Posted on

How the Queen Elizabeth Line and Crossrail Place will change Canary Wharf

Born out of the London Docklands Development Corporation to regenerate Tower Hamlets, at the time one of the poorest boroughs in the country due to the decline of the docks as new container ships too large to access the docks moved east to Tilbury, Canary Wharf was conceived as a financial district to complement the City of London.  The design of the vast gleaming modern tower blocks was far more suited to house the miles of underfloor wiring necessary to power modern banking and broking systems, than a Georgian or Victorian office in the Square Mile.

Initially, although shiny and new, Canary Wharf and the Docklands was not a popular destination. In a past life as a recruiter based in the City, I recall it being a challenge to persuade some bankers to move to the area. The Jubilee Line extension helped and over the last twenty years, I have seen the area improve beyond recognition, while remaining a hub for financial services and accountancy firms. However, more change is coming soon – the eagerly awaited, much anticipated Crossrail – Queen Elizabeth Line is now operational.

Crossrail will vastly improve transport links. Wharf-ers are now able to travel to Liverpool Street or Farringdon in less than ten minutes. Heathrow is accessible in 39 minutes.

Crossrail Place, built above the station, is a new eating, drinking and shopping hotspot and represents the efforts of the Canary Wharf group to transform the area as a go-to destination for all Londoners.

This effort by Canary Wharf Group, much like its new flex workspace offering, MadeFor, is future-proofing the estate. The landlords long-held ambitions to create a thriving neighbourhood are well in motion: more than 1,000 people already live on the estate, while its new 23 acre neighbourhood Park Drive, will add up to 3,600 homes and 350,000 sq ft of shops and restaurants, as well as 2m sq ft of office space, a new NHS GP surgery and primary school.

The Docklands as a whole is taking on new priorities.  A host of higher education institutions are increasingly looking for space in the area, with around 500,000 sq ft of requirements that we are aware of, as universities from across England, Wales and Scotland, look to expand their London operations.

While higher education is by no means the only sector increasingly showing interest in the previously financial services dominated area-with a 55/45 split between creative and financial businesses on the Canary Wharf estate, it is indicative of the fact that the identity of the Docklands is changing.

Now the Queen Elizabeth Line has opened, the area once largely frequented only by its residents and its workers, will open to visitors in a way that would have been unimaginable nearly two decades ago when I first opened Fisks London.

 

Posted on

Canary Wharf Group are adding another 2,000 flats to their Build To Rent portfolio. Should private landlords be concerned with the effect of additional rental supply on rental yields?

Several new skyscrapers previously allocated for private sale will now be developed as Build To Rent (BTR) under the company’s specialist platform Vertus.

Canary Wharf Group has already completed 1,137 Build To Rent flats across three schemes; 10 George Street, 8 Water Street and Newfoundland.

Alastair Mullens, managing director at CWG’s rental platform Vertus recently told the Estates Gazette: “While Wood Wharf had always been intended for residential, with 3,600 homes across the 23-acre parcel, the new plans are a shift away from the previous for-sale product. The neighbourhood already has two private-market buildings, Ten Park Drive and One Park Drive

Across the wider estate this means residential and BTR from the West to the East along the South Quay, with a further 1.6m sq ft also earmarked at North Quay next to Canary Wharf Crossrail Station.”

What effect will this additional supply of high quality rental property have on rental values?

The prospect of 2,000 high quality rental apartments managed by Vertus and targeted at professionals working in Canary Wharf might be a concern for private landlords seeking the same tenants.

However, the cost of renting the Vertus apartments is significantly higher than the cost of renting a comparable apartment situated in another centrally located development in or close to Canary Wharf. Vertus are advertising apartments to rent in George Street, Walter Street and Newfoundland, the average advertised rent across all three buildings is as follows:-

Studio apartments – £1,964 pcm

One bedroom apartments – £2,368 pcm

Two bedroom apartments – £3,343 pcm

Three bedroom apartments – £5,331 pcm

Fisks London have recently handled the following comparable property lets:-

Studio apartment – 10 Park Drive, £1,622 pcm

One bedroom apartment – 10 Park Drive, £1,950 pcm

Two bedroom apartment – Discovery Dock East, £2,400 pcm

Two bedroom apartment – Ability Place, £2,550 pcm

Two bedroom apartment – Baltimore Wharf, £2,600 pcm

Three bedroom apartment –Talisman Tower, £2,900pcm

All the properties above are located a short walk from Canary Wharf tube station, and have the benefit of 24 hour Concierge and leisure facilities.
In comparison to the Vertus asking rents these apartments offer much better value for money.

