Mark Gawor, founder and senior partner at Wapping-based solicitor Gawor And Co, has sponsored The Wharf Property Awards since their launch in 2013. But last year was the first time he won one himself.
“I’m chuffed to bits that I won the Special Recognition award,” said Mark. “And I’d like to confirm there was no truth to the rumour that I wouldn’t sponsor the awards next year, if I had lost."
It’s fitting recognition for the man who has served the local area since first taking a summer job filing for the firm Trowers And Hamlins in 1975.
His six-week turn at the company sparked an interest in the law that led him to drop out of school and embark on a legal career, qualifying in 1984 and setting himself up in Shoreditch.
Mark moved to Canary Wharf in 1991 with friend Peter Rouse to set up Rouse And Co before the inception of Gawor And Co in Wapping , where the firm remains.
Today there is no filing, but Mark continues to serve the local community as diligently as ever.
Gawor And Co’s 2016 was a year marked by mixed fortunes. As a specialist solicitors in the property sector, it faced a huge run of business up to March 31, as clients raced to exchange before Chancellor George Osborne’s Stamp Duty hike to 3% for buy-to-let landlords came into effect.
This was followed by a slow April and May as the British public awaited the outcome of the Brexit vote.
“We were all told we’d remain, and many went into shock after we’d voted out,” said Mark. “In property, when there is uncertainty, people sit on their hands. And since last summer a lot of people have put their property purchases and moves on hold..”
Further seeds of doubt were sewn as America ushered in a new leader with big, unconventional ideas for trade and trans-Atlantic partnership. The property market here in the UK, it seems, is not immune to the impact of The Donald.
However such concerns were largely unjustified, said Mark.
“Whenever there is uncertainty the property market slows down,” he said. “But the stock market is at a record high.
“Yes the pound is down against dollar and the euro, but first-time buyers’ earnings are in pounds, your earnings and the properties being sold are in pounds.”
As for Theresa May’s recent comments about a broken housing market, or the cabinet’s claims that the solution lies in a commitment to wide-scale housing development and the freeing up of greenfield and brownfield sites, Mark said he was “not overly enthused”.
He makes the point that every single Government since the war has said the same but to increase development the Government needs to entice property developers turned off by increasingly stringent planning law and regulations.
“Even as recently as the 1990s you could convert, for example, Georgian houses into flats,” he said. “But in order to protect the individual and homeowner, everything and everybody has now to be certified, which is a good thing.”
He said the planning process was a huge wheel that took a long time to turn rather than a click of the fingers, with every fresh administration seemingly restarting the process.
“If the Government relaxes permission to build on brownfield and greenfield sites then so much the better, but developers will not build if they can’t make a profit,” said Mark.
“Quotas for affordable housing and shared ownership are all well and good, but things have to be viable for a developer.”
Entries and ticket sales are now open for The Wharf Property Awards 2017 in association with founding sponsor Gawor And Co for a fantastic fifth year.
Entries close on March 30 ahead of the glittering Rock Of Agents-themed presentation ceremony on May 25, at Building Six in The O2.
For all awards inquiries email email@example.com or call 020 7293 2247.
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