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Agent Provocateur: Some of the best known names in London are in real trouble


Happy New Year to everyone reading.

There’s no one size fits all response to the “How was 2016 for you?” question, but the “Not bad, thank you” response seems to be reserved, for the first time in 100 years, to anyone working outside London and maybe even the south-east – unless you’re a letting agent, in which case it’s the best time in London since the last load of accidental landlords happened along in 2009.

Soliciting a tear for anyone struggling in London is a tough ask, even if some of the best-known and most surprising names are in real trouble, close to and even going over the edge.

I’ve banged on for years about how sucking the life out of the top end of the market, easily dismissed as irrelevant by the majority, has an entirely disproportionate affect on lower value properties.

I’ve even spent [literally] hours on various radio stations over the holidays bringing this up, to be repeatedly asked if I was losing my marbles. Luckily, once given a chance to explain, I stopped being considered a winsome blast from the past.

2017 is the UK in general’s chance to shine, at last. Nominal property prices that, by and large, are less than they were ten years ago have led investors to abandon London to seek returns.

Level-headed home owners are moving wholesale to towns and cities like Brighton, Ashford, Reading, Leeds, Newcastle, Bristol, Birmingham, etc etc…

I think some are going over the top, though. Student investment has, in my view, reached peak madness with the Fizzy Living model being applied to Russell Group University towns resulting in weekly rents of £200 and more.

What happened to sharing a house with seven other spotty, pissed mates all trying to eat your green fuzzy yoghurt out of a filthy fridge? Maybe that’s where the Me Generation, currently being spoiled by the last baby boomer parents, is going wrong and raising future housing expectations too high. Frankly, after one year of living in Nine Tree Hill in Bristol, running water seemed like a bonus to me.

No, 2017 is going to be the first year in my 38th in the industry where those making positive noises aren’t making them about London.

* Ed Mead was until last year a London agent, with Douglas & Gordon. He is now a director of outsourced viewing service www.Viewber.co.uk and an independent property consultant /ator: ed-mead.com

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