Unlike some of my more puritanical colleagues I didn’t do dry January — quite frankly I couldn’t face it during the gloomiest part of the London winter — but it has still been a very successful business start to the year.
I spend this afternoon with a Swiss-based businessman who has expressed interest in one of the developments we are marketing in Victoria, with 55 Manhattan-style loft apartments. He’s a man of few words but he seems very clued-up and keeps me on my toes.
I pick up again with the same buyer and visit another three developments in various parts of the city. After two meetings and a few hours together his initial reserve is softening. I learn about his business interests and his son, who is beginning a course of study in a boarding school out of town — hence the father’s desire to get a flat in London.
Unfortunately, I can’t offer him anything that matches his exact requirements and he feels he has something better elsewhere, so for now, I move on to the next client. Later I meet some very friendly Scottish-based buyers who are spending so much time, and money in hotels, they have decided to buy a pied-à-terre. They are struggling with the prospect of spending the same amount of money on a two-bed room flat in London as they would on a beautiful lochside landscaped estate in the Highlands. After a lot of searching I have identified a few good options. Following much deliberation they make an offer on a flat in Westminster which is accepted by my client, to everybody’s delight.
A very prestigious development in Kensington is in my book for a visit today. It is in the latter stages of building so we are able to go into specific units by appointment. However, the prospective buyer, who is a very elegant and no-nonsense Middle Eastern matriarch, is less than amused when she learns she will have to wear previously used steel-toed boots and a hard hat, and climb several flights of stairs. There is nothing else for it, so we begin our upward journey but once inside the fifth-floor, west-facing apartment filled with afternoon sunlight, a rare smile appears on her face.
A surprise phone call comes in for me from a very glamorous Shanghai-based lady who looks after her family’s investment portfolio outside of China. She is in town for the day and wants to see a few properties we have been discussing, so I arrange a car to take us to view a number of options I know will appeal to her. She is particularly impressed by a very grand and quintessentially London building near Tower Bridge which is being converted into luxury homes. Once outside she thanks me for my time, tells me she will be in touch once she lands in Los Angeles, and is whisked away in a chauffeur-driven black Mercedes.
I am looking forward to a day in the office to do some much-needed admin. However, as soon as I sit down I get a call from the Swiss-based businessman who asks if we could meet for lunch to go over an investment proposition he has been given. He says he trusts my advice, which is very gratifying. Intrigued, I agree to meet him at Como Lario, an Italian restaurant in Holbein Place off Sloane Square.
Over lunch he explains that he is no longer proceeding with the apartment he mentioned to me on Tuesday, outlines the new proposition and asks for my opinion. I advise against it, outlining my reasons and he grins when I guess at who brought the property to him. We discuss another deal and I return to my office to put together an offer. It’s a good end to a good week — which certainly merits a drink.
Adam Simmonds is an associate in Strutt & Parker’s London residential development and investment team (020 7318 4688).