How can Vertus justify such high rents?

In my view there are two important and material differences between renting from Vertus and renting from a private landlord via an agent;-

The first is what Vertus call ‘flexible tenancies’, which means they will consider tenancies for a period of less than six months. This is not a new concept, tenants have always had to pay a premium for the flexibility of a short term tenancy. The majority of tenants we introduce to our landlord clients prefer a longer term tenancy, so in this case, I believe they would prefer to rent a better value apartment from a private landlord via an agent for significantly less rent than the Vertus offering.

The second difference is the on-site maintenance provided by Vertus. Tenants will be attracted by the perceived efficiency of an on-site maintenance team. The ability to report a leaking tap, malfunctioning heating or whatever the fault maybe to an on-site technician, employed by the same company that the tenants rents the apartment from and who developed the building, does provide confidence that any issues will be dealt with promptly.

How can a landlord in the private sector compete with the onsite maintenance provide by a build to rent landlord?

First impressions count. A well presented property will give the tenants confidence that the landlord will look after the property during the tenancy. Instructing the agent to inform tenants that any outstanding faults will be dealt with shortly or soon after they move in isn’t good enough. The tenants will just move on to the next apartment on their viewing list.

Retaining the agent on a fully managed basis will provide the tenant with the confidence that any maintenance issues will be dealt with efficiently by the managing agent during the tenancy. In fact many relocation agents representing large corporates only arrange to view property that is managed by an ARLA registered agent.

Having an ARLA registered agent manage the property gives the tenant the peace of mind that a professional third party, committed to delivering first class service standards will efficiently resolve any maintenance issues during the tenancy.

For more information on our managed services click here.

Posted on

Fisks London reaches 100+ Trust Pilot reviews

We would like to start off by sharing our gratitude with everyone who has taken the time to write a review on Trust Pilot. The team are extremely proud to have reached over one hundred reviews, in little over eighteen months, and achieve the rating of ‘Excellent’. The feedback of our clients has a huge influence on the way in which we provide our service and we greatly appreciate people sharing their experiences with us.

Building positive professional relationships with our landlords and tenants is the cornerstone of our business and we are always striving to achieve the best possible result for their property. We pride ourselves on offering an expert and reliable service and there is no better endorsement of that service than our existing clients.

Entrusting an agent with the rent or sale of your property is not a proposition entered into lightly and we understand that gaining an insight to our services through the experiences of our clients is a valuable first step in building trust. That is why we collect and make all of our reviews available with complete transparency, so that all potential clients can see an open and honest assessment of how we operate. As a small business, client feedback also forms a valuable tool for us to evaluate our performance and improve our service.

The consistent themes of professionalism and personable service in our reviews are testament to the hard work of our team and we will endeavour to uphold this standard for the next one hundred reviews!

If you would like to read our reviews, please click here

Posted on

New lease of life: how the Life Science Industry can rejuvenate the London rental market

The London rental market continues to be a challenging environment for landlords. Rental values have reduced by 10%-15%, since Coronavirus hit the headlines in March 2020.

At Fisks London we have not seen an exodus of tenants to the countryside as has been widely reported in the press, so why have rental values fallen?

Due to concerns over the virus there is general lack of enthusiasm among existing tenants to enter the market in order to ‘trade up’ and secure alternative rental property. Therefore there is very little churn in tenancies and consequently our renewal rates are nearing 100%.

Enquiry rates from new rental applicants entering the market have also significantly reduced due to the high numbers of Canary Wharf and City employed professionals working from home, and there are very few enquiries from overseas applicants.

This significant reduction in demand has coincided with an oversupply of property. The immense new-build pipeline in Canary Wharf and its environs, much of which has been purchased for buy-to-let purposes started to complete in early 2020 and new homes continue to enter the rental market. In addition the Airbnb and serviced apartments, markets have all but evaporated, and consequently, landlords who had operated in those markets are now also competing for private tenants under cover of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

Reasons for optimism

Despite the challenges, the Canary Wharf rental market has continued to function well, and Fisks London have agreed rental deals every month since April 2020. In fact our transaction levels are only slightly less than in 2019.

