One-on-One Interview: Robert Fraser of Fraser & Co

Posted 4 September 2013

This week we talk to Robert Fraser, founder and managing director of Fraser & Co, which specialises in selling desirable new homes in London.

Name and business title: Robert Fraser, founder and managing director of Fraser & Co.

What regions do you cover? We have offices in Paddington, Baker Street and Chiswick, which deal with sales, lettings and management, primarily of new-build properties across London. In London we cover from Hounslow in the west to Stratford in the east, and from St John's Wood in the north down to Elephant and Castle in the south.

As a London-focused estate agent and leader in new-build residential property exhibitions in Asia, we also an office in Hong Kong, which is headed up by Neil Jensen, and gives us strong insight into far eastern investment into the London property market.

What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? Despite the economic climate over the past few years, London has remained a desirable city in which to buy property. As well as being a hub for international business, its position outside the Eurozone, its first-class educational institutions and universities and great cultural scene with some of the world's best restaurants, entertainment and shopping make our capital a favoured location for both domestic and international investors.

Asian buyers in particular have always found London attractive, but the weak pound, coupled with measures to cool property markets in some Asian cities, have led to even stronger demand.

As well as buying for investment, London properties are popular as pied-à-terres for international business people who want a home-from-home instead of staying at a hotel. It is also becoming increasingly common for people to buy properties for their children to live in whilst they are studying in London and keep the property after they have finished their studies.

A recent example is Cleveland Residences, a renovated 19th-century mansion block in Fitzrovia, which achieved prices of £1,400-£1,600 per square foot. The development, by The Cooper Group sold within about three weeks of coming to the market, reflecting the demand for high-quality pied-à-terres near London's leading educational institutions.

What types of property is your firm selling? We specialise in selling new developments, modern homes and newly refurbished properties: these are the most in demand in the capital as they are highly sought-after by large corporations for their staff and are attractive to investors as they require little upkeep and can easily be managed at a distance.

How much does a new home sold by Fraser & Co typically cost to buy? Our current portfolio ranges from £180,000 for a two-bedroom apartment in Feltham to £4.3m for a two-bedroom apartment in Marylebone.

Why should more buyers consider buying a new-build home as opposed to older property? New properties require less maintenance and upkeep and usually come with security, which means buyers don't need to worry about their property while they are away. The increasingly common concierge services make these properties similar to staying at a hotel and the level of service and information makes them ideal for short stays.

Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? In the current market of rising prices there are definite advantages of buying off-plan, as you often end up paying less compared to buying after completion. There is also the benefit of having more choice in specifying your apartment to your needs early on in the development process.

What is Fraser & Co's USP? We have been selling London property to international investors for over 15 years and, in particular, recognise that Asian buyers are among the most active and influential overseas investors around the world. Having sold over 2,500 properties to Asian buyers over the past 3 years and have hosted 4 successful exhibitions in Hong Kong and Singapore in the last 12 months, with plans for 2 more exhibitions in Asia this year.

Which of the developments Fraser & Co is currently selling do you think stands the best chance of winning a What House? Award? Colebrooke by St Paul's Colebrooke, a development of six two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments with roof terraces in Islington. It is in a fantastic location just off the Camden Passage and architecturally it reflects the site's industrial past.



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