My £4m proof that prop­erty’s hot again

With Kelly Hop­pen on board, de­vel­oper Paul Eden is feel­ing perky. By Candice Krieger

The Jewish Chronicle - - Business -

THE PROP­ERTY mar­ket in Lon­don is re­cov­er­ing bet­ter than in any other re­gion, says de­vel­oper Paul Eden.

The founder of Re­gal Homes, a Lon­don-based com­pany with a mar­ket val­u­a­tion in ex­cess of £100m, Mr Eden be­lieves ac­tiv­ity is pick­ing up, par­tic­u­larly at the higher end of the mar­ket.

Ear­lier this year, he sold a house in Hyde Park Gar­dens, re­vamped by Bri­tish in­te­rior de­signer Kelly Hop­pen, for £4m. Hav­ing been in­tro­duced three years ago, the duo are now work­ing to­gether on sev­eral of Re­gal’s top-end projects. Mr Eden is launch­ing close to £50m-worth of prop­erty in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the de­signer, most re­cently 100 Clifton Hill, which is ex­pected to sell for £12.5m.

It is the higher end of the mar­ket that is busier at the mo­ment, says Mr Eden, whose port­fo­lio ranges from £275,000 to £15m prop­er­ties. “Over the past cou­ple of months, the amount of in­quiries and view­ings that are com­ing through have quadru­pled.

“I’m not say­ing we are go­ing back into a prop­erty boom — but there is light at the end of the tun­nel. We are see­ing a lot more ac­tiv­ity, a lot more foot­fall go­ing through our prop­er­ties, a lot more of­fers and a lot more things go­ing in hand.”

The three-bed­room, two-bath­room apart­ment sold in Hyde Park, which was the for­mer home of the late Lord Mish­con, achieved a record price of £1,750 per sq ft.

Mr Eden, 36, says he is wit­ness­ing pre­dom­i­nately over­seas buy­ers; Indi- an, Rus­sian, Nige­rian, Is­raeli and South African Jewish clients.

What makes Lon­don so at­trac­tive? “Lon­don is a spe­cial place. We be­lieve the prime Lon­don mar­ket is re­cov­er­ing much quicker than out­side the M25. It’s a hub. I speak to the City boys and peo­ple mov­ing from abroad and I say: ‘Why don’t you go and live in Manch­ester or Leeds?’ Every­one wants to live in Lon­don be­cause it’s the place to be. It is com­pletely over­pop­u­lated and we are aware of that.” He adds: “Lon­don is re­cov­er­ing much quicker than out­side. You go to Leeds, Manch­ester and those ar­eas and they can’t give away the prop­er­ties. There is build­ing af­ter build­ing af­ter build­ing that is empty in Manch­ester, Leeds and Birm­ing­ham, but Lon­don has this spe­cial feel­ing about it.”

Es­tab­lished in 1998, Re­gal Homes turns over around 100 units a year. Not bad con­sid­er­ing Mr Eden left school at 16 to be­come a “mar­ket boy”. He be­came a reg­u­lar at Wem­b­ley and Bov­ing­don mar­kets, sell­ing gloves for 99p a pair be­fore he got ap­proached by an old friend who was work­ing at El­lis & Co in Knights­bidge at the time.

“He wanted me to help him set up a prop­erty let­tings busi­ness. I told him that I had no idea about let­tings, and he said he would teach me. The duo in­vested their barmitzvah money — around £4,000 each — to set up In Lon­don Prop­er­ties, spe­cial­is­ing in res­i­den­tial sales, let­tings and man­age­ment. They then joined forces with Clive Tru­man and Com­pany. “Three years later I thought: ‘Why am I sup­ply­ing de­vel­op­ers with all th­ese deals when I can set some­thing up by my­self?”

Mr Eden in­vested his earn­ings from In Lon­don to launch Re­gal Homes. His first deal was 31d Fitzjohn’s Av­enue. This re­mains the only deal in the firm’s his­tory that made a loss.

How con­cerned is he about the cur­rent state of the mar­ket? “At the beginning of the year, you might as well have jumped off a build­ing. It was just hor­ren­dous, but you can’t even com­pare now to then.” He pre­dicts the sit­u­a­tion will im­prove in the early quar­ters of next year. “We have lev­elled off. We had a lit­tle jump at the beginning of the sum­mer. We have gone through this ‘W’ shape and are com­ing back out of the last part of the ‘W’. We are at the bot­tom and peo­ple are go­ing to take ad­van­tage of cheap in­ter­est rates at the mo­ment.” And of course, the ad­di­tion of Kelly Hop­pen is help­ing the com­pany.

“Kelly has taken us to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent level.” That said, Mr Eden ac­knowl­edges that busi­ness is by no means easy. “You have to work hard. A lot of com­pa­nies have sunk over the past 18 months but we have man­aged to ride the storm.

“If you want to get through this credit crunch, it’s all about hard work, fo­cus­ing and make sure you cut your costs,” adds Mr Eden, who was at In Lon­don Prop­er­ties dur­ing the 1991 down­turn. “You can’t com­pare them. This has been the worst credit crunch and it is a world­wide re­ces­sion, which we have not ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. Hope­fully we will never see this again.

“Banks are slowly start­ing to lend again but at huge fees. Usu­ally we were pay­ing 1 or 1.5 per cent ar­range­ment fees and now they are try­ing to squeeze us for 4 to 5 per cent, which is not help­ful. But they are ob­vi­ously try­ing to bal­ance their books again and take their nice chunky bonuses.”

As for Re­gal, the plan, he says, is to keep ex­pand­ing. “We have got through the past 18 months and are now a lot stronger. We thought the mar­ket would con­tinue to rise up un­til the Olympics. We have seen how quickly it can turn.”

The Hyde Park prop­erty sold by Paul Eden — it cost £1,750 per sq ft

Work­ing to­gether: In­te­rior de­signer Kelly Hop­pen and Paul Eden

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