Thursday, 20 July 2017

From Doer-Upper to Starter-Upper: The London Property Week diaries.

I don't like risk.  And, believe me, I can see risk in almost anything.

The centuries old bridge I'm crossing will surely choose that moment to collapse. The truck hurtling down the road will have a brake failure and swerve into my path. The bloke coming towards me in a hoody is a knife wielding mugger who fancies my iPhone.

It's a hard life when you're this paranoid. That's why I don't go out much.

Seriously though, I can't afford the financial downside or take the day to day stress of too much risk, which is why I've kept out of the doer-upper market for the last year or so.

So what do I decide to do instead - try and start up London's biggest property show, that's all.

No risk there, obviously.


The idea for London Property Week was born out of disbelief.

Disbelief at how little there is to help young buyers find a new build property, buy it and even furnish it.

Oh there's lots of talk about the Bank of Mum & Dad or Help to Buy or even normal mortgages, and we all know there are are thousands of new flats going up all over the metropolis.

But when I started asking around I found that both young buyers and their parents were at a loss to know where to start.

The portals like Rightmove and Zoopla are wonderful things. If you know what you're looking for and roughly where. But people don't.

Estate agent offices are all well and good. But each one only has one or two new developments on their books.

The Evening Standard and Metro have lots of ads and interesting articles. But they are hardly comprehensive, certainly not on a weekly basis.

Of course you could take a tour of Show Apartments (if you know where you want to buy) but they can be a bit like car showrooms - full of sharp suited sales people out to entrap you into signing on the dotted line at almost any cost (may not be true, but it's how people feel).

In the end, it's all a bit of a nightmare.

So we did a survey and asked young professionals in London who want to buy whether they'd attend an event where they could find out about dozens of different developments and thousands of apartments. Over 40% said 'yes, please'. They also overwhelmingly wanted to meet mortgage people in a neutral location and attend seminars on how and what to buy.

Unbelievably, there is no major consumer event celebrating, promoting or informing people about the huge number of developments going up all over the city.

The trade (or perhaps I should say profession) has endless events. From MIPIM downwards, there's an opportunity for agents, developers, builders, banks etc etc to get together and do deals most weeks. There are awards shows, lots of 'summits', lots and lots and lots of talking (and a certain amount of drinking, of course).

The blurb for these events usually includes words and phrases such as strategic key stakeholder investment-led future regeneration summit.

Nothing wrong with that. I'm sure it's enormous fun.

But where's the 'end-user' (or buyer, to you and me) in all this? Where do they find out about all thats available to them?

There's a show for buy-to-let investors, there's a show for luxury property buyers keen on places like Dubai, there's even a small show for young people desperate enough to take on the complexities of a Shared Ownership mortgage.

And that's it.

Which is a shame because as I delved deeper into the London new build sector I realised just how much it has to offer.

London is being transformed. Across the city, new communities, new homes and new lifestyles are fast replacing the old. Regenerated and re-energised, London's once neglected areas are being reborn for a new generation. And, contrary to what you hear, it's not all about multi-million pound penthouses for money launderers.

Property Week will be an event that celebrates this and helps the young, the downsizer, the incomer and the city itself understand the scale, the ambition and the sheer variety of what's available out there.


Next time....we talk to developers and a few 'movers and shakers'.