The reduced rental values have enticed applicants who have wanted to reside in Canary Wharf but previously had not been able to afford it, this underlines the appeal of Canary Wharf as a City within a City and as the area continues to evolve it is increasingly able to entice applicants away from the traditional London Villages and High Streets.

How the life science industry can help

Aside from the provision of Covid vaccines, the Life Sciences industry could have a direct influence in the increase of rental demand in London and Canary Wharf.

In 2020 life sciences-related firms headquartered in London raised over £2.89bn of capital, 7% more than the Capital raised in 2019.

The demand for space in London from Life Science businesses and the capital invested into them endorses the view that it may prove to be one of the more resilient sectors.

London has four life science-focused clusters emerging: White City, Elephant and Castle, Southbank and Whitechapel, each forming around a research-focused university, hospital or institute, due to the new discoveries being made in these institutions. With exception of the White City development, the other three clusters are all only a short commute to Canary Wharf. Staying in London and close by their institutions enables these firms to be in the best position to recruit the top talent, as well as allowing access to London’s vast financial sector for funding.

“What life sciences has got over other sectors is that it requires physical facilities. From a property point of view, it’s going to be quite resilient to the changes being brought about by Covid”
Sven Bunn of the Barts Sciences Programme Director, Whitechapel.

To paraphrase, people employed in life sciences cannot work from home, they need to live close to the laboratories.

Although the life sciences are unlikely to rival the capitals vast financial services sector any time soon, the influx of employees (typically younger people who will choose to rent) will certainly increase demand within the private rented sector.

Posted on

The government has announced that the UK will stop the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles by 2035, its time to consider the impact this will have on private rental landlords and homeowners.

The government has announced that the UK will stop the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, including hybrids by 2035, its time to consider the impact this will have on private rental landlords and homeowners.

Where are we now?

All the large motor manufacturers are now producing electric vehicles. The sales figures of EVs (Electric Vehicles) are still only 2% of new car sales in the UK. However, consumers concerns regarding the reliability and range of electric vehicles are being addressed through the improved technology in some of the latest offerings from the manufactures. For example, the Jaguar ‘I pace’ has a range of 292 miles, and a fully depleted battery takes 13 hours to charge. The Tesla Model S has a range of 390 miles and takes 12 hours to charge a fully depleted battery. For those able to securely charge a car at home, these vehicles are a practical proposition for the daily commute, not to mention the savings in fuel cost, and for some company car drivers a reduced tax bill.

There is a lack of charging points, to address this the government has pledged nearly £40 million to the development of EV charging technology.

Where are we going?

All the large motor manufacturers are now producing electric vehicles. Many people who until recently had not been unduly concerned about climate change are now worried about the threat of global warming and are thinking more about sustainability.

The UK, for example, is committed to being net-carbon zero by 2050.

This means a change in the type of vehicle we drive and a change in the infrastructure needed to power the vehicles. The number of charging points will have to increase to meet the growth of, and mandate for Electric Vehicle usage.

This year the government announced double funding for the installation of EV charging points on residential streets. A trial of wireless charging technology will see a partnership between universities, local government and business.

The trial tests superfast wireless street charging pads under taxi ranks, which enable taxis to charge while they wait for fares.

How will this affect landlords and vendors?

Local authorities, electricity companies and private landlords will all be involved in locating, funding, construction and operation of such charging spaces

The UK will develop regulations that require charging points to be built into new developments that fulfill certain criteria. Property owners should consider providing charging infrastructure where possible to enhance the sale-ability and value of the property asset.

 

Posted on

New Electrical Safety Regulations to come into force from the 1st of July

New Electrical Safety Regulations to come into force from the 1st of July

Landlords and agents will need to ensure electrical installation inspections and testing are carried out for all new tenancies in England from 1st of July 2020, or from the 1st of April 2021 for existing tenancies.

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations compels landlords to ensure every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified person. The Regulations also state that a landlord is required to obtain a report of the results of the inspection and test and supply it to each tenant within 28 days and retain a copy until the next inspection is due.

Upon request, the report must be provided to the local housing authority within 7 days. A copy of the report must be supplied to a new tenant before occupation, or any prospective tenant within 28 days of a request from the prospective tenant.

