A brief review of the UK property market from August/September 2015

As fully qualified chartered surveyors, the team at Davis Brown, London takes an avid interest in both the residential and commercial property markets. With September marking the end of the third quarter of the financial year, it is a good time to reflect on the situation. The below is a brief summary of the recent Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reports on the subject.

Commercial Properties

The trend for demand over-running supply continues across the country, with demand for leasable space growing for the eleventh consecutive month. The continued lack of space relative to demand is set to increase rental prices in the next quarter. As commercial property agents in W1, we note that the gap between supply and demand and ergo the rental increase, is more pronounced in the London area. This is mirrored by 50% of the London surveyors questioned who believe that commercial space is overpriced (a 5% increase on the respondents with the same answer in the prior period).

The retail sector as a national average has grown; however, it remains notably lagging behind the office and industrial sectors. This discrepancy is most notable in the North of the UK.

Investment levels have been growing steadily, as have the number of overseas buyers. When paired with the continued lack of property for sale, the capital values for commercial properties have risen notably in the period. An interesting note on the topic of foreign investment/policy is that 44% of the respondents stated the belief that if Britain opts to leave the European Union in the upcoming referendum, it would have a significantly negative effect on the commercial property market.

Residential Properties

In a similar story to the commercial market the residential market show continued growth in terms of interested new buyers but a lack of new instruction is damaging the rate of sales growth. This is further compounded by the continued (but less pronounced) decline in the number of vendor listings (which have failed to increase significantly since 2013). Again, with demand outstripping supply, house prices are set to rise and as consequence house price inflation will also rise. The RICS suggests that there will be a significant growth in sales across the UK in the next twelve months, but with particular effect in Scotland and Wales.

Again mirroring the commercial property sector, respondents from London gave a 50% view that the prices were fair, in comparison to 68% of respondents from other parts of the country.

In the lettings market the RICS predicts that rental prices (UK average) will increase by 4.5% over the next 5 years. This reflects the increased tenant demand, which is paired with a mild increase in Landlord instructions.

As a macro point the Loan To Value (LTV) values remain relatively settled across the buyer categories (First time, Buy to Let and Existing).

For more information about the property markets in London, why not contact Davis Brown, we are quality driven residential and commercial property agents in London.

NEWSFLASH – MARGARET STREET – FREEHOLD CONVERSION/REFURBISHMENT OPPORTUNITY

Davis Brown – your favourite Estate Agents in W1, has a fantastic property new to the market so we wanted to give you the heads up right here, right now!

A stunning Victorian mid terraced building in Fitzrovia, its adjoining neighbourhoods of Soho, Bloomsbury, Mayfair and Marylebone, makes this prime central location incredibly sought after. This freehold conversion/refurbishment opportunity has the added bonus of recently being granted planning consent.

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Fitzrovia is at the forefront of several new and exciting developments, and as local Estate Agents we are welcoming the growth that the area is enjoying. Some of these developments include brand new luxury flats on Margaret Street, Fitzroy Place – a 95,000 square metre office, residential and commercial complex which has been developed from the former Middlesex Hospital building site. Several fabulous hotels –the beautiful boutique London Edition Hotel is super place to visit for a delicious meal or cocktail, and the Sanderson Hotel is perfect for afternoon tea, as well as the newly refurbished Berners Street Hotel. Rathbone Square is another new development nearby made up of 38,300 metres of office, residential and retail space.

This property is served well by great transport links from Oxford Street, including buses and Oxford Circus tube station just steps away. All sounds pretty perfect to me! I would advise early viewing on this amazing property in the centre of one of the best capital cities in the world! Please contact Emma How or David Green on 020 7637 1066 to arrange a viewing.

Marvellous Margaret Street! – Snippets of history from the world’s greatest city!

Margaret Street has been home to Davis Brown – Chartered Surveyors & Estate Agents in W1, since 1979. We came to Margaret Street from 62 Berners Street as Davis & Co. where we first occupied No.9 and moved to No.1 in 2003. The firm changed its name to Davis Brown in 1995 while still part of William H Brown with which we merged in 1987. We became independent in 1998.

