In Their Own Words
Sun 01 Dec 2013
William Hughes-Ward, Associate Director atMarsh & Parsons, South Kensington.
It's Sunday 5th January 2013 and I'm standing outside 29 Harrington Road, SW7, the site of our brand new South Kensington office and my new command is due to open the following Monday. My first thought is that there's no way on earth it'll be ready in time and panic starts to set in. The hoarding is still up, wires are hanging everywhere, builders are jostling for position and the place is, in general, a building site. "Don't worry William", Bartek, our facilities manager says, "remember Pimlico?". How could I forget Pimlico? A similar opening in 2007 and the first Marsh & Parsons office I was tasked with opening. Things went incredible well then - we opened up exactly to schedule and the office went from strength to strength, despite the rather difficult trading conditions of 2008. Since thenI have had the opportunity to set-up and run the Chelsea office.
That's one of the amazing qualities about working at Marsh & Parsons. If you can show yourself to be up for the challenge and can achieve great results for clients, then progression and opportunity is rife. We are a forward thinking company with a powerful brand that focuses on delivering the best price at the same time as delivering the highest level of customer service. This ethos has helped grow our market share in existing offices and alongside our continuing program of new offices, expansion is creating new opportunities for our people all the time. Sunday 13th, the day before we are due to open the doors for business andI am standing on Harrington Road again. This time things are looking totally different and I am filled with confidence. Bartek is smiling and I know he's thinking, "I told you so!" Apart from a few final touches, including finishing off our giant media wall, we're just about ready to open the doors.
As before, we opened right on schedule and to a much more positive market. Things had been a little subdued since last year's stamp duty hikes for propertiesnorth of 2m, but everything below this level was attracting a lot of interest. My diary was packed with valuations and the expectation was that spring would bring plenty of new business. And it did. Credit controls became a little more relaxed and obtaining finance was that little bit easier. We saw a huge increase in the number of buyers taking advantage of record low interest rates, many of which locked in for five-year terms. Cash buyers were still in abundance, mainlyfrom overseas, looking to acquire a secure, tangible asset. The summer was active, but noticeably slower, as it always is, with most of our transactions taking place in the flat market, young professionals tend not to be away for the entire month of August! After the schools went back, the market predictably picked up. I say picked up, but reallyI mean new buyer registrations went through the roof as we reached an all time high in SW7 of 21 buyers for every one property on the books. The level of new properties coming to market was frustratingly low, and is still an ongoingfeature of today's market. I believe this will remain so, until interest rates pick up in the not too distant future.
And so to now. The economy is buoyed with confidence as we head into the Christmas period. Properties for sale remain limited and demand is cautious, yet plentiful. The first year of trading for Marsh & Parsons' South Kensington office has been a huge success and I anticipate 2014 being even better.