It feels like a glamorous start to the week in Fitzrovia today, as a fashion shoot is taking place outside the office. Colville Place nearby is often used as a backdrop for photographers, and parts of Jude Law and Richard E Grant’s new film, Dom Hemingway, were filmed there — a nice reminder of what a desirable, beautiful part of town this is.
Speaking of beautiful places, I recently returned from a property conference in Argentina, where I met some amazing people, one of whom is coming in to see me later this week. He is the head of a Saudi family who are looking to buy several places in London in the near future. As for Buenos Aires, it is a city full of culture, history and great architecture as well as beef, beef and more beef with a fair amount of vino tinto to wash it down.
I am finding it difficult to get back into my routine this week after my trip, so no early morning gym session today.
Late morning I meet with a mother and father who want to talk to me about rising property prices. They are worried that unless they act now, their daughter might end up in the lost generation of homeowners. I tell them that I remember thinking in my early twenties, how will I ever afford a flat in central London for £200,000? And now we are looking at prices of £1.3 million-plus for the same type of properties. London is a different market to the rest of Britain — and it operates in its own economy. It is fuelled by overseas cash buyers, which sometimes makes it harder for UK buyers to get a look-in.
A Spanish lady from last month is keen to buy and we have recommended a mortgage arranger so she can get the finance approved ahead of her proposed move. One thing’s for sure, as an architect her home will be stylish and full of sensible storage space.
Also, our retired paddle boarding landlord is nearing exchange on the sale of his two-bedroom flat we agreed last month.
Simon Bray, our sales director, today registered a Vietnamese family looking to buy a flat for their son, who is planning to study at LSE. I hear Simon talking about travelling around Vietnam in 1999 and discussing the economic progress since then. The fact that this family can send their son to university in London shows how appealing the West End is, and how opportunities are opening up to more people from all corners of the globe.
Simon loves to travel and has visited so many places that when we’re out together he nearly always gets chatting to someone who has visited the same city or country and they end up comparing notes. I’m waiting for someone who has been to the North Pole.
I’m reading interesting stories about the continued increases in central London house prices. Nothing new there, but there is also talk of implementing capital gains tax on overseas investors, and about how this could affect expats. It will be interesting how this may play out, as there are points for and against: the former have been instrumental in buying up London’s property stock which has helped fuel the economic recovery while also pushing up prices and making it more difficult for UK buyers to get on the housing ladder.
For the first year we are enjoying the Christmas lights on Charlotte Street, Tottenham Court Road and Goodge Street provided by the Fitzrovia Partnership with Business Improvement District funds.This year has flown, but there is still plenty of business to be done before it ends. Making agreements on Christmas Eve is not unusual. Hold the Christmas turkey.
Jonathan Hudson is a director of Hudsons Property, based in Charlotte Street, W1 (020 7323 2277)