, has a small kitchen, a living room and two bedrooms. The property has an unattached garage and off-street parking for five cars.
Along with Greenwich, which is nearby, Blackheath has many boutique and designer shops; it is less than 15 minutes from Central London by train, 20 minutes by car depending on traffic. London City Airport is about 20 minutes away; Gatwick Airport is reached in 45 minutes to an hour.
London housing prices slumped as much as 25 percent after the financial crisis of 2008. But since then they have rebounded to their highest levels ever, changing the house-hunting patterns of buyers, particularly foreign ones, said Michael Hodgson, of the real estate brokerage Douglas & Gordon of London.
International buyers used to focus on Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster in Central London, he said, but “people have realized that prices are very strong, and they can probably get better value on the periphery — so even areas like Fulham, Battersea and Clapham are getting a lot of international buyers.”
In prime Central London, for instance, the average cost of a one-bedroom flat would be $836,829 (£548,333). In the peripheral boroughs the average would be $598,571, Mr. Hodgson said. A four-bedroom home would average $7.1 million in Central London, $2.2 million in the other boroughs.
Buyers come from all over the world; international buyers account for 34 percent of the sales in London, Mr. Chatwin said. French and Italian buyers predominate; buyers from China and other Asian countries, who also constitute a significant presence, tend to seek out new construction, he said.
There are no restrictions; until recently most foreigners chose to buy through offshore companies based in places like the British Virgin Islands or the Caymans, said Philip Ryder, a partner in the law firm Stone King in London. The practice, which exempted the homes from income and inheritance taxes, may be largely moot now, as the exemption has been eliminated, he said.
In general, buyers must pay a stamp duty ranging from 1 to 7 percent (on the Pagoda it would be 7 percent), along with about $3,000 in other fees. Both a lawyer and a surveyor are recommended. Their fees start at $2,300 and $3,800, respectively, and increase depending on the complexity of the sale and the size of the house, Mr. Ryder said.
Official London tourism site: visitlondon.com
London Transport: tfl.gov.uk
English; pound sterling (£1 = $1.53)
Council taxes are $4,164 a year for the main house, $2,082 for the annex.
Robin Chatwin, Savills, 011-44-20-8877-1222; Savills.com

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