A sense of comfortable strength through association fills the room as solicitors from Kidd Rapinet talk property with Galliard Homes sales director David Galman.
We’re at the latter’s Isle Of Dogs office, a few steps from where its towering Harbour Central cores are rising higher by the day.
The two firms have decided to jointly sponsor the Corporate Social Responsibility category at The Wharf Property Awards 2017, firstly as both believe it important to recognise the work of companies to improve the environments and communities around them, but also as a demonstration of the importance of partnership. And while their current working relationship is relatively fresh, it’s not without it’s history.
David said: “I used to use Kidd Rapinet Solicitors and knew them in 1985 –probably the very first experience for a Docklands property development.
“I was working for an agency with offices at Skyline and there was an awful lot going on. The DLR was in its infancy and Canary Wharf didn’t exist – it was an extraordinary time.
“There were a number of investors that were existing Kidd Rapinet clients and were using them as everything down here was being bought and sold half a dozen times over – it was a crazy market.
“As Galliard, we have had quite a long association with the area too – we dipped our toe in back in the early 1990s with Papermill Wharf in Narrow Street, which we rescued from a receiver and had one of our sales launches where people were queuing round the corner to buy them.
"Then we pitched in and bought Burrells Wharf on the Isle Of Dogs from the Halifax, rescued those homes and sold them on.”
Much has changed since then, but David is convinced the area’s popularity will endure.
He said: “It seems to have gone through more peaks and troughs than many other locations. But it’s a really, really exciting place to be.
“We launched Orchard Wharf two weeks ago , it’s an E14 postcode at the top corner of the Isle Of Dogs between London City Island and Canary Wharf.
“We’re in excess of 100 sales – a bit of overseas and a bit of UK. We’ll try every market to gain our sales.
“What we’re finding is things are selling off plan. They tend to be selling to long term investors and speculators in the same way they always have done. I don’t think there’s been any change there.
"You are not going to get more than a very small percentage of owner occupiers coming in to buy something that’s two years away. They’re definitely not going to buy it if it’s four years away.
"As the building is coming to completion the price rises so if you’ve got the nerve to hold to six months before completion, if you can find a way to do that, that’s the time you’re going to find the real buyers."
He said cash from overseas continued to play a big part in development with a recovery seen in buyers from Asia recently and stressed such deals were essential to get schemes built. Kidd Rapinet said that was because London continued to be seen as a safe investment.
Managing partner Graeme Bellenger said: “We have an awful lot of international clients and they come here and need to find a safe place for their money.
“When you look at the history of Britain, whether it’s the legal system or the political system, it’s all relatively safe and property prices have gone one way as time has passed. It’s a safe, secure place.”
David added: "The flow of money from overseas doesn’t seem to be drying up.
"We’ve seen Asia increase again – the Far East had a bit of a struggle.
"The difficulty with China is actually physically getting their money out, which is why it works for them to buy off plan, early because then they have time to plan it – they can get a certain amount of money out every six months or so and then they can do it.
"Galliard has a scheme in Shoreditch with Chinese developer Vanke – The Stage – and you get buyers following the company as well as following the development.
"They’re responsible for a number of sales as there’s a desire to get money out."
Senior associate Randeep Thethy added: “When you look at all the scare-mongering after Brexit with people saying nobody would want to invest in Britain, there’s actually been a lot of overseas investment.
“Overseas investors still see Britain and London as a good investment. If that money didn’t come in then many projects would come to a standstill.”
David said to help such buyers feel comfortable it made sense to work in partnership with a firm that was there on the ground, offered a full range of services and had staff that spoke a range of languages.
Partner Yogesh Patel added: “It works well for us too. We’re able to offer that independent advice to our clients. It’s reassuring for them that we’re coming from that perspective and we give them a real rundown on the way the property is developing, the documents and the contracts.”
As for the awards, Randeep said: “I think it’s a good category to sponsor. I think everyone should take on that additional responsibility of providing for the community.
“We all have to put in to get out of a community and those efforts should be recognised.”
Joint category sponsor at The Wharf Property Awards 2017, Kidd Rapinet has been instrumental in putting together networking group In And Around Canary Wharf .
Intended as a place for those working in businesses in the local area to meet, socialise and forge a sense of community for mutual benefit.
The next meeting will take place at Bokan, which occupies the top three floors of the recently opened Novotel in Marsh Wall and delivers commanding views over Docklands and the Thames to the City and beyond, on Monday, May 15 from 12.45pm to 2pm.
Anyone wishing to attend should contact email@example.com or call 020 7925 0303 for further details.
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