Is that another year gone already? It has certainly been an active one for the London housing market, with stamp duty rises on second homes and on buy-to-let property, but there have still been significant positives for home owners and we are already excited about what will unfold in the year ahead.
I am heading off to a meeting with my senior team to finalise our plans for this year. We have just installed new systems to make our customers' lives — and our own — easier. Each new year presents different challenges. With lettings, there always seems to be new legislation to implement and we have to make sure all of our landlords know, so that they are protected. It's vital that we have excellent systems that run smoothly, ensuring each property and landlord we represent is fully up to speed.
At The Ninth restaurant, next door to our office in Charlotte Street, I am having lunch with a new homes developer who I didn't get the chance to meet before the festive break. The restaurant has been designed stylishly inside, with exposed brickwork and antique gold touches. We discuss an up-and-coming development in Fitzrovia and chat generally about the past year. We expect 2016 to be much of the same, although with one eye on interest rates after the US increased its own last month. He is concerned investors are being squeezed and how that might affect matters, but there are still plenty of eager buyers around who want to live in these amazing properties in the centre of London.
My attention turns today to finding a new receptionist — it is such an important role for us, as we operate with a reception area. They are the face of Hudsons and the first experience of our company for our customers.
I am going through the CVs received over the past few months. It's quite easy to spot a good one these days, especially when there is a nice covering letter with it, but a number of different skills are necessary in a good candidate. Most importantly, we want to know that the successful applicant will share our love of Fitzrovia, this buzzing part of London. I make a few calls and set up some interviews.
Margaret, one of my colleagues, is in a great mood as she has confirmed a viewing she has been trying to organise for months with a buyer for a new penthouse flat. He works in television and his busy schedule means he often has to cancel a viewing. She is hopeful, as he has expressed a lot of interest.
Meanwhile, I am trying to agree a sale. We are £30,000 apart and both parties have reached an impasse.
It takes careful negotiation on both sides and a good understanding of each party's motivation to agree deals in this market. The vendor is selling as he wants to relocate with his young children to an area with a better choice of schools. The buyer wants a pied-à-terre as he has been travelling to London from Sussex every day. The extra time saved on commuting would be a huge boost to his lifestyle. I agree with both parties that they should take another 24 hours to think the deal over and we will chat again tomorrow.
I love Fridays — it is almost the weekend, but invariably there are deals to be agreed so we can have happy customers as they start their couple of days' break. The team is raring to go and the office has a real buzz.
It's time to make those calls following on from yesterday's deadlock. I ring the buyer first, who has decided to increase his offer as he can't bear the thought of another few months of commuting every weekday and he wants this year to be better than last.
We are still £10,000 short, though, so I will have to see how the seller reacts. Fortunately, he has also been thinking about the need to get his children and his wife settled in their chosen area, so he will accept the offer — we have a deal.
It's almost the end of the day and that means "wheel of fortune" time for the staff, when our top performers get a chance to spin the wheel and win a prize.
Good performances during the week never go unnoticed. It's a great way of rewarding not just fee earners but also essential admin staff who keep the wheels oiled in our company.
- Jonathan Hudson is director of Hudsons Property, based in Charlotte Street, W1 (020 7323 2277).