Mon 01 Sep 2014
Liza-Jane Kelly, sales director at Marsh & Parsons explains why Bishops Park rules the roost in Fulham.
It seems fitting that Liza-Jane Kelly suggests that we meet at Fulham Palace. After all, where better to dissect the merits of the surrounding Bishops Park area than at the historic home of the Bishops of London, after whom the locale takes its name. "I have a four-year-old daughter and a four-month-old son who I take for a walk here every weekend," she tells me as we skirt past the refurbished children's play area. "It gets quite busy during the school holidays with lots of people having picnics, but if you come early enough its very peaceful and you're guaranteed to meet a new friendly face."
From knowing which roads boast the biggest gardens to where to get the best cup of coffee ('Cafe Tinto is an institution, a real local gem. My daughter loves the babychinos served there, and Paul the manager is fantastic'), Liza-Jane is a font of local knowledge, much like her agents.
In the same way that a cabbie has to take "The Knowledge", the Marsh & Parsons team is required to have an encyclopedic grasp of the local streets, schools, watering holes and restaurants on the daily beat. "It's not simply a case of knowing about the obvious places. We want our team to have hidden gems at the tip of their tongues. The need to know about the newsagent down the road that is open extra early, the name of the cafe where your dog will be greeted with treats, the date of the next farmers' market, the bus routes that will get you into town, or where to go for your plants now that the Garden Centre is sadly closing down. These are the things that buyers want to find out before they move to an unfamiliar area," Liza-Jane explains.
Marsh & Parsons Bishops Park office - the company's second Fulham outlet - celebrated its first birthday this summer. The opening of this branch was a long time coming for an area which ahs traditionally been oveshadowed by other popular SW6 addresses, such as the Peterborough Estate. But this is changing, Liza-Jane tells me. "More and more people are beginning to appreciate the appeal of moving here," she says.
Family homes with the potential for both loft and basement extensions, bigger gardens and a whole raft of facilities on the doorstep, together with the peace and quiet of the river, are at the root of Bishops Park's appeal. "Fulham Palace Road has already started to have something of a facelift and Putney Bridge Tube Station is only a 10 minute walk away," Liza-Jane continues. "Some people had the misconception that it was a bit out of the way over here, but in fact, we have our own community, which is actively involved in improving the area. The Friends of Bishops Park, for example, has done fabulous work to ensure the park is a place everyone can enjoy."
The property market in Bishops Park, like much of Fulham, experienced staggering price hikes in the first quarter of this year, with a number of premium freehold houses rising by as much as 20%.
According to Marsh & Parsons statistics, there were more thatn 25 buyers registered for every available property at that time. "During the typically busy spring period we experienced what I would refer to as a slight realignment in the market," Liza-Jane tells me. "The Mortgage Market Review released in April has had a hand in this. The emphasis is now on affordability and as a result we are noticing things slowing down slightly as bankers and borrowers get used to the regulations."
Under the new mortgage guidelines, you can expect banks to probe you about everything from your daily spending to your weekly shopping bill. "They basically want to know your inner leg measurement," Liza-Jane jokes. With the imbalance of stock beginning to level out, buyers now have a little more choice. "I think there was an attitude for a while that if a property sold for 500,000, the following month the neighbour would expect to sell theirs for 600,000. Vendors' expectations are now more realistic," she says.
September traditionally marks a time of invigoration for the property market after the summer. "People might have put the brakes on in August, but now they are back with renewed rigour and determination. I don't think prices will go crazy, but we'll see a healthy volume of sales," Liza-Jane concludes. She admits that as much as she would like a crystal ball, she is no Mystic Meg when it comes to predicting what the market has in store for the long term, especially if the rise in interest rates goes ahead sooner than expected.
Her advice is based on practicality rather than speculation. She strongly recommends that vendors put their properties on the market for a realistic price so as not to frighten people away. Her words of wisdom to potential buyers are to not be afraid to make offers, as the market is now more open to accepting them.
As well as dishing out advice, Marsh & Parsons also has a few tokens of appreciation up its sleeves for clients. When it comes to finally sealing the deal, people buying a property through the agents receive gifts ranging from candles to Champagne to Fortnum & Mason hampers, so they can crack open gourmet delights amid the unpacked boxes. Liza-Jane also tells me that the company offers a handyman or technician for an hour to make sure the transition into your new abode is a little less stressful.
"In our weekly meetings everyone has to share something new about the area so that we are constantly educated. We make it our business to live and breate Bishops Park", she assures. While most estate agents might be renowned for avoiding public transport, it is pleasently surprising to hear that Liza-Jane's team must pass the bus route test. "They need to know their way around by foot, tube, bus, boat and car, or else!" she jokes. The bishops would be proud.
333Fulham Palace Road, SW6 6TE
020 7993 9888