Margaret Street is away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Circus and runs parallel to Oxford Street, and leads from Fitzrovia to Marylebone.  It was created in 1734 and was named after Lady Margaret Cavendish who was the wife of the 2nd Duke of Portland.  It’s packed full of commercial and residential properties, but the most eye catching of buildings on the street is arguably All Saints church.  This Anglican Church is grade I listed, it was designed by architect William Butterfield and built between 1850 and 1859.  A pioneering building of the High Victorian Gothic style that would influence and characterise British architecture from around 1850 to 1870.  It’s predominantly made from red brick (which was a departure from the usual stone) and it’s spire is banded with stone.  It soars 227 feet above London making it the second largest spire in London.  And let’s not forget the interior – “dazzling” would be a most fitting adjective to describe it!  Richly pattered with inlays of marble and tile and of course beautiful stained glass windows, all of it a feast for the eyes!

Last year the English Heritage made All Saints Church one of the ten most important buildings in the country, so of course we are honoured to be a close neighbour of this stunning building. And by the way, the site upon which it was bought was £14,500.

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Covent Garden – Snippets of history from the world’s greatest capital city!

Having been an area of trade, noise, conflict and pleasure Covent Garden has always been one of the very vibrant territories of London, and therefore, of course, a hit with us at Davis Brown estate agents!  In the 1630s, the Earl of Bedford redeveloped some land that had formerly been a Convent Garden for Westminster Abbey (needless to say this is where the name is derived), Inigo Jones the Architect was employed and England’s first public piazza was created.

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The Earl of Bedford realised the potential of holding a market sited between the City and Westminster, so he obtained the right to do so and gradually market traders became an established feature of the square.  Although the area actually dates back to the 6th century when in Saxon times it was also used as a place of trade and barter – and it still is today!

In the 18th century Covent Garden became a more Bohemian area for artists, journalists, painters and the like – including John Zoffany and Richard Wilson, who took up residence in the Piazza and Tavistock Row.  Bow Street was home to the famous Will’s Coffee House – frequented by the likes of Samuel Pepys, John Dryden, Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift who were among some of the most prominent writers and poets of the 17th and 18th centuries.  Take a stroll up Wellington Street to the corner of Tavistock Street and look out for number 26 (which is now the Charles Dickens Coffee House), this was where Charles Dickens had his office for his weekly magazine, “All The Year Round” and he lived and worked here for long periods of time.

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So many fantastic historical building in the area such as the Royal Opera House and Lyceum Theatre to name but two;  so whether you’re a tourist or a local whose keen to know more about this area you will be enthralled at what you’re likely to discover in this wildly exciting area of London!

Snippets of history – Take Note in Notting Hill!

It’s strange to think that two hundred years ago Notting Hill was farmland, except for a small settlement of Kensington Gravel Pits – now Notting Hill Gate.  Development began in the early 1820s and during the later twentieth century Notting Hill became home to many immigrants from the West Indies who brought us what is now known as the Notting Hill Carnival (next weekend folks!).

Some important names have been linked to the area, including Javaharlal Nehru – the first Prime Minister of India.  He lived at 60 Elgin Crescent briefly from July 1910 to January 1911.

One of the most famous and influential people in the history of Women’s Rights moved to the area in 1916; Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Dame Christabel Pankhurst lived together at 50 Clarendon Road, W11 – this was after they had set up the Women’s Social and Political Union, a militant group whose members were known as Suffragettes.  Incidentally the average estimated value of a property in Clarendon Road today is £2.56 million!

At 31 St James Gardens there is a plaque dedicated to the Chinese Writer Lao She.  He came to England in 1924 to teach Chinese at the London University’s School of Oriental Studies and his experiences in London resulted in the novel The Two Mr Mas.  He was considered one of the outstanding Chinese writers of the twentieth century – a Chinese Charles Dickens if you will!

