Posted 11 February 2016 by Keith Osborne
As the WhatHouse? team continues its weekly series of one-on-ones with some of the movers and shakers of the property world, it returns to London to look at the capital’s market with Emma Fildes, manager with estate agency Fyfe Mcdade.
Please tell us a little about yourself and the company.
I’m manager of Fyfe Mcdade’s SE1 office in Waterloo, which opened last year. However I have worked in a number of Fyfe Mcdade’s offices over the years! Fyfe Mcdade opened its first office in 2007 in Shoreditch EC2, soon expanding out to Bloomsbury WC1 and then up to Islington N1, offering a full range of services including residential sales and lettings, commercial sales and lettings, land and new homes consultancy.
What differentiates you from the competition?
Since 2007, Fyfe Mcdade has strived to veer away from the typical shiny-suited corporate agency that is ubiquitous in London. We have our clients’ interests at our core and have built up a reputation for selling some of the capital’s most unique homes and developments, from historic warehouse conversions to Georgian townhouses and towering new build developments.
Part of the key to this success is the way that many of our staff have backgrounds in areas other than solely property, including marketing, media, art, music and more. I come from an acting background. This, I feel, enables us to think laterally and offer a slightly different, but no less successful, approach. Clients regularly comment that dealing with us has been ‘refreshing’ and an ‘eye-opener’ when compared to previous experiences.
Do new build homes represent a significant proportion of your business?
Now so more than ever, which was one of the key drivers for our expansion into the SE1 area, as we sought to tap into the demand for the new wave of landmark schemes going up, all the way from Nine Elms to London Bridge and everywhere in between. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be working in the area as we are seeing a real transformation from transient ‘passer-by’ zone to sought after district.
What sort of developers are marketing their new homes through you?
We work with a diverse range of developers ranging from small to large, which I believe is one of the keys to our success. Currently we are selling everything from boutique schemes of 10 units or less in Hackney, through to units at globally renowned sites such as NEO Bankside.
Do you have any current ‘star attractions’ in your new build portfolio?
We are currently selling at One Tower Bridge, Berkeley’s scheme overlooking one of the capital’s most iconic landmarks. Residents here can enjoy a concierge by Harrods Estates, spa and gym and much more - it’s the premier address for affluent City workers.
Moving further east, we are selling the The Penshurst Arms, the transformation of an old Victorian pub in Hackney which combines conversion and new build elements to provide five apartments and two townhouses. It has a huge amount of character - ideal for creative types living in the area who are seeking something a bit out of the ordinary.
How has the London property market changed in 2015 and where do you see it going in 2016?
Prices have continued to grow but we’re now seeing emerging districts consistently overtake traditional prime areas like Kensington and Chelsea, which are actually seeing prices wane.
Buyers are increasingly seeking to make their money go further in areas like Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Lambeth and Southwark, attracted by relative value for money, improving transport connections and capital growth potential, which has already been squeezed out of prime central London. We think this will really shape the market in 2016.
Do you think there are any parts of London that still represent a ‘bargain’ for homebuyers?
‘Bargain’ is subjective but for first-time buyers, Hackney Wick and Fish Island, near Stratford in East London, are proving popular - you can still pick up a decent one bed for £350,000 or less, although don’t wait around too long - Shoreditch was once ‘affordable’ and look at it now.
SE1 and the surrounding postcodes also represent a relative bargain when compared to the neighbours on the north side of the river. A key example of this would be Waterloo and Vauxhall; cross the bridge five minutes to Westminster or Pimlico and you will see prices for similar properties almost double.
Have you seen a flourish of buy-to-let enquiries since the Chancellor announced the stamp duty levy from April 2016?
Buy-to-let represents a relatively small part of our business so we have not seen a huge spike in enquiries. However we have seen a few vendors considering selling the odd rented apartment, if they are looking to downsize their buy-to-let portfolio and know that their property will be of interest to future investors given the healthy, proven, monthly return.
Are there any exciting new builds coming to market soon that you can tell us about?
The Penshurst Arms development that we are just launching: the images speak for themselves!