All posts by davisbrown

Matters of the Heart

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us – whether we love it or loathe it, think it’s romantic or cheesy, at this time of the year we are bombarded with heart shaped chocolates, red roses, and a general overload of “love”. However, the origins of Valentine’s Day were not quite so rosy.   In 207AD Roman Emperor Claudius II had made marriage illegal, he thought that men falling in love and consequently getting hitched stopped them from joining his army.  St Valentine was a Roman bishop from Terni not too far from Rome, he believed in marriage and love so strongly he continued to marry people illegally.  Because of his breaking the law he was beheaded on February 14th 207 AD, and has been celebrated each year since in the name of that all-encompassing emotion of love!

You might be of the opinion that Estate Agents are not the romantic sort, but believe me the gushings here at Davis Brown estate agents have really turned that notion on its head! We have been discussing our favourite romantic thing to do, including taking a walk on Hampstead Heath followed by pint at a cosy pub, wandering around the Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly and admiring the wonderful paintings, staying at home and cooking a slap up meal for a loved one (or being cooked for). The winner of the most romantic of gestures however goes to one of our Commercial agents, he proposed to his girlfriend at the London Aquarium by getting someone to dive into the tank surrounded by sharks and stingrays, holding up a sign saying “Will you marry me?”!  She said yes.  Nothing says romance quite like that folks!

 

heartpic

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (Chinese – that is.)

Chinese NY

So it seems it’s time to monkey around! Not simply because the weekend is just about upon us, but because Monday 8th February marks the Chinese New Year, and this year it’s the Year of the Monkey!  The date varies from year to year according to the lunisolar Chinese calendar, and each New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals meaning that each animal makes an appearance every 12 years.  The celebrations in London are said to be the largest outside Asia and there is plenty going on.  China Town in Soho will be heaving this weekend and all of next week, with parades and celebrations abound.  Opposite our office in Margaret Street we have the pleasure of the London Guang Shan Temple also known as the International Buddhist Progress Society; it’s housed in the stunning building at 84 Margaret Street and they have their decorations up in preparation!

 

A tip for a favourite restaurant of mine in Greek Street, Soho is Y Ming, it’s small, friendly and serves authentic northern Chinese food, rather than the Cantonese food one usually finds in London. However, if you fancy some Peking Duck you will need to give them 4 hours’ notice as this is apparently the time authentic Peking Duck takes to prepare!

If you happen to be born in the year of the monkey you might well have some of the following characteristics: sociable, enthusiastic, cunning, self-assured, witty. Lucky signs for the Monkey include the colours blue, gold and white, the numbers 1, 7 & 8, the chrysanthemum flower and alliums.  You also share your sign with Tom Hanks, Leonardo da Vinci, Halle Berry, Miley Cyrus, and Daniel Craig!

I have been having a little look at the signs under which employees of Davis Brown estate agents were born under, and unbelievably they all seem to create the personality of the perfect Estate/Commercial Agent – who’d have guessed?!

Part II – From Rags to Riches – Our Rag Trade Tenants

As you will remember from last week’s blog, I mentioned that Davis Brown Estate Agents are based in Fitzrovia – the heart of what used to be the Rag Trade. It’s most definitely not a thing of the past though and this trade is still very much alive and kicking.   We at Davis Brown Estate agents W1 are proud to manage several buildings in the area, all of which uphold the Rag Trade’s tradition.  In Great Portland Street we have three tenants who occupy a clothes showroom and shops.  In Wells Street we have a wholesalers and another retail unit, and just a few doors down from us in Margaret Street we have a made-to-measure seamstress.    Just opposite us on Margaret Street there is the famous Hand and Lock, the world’s finest hand embroidery since 1767.  They are embroiderers to the Royal Family no less, and Cheryl Cole has worn garments created by their talented hands!

So if you’re look for a commercial property to rent –whether that be in the rag trade or any other trade, come and speak to us at Davis Brown commercial agents who will be able to help you with your search

Rags to Riches Pat ii

The Rag (s to riches) Trade

Just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street – one of the busiest streets in the world, is the home of what once was the hub of the rag trade – Fitzrovia. Davis Brown estate agents are also based in Fitzrovia so we’re pretty au fait with its fascinating history.

Once upon a time the rattle of metal clothes rails wheeling along the concrete pavements would ring out through the area where clothes would be transported from show room to lorry, to up and down the country, where they would be supplied to high street stores. They were also taken to docks where hundreds and thousands of garments were shipped abroad to Spain, Japan and even the Caribbean.