Yet another part of London so rich in history, and being an area that we at Davis Brown estate agents cover, we know this only too well.  Take the time to wander the streets and remember to look up – you miss so much if it’s eyes to the ground!

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A Little Bit Of Info About The Fitzroy Tavern

The Fitzroy Tavern – arguably the most famous pub in Fitzrovia (and a few minutes’ walk from Davis Brown – arguably the most famous Estate Agents in Fitzrovia..), started life as the Fitzroy Coffee House in 1883. It was later converted to a pub named The Hundred Marks, so-called due to the many German immigrants living in the area.  The pub re-opened as the Fitzroy Tavern in March 1919 and gives the area of Fitzrovia its name.

Back in the day in the 30s and 40s it was a Bohemian hangout with writers, artists, composers, sculptors & poets all frequenting the pub.  Apparently, the deal was if one of them sold an article/painting/sculpture or any other talent was peddled they would then all be in the money – until it lasted, and then become broke again until another one got lucky.  George Orwell, Dylan Thomas and George Bernard Shaw – all locals of the area were bound to have raised a few glasses in here.

Fitzrovia no longer has that Bohemian air about it and has been given over to media types, but still has some of the best old school pubs in London.  So if you’re in the area and fancy a good old fashioned English pint in a pub full of character and rich history then it would be well worth your while to pay The Fitzroy Tavern a visit.  And being favoured by us here at Davis Brown Commercial Agents you may well bump in to one of us there too!

 

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Mayfair: A Guide To The Area

Where is it?

Mayfair is roughly a square, cornered by Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park Corner.  It is edged by four of London’s most famous streets – Park Lane, Piccadilly, Regents Street and Oxford Street and is probably one of London’s most well-known areas, even if you’ve never been, you are sure to know it from the Monopoly board!

Did you know?

I. Mayfair is named after a fair that was held in the area every May

II.Piccadilly was named after a kind of stiff collar made by a tailor who lived in the area in the 17th Century.

III. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was born in a house in Bruton Street and lived in Mayfair during her infancy

IV. Le Gavroche in Upper Brook Street was named after a street urchin in Les Miserables and opened in 1967. In 1982 it was the first restaurant in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars and famous chefs that have worked there include Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing

V. The Duke of Edinburgh held his stag do at The Dorchester!

During World War Two, heavy bombing in Central London forced many businesses to re-locate their offices to Mayfair.  These businesses have remained in the area ever since, however recently the Grosvenor Estate has sought to regain the areas original character and gradually properties are being converted back into their original residential state.   Furthermore, rigid regulations on retail space has created some of the most unique and luxury shopping streets in the City.  Mayfair has Bond Street, Piccadilly, Burlington Arcade and Mount Street – where some of the most famous brands and independent stores world over call home.

Getting about:

Mayfair has five tube stations within it, providing access to each corner of the square.  Bond Street offers Jubilee and Central Lines, whilst Oxford Circus also has the Central, along with the Victoria Bakerloo Lines.  Green Park offers connections to Heathrow and also runs directly into the international rail terminal at Kings Cross.  Finally from Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch, one can access the Piccadilly Line as well as the Central.  By road, the A4 (Picadilly) is a major connecting road, which becomes the M40 to connect with the M25.   As with all of London, there is a selection of buses available from Mayfair and users can hop on and hop off easily.  As estate agents in Fitzrovia, we tend to walk to Mayfair.  The area has some wonderful side streets (and shops!) and on a nice day there’s nothing better than to take an amble through the streets of Mayfair.

Things to do:

If you are looking for exclusivity, Mayfair is the place to head.   Located within the area are some of London’s most prestigious and finest private members clubs such as the famous Birley’s and Annabel’s.  If you are not a member, but are still looking to go upmarket and treat yourself without the membership, then The Ritz for afternoon tea is a must.  As one of London’s most famous hotels, it’s the pinnacle of silver service in the city and is synonymous with the area.