The regulations will be enforced by the local housing authorities and they have the power to arrange a remedial action. Proven breaches of the Regulations can result in the local housing authority to impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 on the landlord.

An additional burden on Landlords or a practical safety measure?

Fisks London welcomes this new legislation. The old legislation could be confusing for both landlords and tenants.  Landlords had a duty of care to the tenant to ensure electrical installations are safe but there was no requirement to have the installation inspected by a qualified person or to provide a certificate. This new legislation provides much needed clarity and will help to ensure safer standards within the private rented sector.

How do I arrange an Electrical installation inspection and certificate?

Fisks London have access to qualified competent contractors, and we have negotiated a competitive inspection charge of £180 inc vat.

We will ensure that the existing tenants and any prospective tenant is provided with a copy of the certificate. Should any remedial work be required, this will be overseen by Fisks London on behalf of our landlord clients.

Our managed clients need not worry about renewing the certificate, Fisks London will ensure that the mandatory inspection is carried out every five years.

For more information or to arrange an inspection contact Lubna@Fiskslondon.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

The London Property Market Post Lockdown

 

How has Covid -19 affected the London rental market?

The very top of the market saw activity as applicants sought out luxurious and spacious accommodation to reside in during lockdown.

The middle to upper middle level of the market where one bedroom apartments would normally let for £1,950pcm and two bedroom apartments would achieve £2,600 pcm, has seen some stagnation with landlords having to accept offers approximately 7% -10% below asking price. I do have some concerns about this price point, particularly in light of the scheduled imminent completions in Canary Wharf Group’s Park Drive and Galliard Homes’ Maine Tower. However, a well presented apartment with sensible asking price will be sure to find a tenant fast.

Unsurprisingly, the more accessibly priced apartments have been most resilient in terms of value.

As always, location is key. Throughout the lockdown period, we continued to receive daily enquiries for a one bedroom flat up to £1,500 pcm or a two bedroom flat up to £1,800 pcm in good locations. Price drops were minimal in this price range. As we slowly emerge from lockdown, I expect demand could quickly outstrip supply.

How has Covid -19 affected the London sales market?

From the 24th of March to the 13th of May the sales market was effectively suspended. Although it was possible to organise video viewings and some conveyancers were still working, there were not any surveyors available to value the property on behalf of the buyer and the lender. So although in theory a sale could be agreed, it was not possible to arrange mortgage funds.

Sales enquirers during April were very low indeed – averaging 0.7 per day one a day.

Many surveyors have now returned to work, so hopefully we will start to see some activity in the sales market.

It is too early to tell how quickly the sales market will return to the positive signs we saw in February and early March, however, the fundamental market drivers are still encouraging, i.e low interest rates and a lack of housing supply.

What can we expect in the near term?

Parallels have been drawn between the economic impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic effects and the financial crash of 2007/2008. There are, however, some key differences between the two periods in relation to the property markets. In the 2007/2008 global financial crash, insufficiently capitalized banks were part of the problem. Following the better regulation of the financial system financial institutions have had to undergo stress testing and financial modelling in order to be able to better cope with an economic downturn. Therefore, the banks have healthy balance sheets and will be able to provide the funding needed to drive the economy and the housing market.

As we emerge from the lock down and renters and purchasers work to realise their aspirations, we expect the finances to be available to them.

Therefore, I am confident that transaction levels in both the rental and sales markets will recover quickly.

 

 

 

Posted on

Covid-19: Fisks London are open

How has Fisks London coped with the Covid-19 pandemic?

In late February, before any official government guidance on Covid-19 in relation to Estate Agents had been published, Fisks London were ahead of the curve. All of our staff were issued with face masks and latex gloves for use on property viewings, during which we followed strict social distancing measures. On return from the viewings, any keys and fobs that we had used were disinfected before being returned to our secure key cupboard.

On the 24th of March all Estate Agencies were ordered to close. Fisks London were able to continue to service our clients’ needs remotely.  We continued to oversee our Management Portfolio and successfully let several apartments through video viewings.

On the evening of the 12th of May the news broke that Estate Agents could open for business the next day, and promptly, our sales office opened at 9:00am the following morning.

