Climbing the ladder
Wed 05 Aug 2015
The journal asks Robbie Dillon, associate director at Marsh and Parsons' Fulham branch, to sketch a picture of the lettings market
Fulham has long been considered one of south-west London's steadiest markets when it comes to lettings, particularly for large family houses. 'The market here has always been busy - the election didn't slow activity at all,' begins local agent Robbie Dillon. 'Afterwards there were, admittedly, a few more reluctant landlords (wanting six-month break clauses) - but that was all.' However, a change is coming to SW6. 'In Kensington & Chelsea, expansive one and two-bedroom apartments have been popular for a while - but that's not always been the case in Hammersmith & Fulham,' he explains. 'To that end, these days developers are more and more often creating large one-bedroom flats with L-shaped sofas, open-plan kitchens and huge bedrooms to suit the many young professionals choosing to make Fulham their home.' The developers also make larger profits from these modern apartments than the smaller, more traditional style of two-bedroom property that used to form the market, he continues.
But it's not just the market that's changing in SW6, Robbie admits. 'There used to be underdeveloped parts of Fulham, but these days, potential tenants are spoilt for choice.' They do often have fairly fixed ideas about where in the area they want to settle, though. 'A good example of requests I often get from clients is: "I want to be south of Joe's Brasserie but north of Waitrose",' he says.
One of the most influential changes in the local market has been the increase in tenants who accept that they won't get onto the property ladder for a while, but who want to live well while they wait. 'We often deal with some very impressive budgets,' Robbie reveals. With the beautiful weather we're currently experiencing in London, that must make options with gardens, balconies or terraces more popular,we suggest. 'Properties with something special like that, a space to entertain, are always sought-after,' he agrees.
Although Robbie now lives in Chelsea (just a six-minute Boris-bike away) he lived in Fulham for years and has always loved it. However, his launch into the world of London property didn't go as smoothly as that of his clients, who benefit hugely from his experience (and past personal faux-pas). 'When I first arrived in London, I rented a place that I'd thought was in Putney, but turned out to actually be in Wandsworth,' he recalls, with a grin. But that was back when Robbie was working in office settlements with a view to eventually becoming a trader. All of that changed with the credit crunch of 2008 Robbie by that point was already head-over-heels for the capital. 'I was crestfallen by the thought I might have to leave London,' he says. 'I discussed the situation with my mother (the managing director of one of Ireland's must reputable estate agents) and she put me in touch with some of the directors at Marsh & Parsons.' A round of interviews later, Robbie was determinedly climbing the career ladder. Going from trainee to senior negotiator at the BrookGreen office, he progressed to a senior management role in Clapham and then became an associate director at Holland Park, before replacing the head of the Fulham branch last November.
So what would he say the defining characteristic of the SW6 market is? 'Very few people move out,' he replies, 'because few of the neighbouring areas are quite as good.'