Sourcing property for investors
LONDON INVESTMENTS:EVEN IN a flat market, new transport links are guaranteed to generate interest, so the long-awaited extension of a train line to south Hackney in east central London is already attracting investment.
Prices across the city are down by an average of 10–15 per cent since 2007, and agents say sales have virtually ground to a halt – so it’s a buyer’s market, with particular value for euro zone buyers.
“People in London are extremely conscious of the availability of transport when they buy or rent.” says Simon McDonnell, director of Findlay Property, which specialises in sourcing investment properties for Irish clients. “So when the new East London Line opens here in July 2010, we anticipate an immediate increase in property values of around 10 per cent. We’ve already been buying property within walking distance of where the stops are going to be.”
South Hackney, says McDonnell, was one of the last areas of central London resisting gentrification, but that’s changed, particularly in neighbourhoods like Shoreditch and London Fields.
“It’s within walking distance of The City and there’s easy access to the West End, so the train will put in place the element that’s been missing,” says McDonnell.
Three of the four directors of Findlay Property are Irish: Simon McDonnell, John Walsh and John Paul Van Cauwelaert. The fourth is Scot Alan Findlay. They set up the business in a small East End flat in 2001 and now operate from the more salubrious environs of Broadway Market.
“We’re not an estate agency,” says McDonnell. “We’re a property management company which sources properties on behalf of its clients and then manages it for them afterwards.
“Almost 100 per cent of our clients are Irish. Roughly a third of our properties are ex-local authority, a third are luxury modern apartments and a third are Victorian townhouses. So, if someone says he has €250,000 to spend and is looking for a rental yield of 7 per cent, we’ll source the property for him.”
Typically, a three-bed ex-local authority property can be bought for around €235,000. Findlay charges a 2 per cent finder’s fee, which could come to €5,000; refurbishment costs another €5,000; stamp duty adds €2,500; legal fees another €1,000; and furniture and white goods €2,000. That’s €250,000 all in – the cheapest McDonnell would recommend.
As to the “Olympic factor”, the well-documented boost to property prices before the games come to town in 2012, McDonnell is not really convinced. “The Olympics are on our doorstep, but I’m cautious about claiming too much for them. For me, the chief benefit will be the long-term one of improved infrastructure.”