‘I’m still not buy­ing’

The Jewish Chronicle - - Business - David Pearl is Chair­man of The Struc­tadene Group

NOW that Yom Kip­pur is be­hind us for an­other year I feel re­lieved and re­freshed. I didn’t have to do too much pray­ing be­cause I lead a vir­tu­ally sin-free life, but I had plenty of time to re­flect on two of my favourite things — food (and my res­o­lu­tion, fol­low­ing hyp­nother­apy, not to eat so much of it) and prop­erty.

I can feel the mar­ket turn­ing. Au­gust was quiet on let­tings but Septem­ber took off like a rocket. It feels just a lit­tle bit bet­ter. I am not sug­gest­ing that we are any­where near “good times” but there is more en­ergy out there — more en­thu­si­asm and op­ti­mism. Maybe it’s just the “back to school” thing that we al­ways ex­pe­ri­ence in Septem­ber or maybe we are all just tired of the gloom.

Septem­ber is al­ways a good month for res­i­den­tial let­tings be­cause the stu­dents reap­pear and our let­tings team is fully stretched. Many stu­dents stay in our prop­er­ties for a cou­ple of years and we have more ap­pli­cants than we can ac­com­mo­date.

My big hate is voids so I pre­fer to charge a lit­tle bit less rent than other land­lords and have the prop­er­ties oc­cu­pied, than see flats ly­ing empty. We are quite re­laxed and young peo­ple like that. And they are get­ting a cen­tral Lon­don ad­dress for a rea­son­able rent.

Hav­ing said that, we are now see­ing an in­crease in de­mand for flats in tren­di­fied Hack­ney — where you are more at risk of get­ting run over by one of the army of bi­cy­cles (of which I hugely ap­prove) than mugged — than in Beauchamp Place.

The com­mer­cial mar­ket in Lon­don is steady, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to let­ting small build­ings of which we have a good stock. My mother (G-d rest her soul) al­ways told me not to put all my eggs in one bas­ket and it is at times like th­ese that I am re­minded how right she was.

Out­side Lon­don things are less pos­i­tive but could be worse. There is a big turnover of ten­ants but our va­cancy list re­mains static at about 5 per cent. It is the same old units that tend to hang around on our books. Oth­ers be­come va­cant and we let them in a flash.

I am still not buy­ing. Peo­ple who are have cash — typ­i­cally £1m or so that they don’t know what else to do with — and good luck to them. I will start again when the time is right but it isn’t now. There have been mur­mur­ings about a change com­ing in March next year. We will wait and see.

In the mean­time, it is more of the same and tak­ing time out for dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences. A cou­ple of weeks ago I walked along Hadrian’s Wall with three friends — an­other prop­erty per­son, a banker and a busi­ness­man. There must be a joke in there some­where but I’m not sure what it is.

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