Most of the procedures and measures that Fisks London implemented in February now form the official recommendations for Estate Agents, published in May. We have adopted a responsible socially distanced approach to the viewings, we wear masks and gloves whenever necessary, and continue to provide video viewings. At the office, our desks are arranged to enable applicants and property consultants to remain at least two meters from each other. Combined, these measures underscore Fisks London’s responsible attitude to the health of our clients, applicants and sales and lettings consultants.

As part of the new governmental health and safety advice, I’m afraid for the time being we are not able to drive applicants to viewings and open homes are not permitted, but other than that its very much business as usual.

 

 

 

Posted on

Will the ‘Boris Bounce’ lead to an increase in Canary Wharf property values?

An elected majority government in December 2019 brought an end to four years of stalemate in the house of commons and uncertainty in the financial and property markets.

Since the vote to leave the European Union on the 23rd June 2016, property values across London have fallen by approximately 3%.

At Fisks London we felt the uncertainty caused by the referendum result was the final straw, adding further pressure on a market that was already showing signs of overheating and suffering from an oversupply of new build property and a weakening global economy.

Sales instructions reduced as the majority of vendors adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach. Inevitably this lead to fewer properties available for buyers, so despite the uncertainty and negative sentiment, our vendors have been pleasantly surprised by the final agreed selling prices we achieved.

As we all know location is key, and demand for river facing apartments on Westferry Rd or property located in South Quay or other popular locations such as Narrow Street and Fairmont Avenue, Blackwall, remained strong during this challenging time.

Is this the return of positive sentiment?

Although it is too early to have any meaningful data on house price sales to analyse since the election result, there is unquestionable return of positivity amongst buyers. The sales team at Fisks London believe that the fourth quarter 2019 is likely to have represented the bottom of the market and many of our investor clients agree.

There have been reports that multi million pound prime Central London properties that had been stagnating in the market since the referendum result, have had sales agreed, subject to contract, in early January 2020. This is encouraging, as Prime Central London property sales are generally the first to slow when the market is in distress but the the first to increase when the market improves.

Due to the decline in capital values over the last three years, London now represents a good value for money, comparative to other international cities.

I am yet to read or hear market commentator who does not believe that London prices will increase in 2020.

Will this “Boris Bounce” continue for another five years? At Fisks London our view is: certainly, yes! The threat of recession has receded, the base rate remains low with the potential to reduce again, and there are plenty of first time buyers who now feel confident enough to make a property purchase and take advantage of the governments stamp duty incentives.  There is still a shortage of good quality property in the market and at Fisks London we believe that the pent up demand could overtake supply.

Should we pop the champagne corks?

Perhaps just the one bottle for now! We still need to agree a trading deal with the EU and other partners. The Nationwide Building Society has reported that UK house prices increased by 1.4% year-on-year in December. Industry predictions for 2020 remain modest at between 1% and 2%.  However, my view is that the value of second hand property in Canary Wharf and its environs could increase more aggressively.  There is strong demand for one bedroom apartments in South Quay, Westferry, Narrow St and Blackwall priced between £350k – £450k and two bedroom apartments in the same locations between £550k – £650k.

Potential vendors will benefit from our experience of how to implement a marketing strategy needed to achieve maximum value.

Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss the current market value of your property.

 

Posted on

Fisks London’s new look for 2020

We are delighted to announce the launch of our brand-new website.

In line with our ongoing commitment to offer our clients the very best standard of service, the team have been working hard to ensure the new site provides all the latest information and property options for London and the Docklands. We appreciate, that in this day and age, a modern property agent needs to move with the times and provide a slick and intuitive online experience that enables landlords and tenants to browse properties and learn about our service, at their own pace and convenience.

“We felt that the time was right to make the change. As we head into a new decade, we want Fisks London to remain at the forefront of the London property market and be offering clients the same high level of service that they’ve come to expect from us. Having an effective and contemporary online presence is a key part of realising that objective.”

On the new site, landlords, tenants and vendors and buyers will be able to browse all of our available properties and access a range of useful resources. Details of our lettings and management services are quick and easy to review and you can download our latest furniture brochures, prepared in collaboration with NEW ID and ideal for London property investors. The site will also feature all of the latest property news and views from Fisks London HQ, as we keep our finger on the pulse of the developments in the industry and offer our readers valuable insight and advice. And of course, our team are always on-hand to answer any enquiries.

So please explore the site and acquaint yourself with the new features. We welcome your feedback and will strive to continually improve our online service.

From all of the team at Fisks London.