Diary of an estate agent: Fitzrovia

The potential of Tottenham Court Road is a big draw for overseas buyers heading to London...

Catching up on the latest property news at the start of the week, I see it’s another day of varying reports — one positive one for every three not-so-positive ones at the moment. But we are definitely seeing more overseas buyers, from Europe, Asia and the US.

I am out viewing today with a group of realtors from America who are looking on behalf of their investors. We take in three new developments in Fitzrovia, Soho and Bloomsbury.

They are impressed with the specification, especially apartments at Artisan, which has a great mix of new and old architecture. It’s amazing that even from the other side of the Atlantic they know all about Crossrail — the Elizabeth line — which will minimise travel time from Tottenham Court Road to Heathrow, thus bringing the US even closer.

Admin morning for me, and I need to catch up on some new instructions we’ve taken on. One is in a lovely red-brick block with a porter close to Tottenham Court Road, an area which is due to undergo huge change over the next year or so.

A £41 million revamp includes a two-way traffic-calming scheme, while recently the area has changed from electronic companies to upper-class retail, with the emphasis on home stores including Heal’s, plus cafés and restaurants. Any properties located close by are really benefiting from the new plans and we mention this within the property details. 

This afternoon I am out with a European buyer who is looking to secure a flat while the exchange rate and prices are offering him up to 25 per cent discount on the height of the market back in 2014.

He is convinced it’s time to make the most of the situation. We view several places, including a lovely one-bedroom flat at the rear of the old Bow Street magistrates’ court in Covent Garden.

The vendor has been renting it out via Hudsons for years and, because it is so central with access to Theatreland, it has rented very well. This seems to be the buyer’s favourite and he tells me he will call tomorrow, as he wants to take some measurements. 

First up is a valuation in Soho and as I am early it gives me the chance to grab a coffee at the Algerian Coffee Store in Old Compton Street. If you’ve never been, it serves unbeatable coffee for a fraction of the price of some of the larger chains. 

The apartment I am seeing is part of a warehouse-style development and offers great light and space. I definitely have some buyers lined up for this one and rush back to tell my colleagues, who will also be keen to advise their buyers. 

With an old client to meet, I head for King’s Cross. Developer Argent has transformed this once-forgotten part of town into a really cool, up-and-coming place to be.

As we arrive the road is still being marshalled by construction staff working on the next big new development. They are turning old coal arches into a new retail destination, with some trendy, well-known brands already signed up. 

I hear back from my European buyer. He was due to get back to me yesterday but buyers are definitely taking time to do their homework before committing to an offer. It’s good news.

Not only does he want to put forward an offer but he agrees with our room measurements. It’s a fair offer but I believe my seller will hold out for more. 

The Covent Garden seller responds and as I thought, the offer needs to be higher. My buyer asks for the weekend to think about it.

Meanwhile, I am out with my colleague, Matthew, and a French family who want to buy a home close to the École Jeannine Manuel in Bedford Square. Ever since this French school opened in 2015, it has provided a steady flow of enquiries to live in the neighbouring districts. 

We view a few places and a red-brick portered mansion flat seems to be of most interest, as the family likes the idea of lateral living just a five-minute walk from the school. 

I leave them with Matthew so he can show them around the neighbouring streets to give them a better idea of the area and make a more informed decision. I head back to the office to finish off my calls and look forward to the weekend.

  • Simon Bray is a director at Hudsons in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia (020 7323 2277).

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