Blairs make pounds 240,000 profit in swift sell off

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The Independent Online
Sitting in 11 Downing Street, Tony Blair is at least pounds 240,000 richer after the speedy sale of his Islington home, it emerged yesterday.

The Prime Minister's five-bedroom Victorian home in Richmond Crescent, north London, was snapped up within 24 hours of going on the market - for more than the asking price of pounds 615,000 .

The "sold" sign was erected outside the property over the weekend, but details of the new owner and the exact price are being kept secret.

Stephen Buston, the head of sales at Berkeley International, the Kensington estate agents entrusted with the sale, said the purchaser - "someone who wanted to be near the City" - was "lying low".

Mr Buston was clearly delighted with the outcome of the sale. He refused to discuss the final figure, but enthused: "It certainly wasn't under the asking price." It had, he added, been a pleasure doing business with the Blairs. "It went so smoothly," he purred. "It was absolutely great."

The property was put on the market on 10 June and and the sale completed on 16 July. There have been rumours that Mr Blair delayed exchanging contracts until after the Budget to avoid accusations he was trying to avoid the hike in stamp duty.

Mr Buston was not surprised that the property, put on the market for pounds 240,000 more than the pounds 375,000 it cost when the Blairs bought it in 1993, sold so quickly.

N1 has become something of a golden postcode and, although Mr Buston insisted it "just happens to be the Prime Minister's house", other estate agents have estimated that the blue plaque potential could have bumped up the value by a further pounds 100,000.

The Blair family were understood to be sorry to leave their home, but decided that for security reasons it was not possible to stay.

The inside of the house, which was built in 1854, is known to the nation after Mr Blair's promotional video for the election campaign, part of which was filmed in the modern kitchen, as well as countless photographs in the press.