For those of you looking for something a little more culturally stimulating, the Royal Academy on Piccadilly has a fantastic calendar of exhibitions alongside their outstanding permanent collection and there is always something new to see.

As estate agents in W1, we like to walk to our viewings in Mayfair.  The area offers not one but three parks – Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’sPark are all local and have activities and events year round including tennis, riding, biking and even boating!

One for the boys is Saville Row.  Built in the early 1700s with the Burlington Estate, Saville Row is famous world over for offering the best in traditional British men’s tailoring.  Whether you are looking for an outfit for a special occasion, or simply fancy a look at the different stores, Saville Row is an essential visit for the discerning gentleman!

Hungry?

It is virtually impossible to eat in Mayfair and not splash out.  With an exhaustive selection of high end restaurants, you’re spoilt for choice! Robert de Niro’s Japanese restaurant Nobu is situated on the first floor of the Metropolitan Hotel and serves divine food alongside an extensive wine list.

For the fish lovers, Scotts in Mount Street is definitely worth the visit.  With stunning interiors and a large and varied menu, there is something for everyone.  Oysters and champagne are the speciality here and you’ll be hard pushed to find better in London.

Lastly Gordon Ramsay at Claridges is perfect for those who are looking for the best service around.  Cameras in the restaurant ensure that this Michelin star restaurant has the quality service to match their food.  Make sure you book in advance however as this French food restaurant gets booked up well in advance!

Meet up hotspot:

The Connaught Hotel is the perfect place to meet.  Two bars in the same building mean you can take your pick on arrival between The Connaught Bar and The Coburg.  Plush seating in this stylish and glamorous hotel gives it an intimate feel, and a true highlight is their famous Martini, served to you on a trolley and mixed in front of you!

Property: what does the area have to offer?

As you would expect from one of London’s most upmarket and stylish areas, Mayfair is peppered with beautiful mansions, pretty mews and stunning apartments.  As the switch back to a residential area continues, there is more and more property coming to market.  If you are looking for a sweet mews house, check out Hays Mews or Adams Row.  However if grandeur and space are more your thing, take a look at the large apartments on offer in Park Lane, or the stunning period houses in Park Street.

 

If you would like to find out more about property in Mayfair and W1, please contact Davis Brown estate agents.

 

A week of work experience at Davis Brown by Jamie

Jamie spent a week at Davis Brown estate agents and chartered surveyors in W1 to learn all about the different areas of our industry.  Read his diary to find out what a week in the life of Davis Brown was like.

Monday

I arrived at Davis Brown estate agents and chartered surveyor’s offices in Fitzrovia bright and early on Monday morning.  I was introduced to all of the staff, including the office dog Bertie and then spent the morning with David Green and Tony How – registered valuers at Davis Brown.  We went to a Brownfield site to take some photos and I listened to them discuss development ideas which was fascinating.  We then took a look at dropped curbs and developments that would facilitate the local residents and community.  As Chartered Surveyors in W1, Davis Brown has many interesting projects and clients across the city.

Tuesday

I spent Tuesday with the property management department at Davis Brown, W1.  I accompanied Graham King, the Residential and Commercial Property Management manager, on inspections of water meters which was a great way to see all of the different properties Davis Brown estate agents manage in Fitzrovia and W1.  This was so interesting to me as I had the opportunity to see different ages and styles of buildings and draw comparisons between modern day property and older property – for example one property on Great Portland Street still had an old fashioned fuse box!

Wednesday

Wednesday morning I spent with Anthony Thompson, a chartered surveyor at the Fitzrovia based Davis Brown.  He took me to a derelict but beautiful house in W1 which was built in 1775 by Robert Adam.  Major refurbishment works were being done and Anthony was there to discuss how to best water proof a large section of the site.  This was insightful as the trip encompassed both looking at the works done, and the health and safety rules and regulations that have to be abided by.