As every Londonite knows Fitzrovia is an area quickly growing in popularity, coffee shops and galleries are moving in at a rapid rate, but remnants of its historical roots are still very much here to see. Charlotte Street hotel gives a nod to the rag trade by displaying tailors’ dummies in each room, and if you wander around the likes of Eastcastle Street, Great Titchfield Street and Margaret Street you will see that they are still peppered with a number of small independent tailors.  The atmosphere must have rubbed off on some of our employees as I must say that there are a few snappy dressers here at Davis Brown Estate Agents W1 !

‘Look up London’ – Davis Brown 2015 Crane Survey

As Chartered Surveyors in London it has been essential for Davis Brown to keep track of development throughout 2015, in order to monitor the strength of the property market and help predict the level of activity over the upcoming year.

IMG_0291

Over the last year London has seen an astonishing level of development with major schemes throughout the capital, whether it be in Earls Court, Battersea, Docklands or core Central London. The larger developments schemes such as Edgware Green or Embassy Gardens in Nine Elms have often triggered major regeneration in the local area with plots of land and vacant derelict buildings being rapidly turned into new development sites as a result. Our professional commercial agents in London are aware that any land with the potential for development is highly sought after, even if on a brown field site and has limited access or lacks planning. One of the major reasons for a large amount of development in recent years is the significant lack of residential accommodation, which fails to satisfy the housing demand and as a result properties are achieving high sales / letting prices. As a result a number of the major development projects have been conversion from commercial to residential such as Centre Point below.

 

Centre Point, WC1

centre point

Despite this there was reportedly a slowdown in units entering planning permission in the second half of 2015. Surveyors in London believe that was largely due to the build up to the election and lack of economic and political certainty; however since then the Government’s changes to stamp duty have seriously impacted on the top end of London’s residential sales market. On top of this, due to the concern over increased mortgage regulation and rising taxes estate agents in Fitzrovia and the rest of Central London are expecting a slightly subdued sales market during 2016.

 

Battersea Power Station

 Battersea Power Station

The potential for a subdued residential market in 2016 could see a slight fall in the number of new residential development projects, but may in return see developers focusing more on commercial space such as the mixed-use development at Rathbone Square, Fitzrovia (see below) including 216,000 sqft of office space and 39,000 sq ft of retail space.

 

Rathbone Square, W1

Rathbone Square

Despite these concerns made by some agents in the market, Davis Brown has little change. Recent development sites that have been put on the market, such as Old Ford Row in Bow, have received a huge number of offers which significantly exceeded the original asking price.

 

Surveyors at Davis Brown and in the rest of London still sense that developers are eager to build, and when development land becomes available in London, high prices can still be achieved, whether planning permission has been granted or not. Commercial agents in London are expecting certain areas to boom with further development, especially in Battersea and Vauxhall, due to the current development at Embassy Gardens and Battersea Power Station that are significantly regenerating the area, and Southbank which has evolved to become a major part of prime central London. As demand for housing within commuting distance of Central London will continue to remain high, any land with development potential is expected to continue to achieve high sales prices, even if there is a slightly reduced sales market in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Burns Night in Fitzrovia!

I know it’s only been 4 weeks since Christmas but if you’re already missing the festivities and finding January a drag, then fear not, dust off your party shoes as it’s time for another celebration!  It’s Burns Night on Monday 25th January, and for those of you not aware of what that is, let me fill you in..  Burns Night is held in celebration of Scotland’s most famous poet – Robert Burns. This celebration has been tradition each year since his death in 1796.  Remembering Rabbie Burns (as he’s often affectionately referred to), involves eating haggis, drinking whiskey and reciting his poetry.  If you’re still none the wiser about his existence as a poet he wrote that famous song Auld Lang Syne which everyone knows, Scottish or otherwise, and is often sung on NYE or as the Scot’s like to call it “Hogmanay”.

Here at Davis Brown Estate Agents in Fitzrovia we like to keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in our local area, and being the cosmopolitan city that London is you won’t find it difficult to find a spot where you can don your kilt and show off your Highland Fling!  Fitzrovia hangout Bourne and Hollingsworth are putting on a 5 course Scottish banquet on the day starting at 6.30pm, and the Jones Family Project in East London are offering a Scottish-themed menu and whiskey cocktails served in a traditional Quaich, starting on 23rd.  Otherwise you could try your hand at some home-made Scottish cooking, now I know you can’t pretty up a haggis not even with a tartan ribbon, but apparently it tastes good! Or why not try a cock-a-leekie soup, neeps and tatties (with your haggis of course) and a delicious Cranachan for pud!  Burns Night

Islington: A Guide To The Area

It’s all about Islington at the moment! This dynamic and diverse area has so much to offer its residents.  Davis Brown estate agents are delighted to have not one, but two beautiful town houses available to rent in the area, and we thought we would celebrate by telling you a little more about Islington.

