London Evening Standard – Jonathan Hudson’s ‘Diary of an Estate Agent’, 28th January 2015
Diary of an estate agent: Covent Garden is the star of our show
This West End estate agent-turned-producer puts Covent Garden in the spotlight this week.
Lots of fresh enquiries are coming in lately from buyers and tenants looking to move into Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, Soho and Marylebone, the five areas we cover. All five are very close to each other, but at the same time very different.
I walk to work in Fitzrovia every day from my home in Marylebone — an area that’s a little more family-orientated and certainly has a feeling of space compared to Fitzrovia, which is cutting edge and trendy, with an increasing number of new residential developments such as Fitzroy Place and Rathbone Square.
I meet up with an old buyer of mine in Soho. We grab a coffee in Fernandez & Wells after looking at a property, and we talk about the market as he is thinking of upsizing. I love going back and seeing what our buyers have done to the properties we helped them to purchase. I walk back to my office via the back streets to miss the crowds in Oxford Street and notice a few new shops have opened in less than a week. Really, this place moves so fast.
Today I have a few meetings at a new development we are involved with. I cut through Store Street, which has become a new “destination” since The Bedford Estates has been busy making improvements. Even the old petrol station there is now a branch of Byron burgers.
I love Bloomsbury, a big area for students, families and academics. The beautiful Georgian site we are involved with is located just off Russell Square, so it will sell quickly. Close by is the Brunswick Centre and Lambs Conduit Street, which is a mustsee street with a growing reputation as a fashion destination.
From Bloomsbury you can walk to the City but you also have the West End on your doorstep, with some of the world’s best shows and restaurants.
Covent Garden calls today. I’m finalising my area video with the help of my video team — there are so many places here to talk about in under two minutes.
The Royal Opera House and the Piazza roll off the tongue with ease, but there is so much more to this area. Flats are snapped up quickly and are often used as pieds-à-terre for out-of-town parents looking to experience the shows and the foodie indulgences.
Balthazar is just off the Piazza, but I like Clos Maggiore in King Street — a truly great French restaurant — and Café Koha opposite J Sheekey. The list goes on…
We finish the video, getting in as many landmarks as we can, to give our new customers a better idea of what is going on in the area. I can’t wait for the result so we can share it with everyone.
With a morning full of meetings arranged, there’s no chance for me to stop off at the Algerian Coffee Store in Old Compton Street, where you can get a seriously good espresso for less than all the flashy places.
When I arrive back at the office, one of my colleagues mentions he valued a property today and the owner sends me his regards along with a message that when he bought the flat some 13 years ago, I had more hair. We have been renting the property for him ever since, and what a great investment it has been. I recall he bought the place after a really great year for his business — just another example of how good property is as an investment. My colleague mentions the flat’s value has risen 350 per cent over the 13 years.
My morning is spent catching up with contacts in Asia who supply us with buyers for some of the properties we are selling off-plan. I have to start early as they are eight hours ahead of us.
UK buyers get the option to buy, too, but there isn’t as much interest from them for new properties with a two-year build and large deposit tied up. I think this will change in time as the world gets smaller, buyers get wiser and the shortage of London property becomes more evident.
The day finishes happily, with a great telephone call with instructions to proceed on the sale of our client’s property in Soho.
Read the full article here.