In the early afternoon on Wednesday, Tony Guergis gave me a talk on Party Wall Matters.  He is one of the building surveyors at Davis Brown chartered surveyors in W1 and I learnt a lot from him.  David Moon, the building surveyor at Davis Brown Chartered Surveyors in W1, then took me to a wonderful Georgian property on Fitzroy Square.  He was there to take a look at a party wall matter with another surveyor as there are works being done on the next door building.  Party Wall’s is not something I knew about before I was introduced to the subject by David Moon and it was a really good learning experience.

Thursday

On Thursday, I spent the day with the Residential team at Davis Brown estate agents in Fitzrovia and was lucky enough to accompany Sarah-Jane, the residential negotiator, to some viewings at a selection of flats they have to rent in W1. It was a busy day but also a wonderful opportunity to learn about residential sales and lettings.  The most interesting part of the day was discussing the differing price of property, and the factors on which they depend such as size, location etc.

Friday

To end a brilliant week at Davis Brown estate agents and chartered surveyors in Fitzrovia, Emma How the residential manager asked me to draw up a floorplan of the whole of the office.  This is no easy task, as Davis Brown’s office in Fitzrovia is a town house, split over 6 floors!

After several hours and a large amount of determination, I came up with a 5 page floorplan and felt that this was a wonderfully constructive way to wrap up the week.

For more information about properties in W1 and Fitzrovia, contact Davis Brown. 

Marylebone – SNIPPETS OF HISTORY FROM THE WORLD’S GREATEST CAPITAL CITY!

Another of the areas covered by Davis Brown Commercial Agents and Estate Agents W1 is Marylebone. Yes it’s a bit of a mouthful and it’s been pronounced in many different ways (we personally use 3 syllables). The name “Marylebone” is actually an abbreviation of its 14th century name of “St Mary by the Bourne”, relating to St Mary’s Parish Church which was built on the banks of a small stream – or “bourne”.

In 1965 Marylebone amalgamated with Paddington & Westminster to create a new, large City of Westminster. The area is home to numerous spacious late Georgian town houses which have always been attractive qualities for many people including us at Davis Brown Marylbone estate agents. Famous names such as Lord Byron lived in Holles Street, Charles Dickens was a resident of Devonshire Terrace until his tenancy expired in the Autumn of 1851 which is when he took up residence in Tavistock House.

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The most famous resident of Marylebone however– albeit fictional – must surely be Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes! The street he lived in with his side kick Dr Watson was of course Baker Street which must be one of London’s most famous streets, even being immortalised in song!

Like most areas in London Marylebone has a colourful past, Nightingale Street (now Gateforth Street), was one of the most notorious in the area; it appeared on one of the Booth Poverty maps from 1889 where the streets were colour coded to indicate their status; Nightingale Street was “awarded” the colour black, denoting the lowest grade and that “semi-criminals” lived here. I wouldn’t have imagined that Davis Brown estate agents would have had many dealings in this street!

Marylebone also has many diverse institutions such as Lord’s cricket ground, Madame Tussaud’s, the London Planetarium and has also been home to an abundance of animals from all over the world since 1828, as this is where you will find world renowned London Zoo!

Elephant London Zoo

 

How convenient!

Our next coffee shop certainly didn’t start life as a coffee shop.  Oh no –far from it!  The Attendant in Foley Street, W1 is a tiny, coffee bar close to Davis Brown Estate Agents in W1 and situated within an old Victorian loo no less!  Now it may not be everyone’s cup of tea (pun very much intended) but it certainlyadds to the character of the area with a great story to tell – attracting tourists and locals alike.  It was originally built around 1890 and has kept some of its important features.  Two years of planning and restoration has turned this space into a cosy underground area where you can enjoy your macchiato and cookie dough brownie while your surroundings take you back in time, with the original Victorian floor tiles and urinals lovingly restored.

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The trend for turning old public conveniences into bars or cafes are becoming quite popular around London – one in Clapham Common aswell as Shepherd’s Bush and Kentish Town to name but three.  It’s a resourceful idea and being commercial agents in Fitzrovia we are keen to keep our eye out for all manner of unusual and quirky establishments – they all add to the charm of our oh so fabulous city!