Where is it?

Islington is situated in the north of London, and covers the area from Clerkenwell all the way up to Archway.  It is a hugely diverse and exciting area, encompassing areas like Highbury, Essex Road, Finsbury Park, Kings Cross and Holloway Road.

Did you know?

  1. The King’s Head Theatre and Pub in Islington is the first pub theatre founded in England. It has been in existence since the days of Shakespeare.
  2. In 1613, Islington was the first borough in London to receive fresh water which was transported to a reservoir in Clerkenwell from Hertford, via. a forty mile newly constructed canal, known as The New River.
  3. Islington is home to two famous prisons – Pentonville Prison for men and Holloway Prison for women.  Holloway prison is perhaps most well-known for incarcerating many suffragettes, including Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison.
  4. Holloway Road derives from the ‘Hollow Way’ which was recorded in 1307 and was a medieval route leading from North Islington to Highgate Hill.
  5. Whilst Islington is one of the oldest parts of London, the London Borough of Islington was not established until 1965, when the former Metropolitan Boroughs of Islington and Finsbury joined under London’s large scale re-organisation.

Getting about:

Residents of Islington benefit from having a large range of transportation on offer.  Highbury and Islington station services most over-ground lines out to the northern suburbs of London, whilst also taking commuters into Moorgate and the heart of the financial district.  As estate agents in W1, we often travel to Islington on the Victoria Line and from Oxford Circus the journey is only seven minutes in duration.  Angel underground station is another route for City workers – it is situated on the Bank brand of the Northern Line and takes only five minutes to travel to Bank station.  Holloway Road underground services the Piccadilly Line, providing easy access for residents to South London.

Islington also has nearly 20 bus routes to offer to take residents all across the city, from Waterloo to Victoria.

Things to do:

There is something for everyone in Islington. This diverse area is rich in the arts, being home to some of Banksy’s most famous pieces, as well as Sadler’s Wells theatre. If this is your kind of thing, then the Pangolin London gallery is a must – contemporary art features in all forms and best of all – it’s free!  If art isn’t your thing, there are museums such as the Marx Memorial Library – home to Lenin during his years of exile, the museum hold a vast archive from books to pamphlets along with the famous fresco entitled ‘The worker of the future upsetting the economic chaos of the present’.  For the football fans, of course Islington is home to the world famous Arsenal Football Club and for those of you that are keen, not only can you visit the stadium in Highbury, but also the museum.  Finally, Islington is home to some of the capital’s best markets – selling everything from fresh flowers to car boot gems.  Our favourite is Whitecross Street market, which dates back to the 17th Century.  As estate agents in W1, when on viewings in Islington we take advantage of the market and always try and sneak over to Gwilym Davies coffee – this world champion barista winner makes a good flat white!

Hungry?

For the adventurous eaters out there, Moro in Exmouth Market is an absolute go to.  Serving Spanish and North African fusion food, the menu is short and sweet but packed with regional specialities and exciting flavours.  The Fish Shop is another of our favourites.  This restaurant always has its special fish and chips on the menu, but also serves fresh fish delivered daily.  You never know what’s going to be on offer, but that’s part of the fun!

Meet up hotspot:

The Swimmer at the Grafton Arms is the place to meet up.  A juke box, quizzes, music, food and good beer are the perfect mix for a great evening.

Upper Street is another great place for a wander and a catch up with friends.  From boutiques to cafés and unique restaurants, this stylish street is the hub of the area’s residents – the Oxford Street of Islington if you like!

 

If you would like to find out more about property in Islington, please contact Davis Brown estate agents.

Dry January Treats!

If you’re attempting Dry January then you are half way through – and I applaud you! But how does one treat oneself if one can’t do it with a comforting glass of wine after a hard day at the office?  Well, I might just have the answer – a decadent afternoon tea could be just the ticket, (so long as you’re not cutting out sugar and caffeine aswell..).  Local to us at Davis Brown estate agents in Fitzrovia we have a couple of fantastic places where you can indulge your sweet tooth to the max, and where no-one cares how you pronounce “scone”!  The Sanderson Hotel – a 1950s building that was transformed by Philippe Starck into a surreal Cocteau-like dream world, offers an afternoon tea experience that the elite of London are raving about.  It invites you to tumble down the rabbit hole where menus are hidden inside vintage books; teapots are adorned with kings and queens – a Mad Hatters Tea Party no less, what a delight for the senses!

Mad Hatters

The world famous British department store Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly offers a more classical afternoon tea; more than 100 different blends of tea are available, served in silver-rimmed delicate blue china cups. Sup at your leisure while the pianist tinkles away on his ivories –for that touch of sophistication.  If your companion isn’t abstaining this month they can always have a glass of bubbly with their tea!  Alternatively, you’d be very welcome to pop in and see us and Davis Brown estate agents in Margaret Street, Fitzrovia, where you will always be made the perfect cup of tea served up with a smile, and a dollop of insight into the current property market!

A Round Up Of 2015 – Davis Brown Residential Departments Best Bits!

Following on from our round up of the commercial department’s year, we couldn’t possibly have told you Davis Brown’s ‘Best Bits’ without mentioning our residential team in Fitzrovia.   Emma and Sarah-Jane have let more properties in 2015 than any calendar year previously, including some stunning interior designed properties, new build town houses and compact suites.

2015 started with a busy January, following an increase in new instructions in the West End, including Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Soho and Marylebone.   One of favourite properties was unique loft apartment with a large mezzanine floor which overlooked and had direct access onto a charming roof terrace. The property was snapped  up fast and became our first let of 2015.  Our tenants have just renewed for another year until January 2017.Flat view

February saw the sale of two flats in Fitzrovia both of which had short leases and our Chartered Surveyors in London have since been instructed to negotiate the extension of the leases.   February also brought our residential design team instructions to refurbish and interior design a portfolio of flats in Bloomsbury , Covent Garden and Fitzrovia.  One of the flats was based in in the period mansion block, Queen Alexandra Mansions in Bloomsbury and had a complete makeover on a budget, with a new kitchen, bathroom and décor throughout and let almost immediately after coming onto the market at the full market rent.  Keep an eye out on our website for our other properties which will be coming to the market soon.

With the run up to the general election, the Spring market was surprisingly busy for our estate agents in W1 and we widened the areas we covered with new instructions in Bayswater, Clapham and Islington.  Our residential lettings negotiator, Sarah-Jane managed to let a two bedroom apartment on Hatherley Grove in Bayswater, a garden flat on Clapham Common Northside and a studio flat in Charing Cross in one day – making it….. .  We had a number of one and two bedroom refurbishment opportunities in Notting Hill with long leases which were attractive to buyers and  all sold in excess of the asking price.

We were fortunate enough to market an exciting development opportunity in Bourlet Close in Fitzrovia in July and August. With planning permission for a full residential scheme, the property attracted developers and owner occupiers alike.  Best bids were invited for the freehold interest and we achieved in excess of £10 million making it one of the biggest on-market property sales of 2015.

September and October are traditionally busy months in the rental market, with an influx of students arriving in London for the new scholastic year.  The estate agents in W1 were pleased to offer a portfolio of 10 new rental properties in areas such as Fitzrovia and Covent Garden.  One of our favourites was a stunning two bedroom split level apartment on Goodge Street, with features such as wooden floor throughout. We also had two beautifully finished one bedroom apartments on Conway Street and Fitzroy Street, decked out with stylish and sleek furniture, these two let in just a few viewings each – dressing your property to let really does make a difference!!IMG_0956

Our last let of 2015 was on Carlisle Street.  This beautiful second floor flat, with modern interior and features such as surround sound throughout, is the perfect pad in the heart of Soho.  The new tenants moved in on the 20th December and were delighted to be in their new place for Christmas.  For those of you that like the look of this flat, we have the top floor flat above coming available in January!CarlisleStreet2,3-rec-12

Davis Brown estate agents have had a fantastic year, letting properties all over London, from Fitzrovia to Marylebone, Covent Garden to Islington and Clapham to Soho.  We have got lots of exciting properties coming up in 2016, so keep in touch with either Emma or Sarah-Jane to stay up to date on all of our latest properties.

EPIPHANY!

Well that’s it! No more Christmas jumpers, mulled wine or mince pies – the festive frivolities are done and dusted for another year. Every last piece of decoration came down on Tuesday  – or did they?  And why should they? Well, those are the questions!   5th January is the Twelfth Night (of the twelve days of Christmas), and according to the Church of England the twelfth night refers to the night before Epiphany, which was the day the Three Wise Men visited the baby Jesus (you’ve always wanted to know where that word really came from didn’t you?!).  It’s also been a tradition since Victorian England to celebrate this time of year by taking down the evergreens and lighting a bonfire (or putting away in it’s box if you have a fake one!). If you happen to have forgotten and your decorations are still up then you must keep them up until the Twelfth Night next year – or a goblin may come and spill milk on your carpet – was one superstitious story I heard….

We here at Davis Brown Estate agents in Fitzrovia, Soho, have followed with tradition and our beautiful office decorations came down on the 5th, however if you would like to visit our very own wise men and women (who incidentally are here all year round and not just at Christmas), we would be very happy to help you out with your new year property search.