Despite the appalling weather and newspaper reporting it is not all doom and gloom.
I wish to thank all of you who have responded so positively through the year to my reports. It is nice to know people are reading them and the information is of some interest.
It has been a tough year for the property industry and I am not convinced that there will be any major improvement over the course of the next 12 months. In addition to clients having to re-evaluate their investments and anticipated yield, and tenants/buyers seeking bargains, we, as surveyors and commercial agents, have had to change our marketing strategies and this will no doubt continue into the New Year with more on-line campaigns and the possible use of QR codes and other modern technology. It is hard to conceive that when I started in property 30 years ago mail-outs were done by hand, no computers were utilised and even Dictaphones were a rare commodity!
In general it has been a frustrating year for the commercial agency sector, which started quietly, picked up in early Spring, only then to die for the entire Summer and Autumn during the Jubilee and Olympics. As we ran towards the Winter months we began to see some interest in property, but it is only in the last month that I have suddenly received a number of offers for premises we have been marketing through the year and transactions suddenly lurched forward. Overall the number of transactions has declined significantly, although interestingly we have some larger transactions underway, which will (hopefully) boost the figures at the year-end. We are currently instructed on two sites, which would suit either the nursing or assisted living sector (an area close to my heart as my mother ran a Nursing Home for 26 years). We only just missed out on a third site acquisition earlier in the year and are currently seeking other opportunities for clients in this sector. The most active sector in the commercial market appears to have been retail, which flies in the face of public opinion. Whilst certain parts of the country and indeed parts of Eastbourne has suffered, there are few prime units available in the town. In Hailsham, it is a similar story and although we have some prime vacant units, there is interest in two of them and I am confident 2013 will see the remaining units move ahead.
Although the year got off to a slow start, business remained steady for the remainder of the year. I am still somewhat puzzled that the majority of the banks, who were criticised for bad lending, now (as a result of instructions from Head Office) frequently employout-of-town surveyors/valuers who invariably rely on local surveyors and agents to provide the evidence. Local knowledge is paramount for both valuation evidence and surveying where a knowledge of a site’s history (eg ground water levels/contaminated land etc) can prove imperative.
I am pleased to announce that Guy Bessant has been appointed a Director of Ross & Co from the beginning of 2013. Guy covers a wide variety of general valuation, lease review and renewal work, and also specialises in residential lease extension work and enfranchisement. He will be moving to our Eastbourne office where the majority of his work emanates. I am delighted that Guy has joined Scott and myself, and I am sure his move to Eastbourne will prove a success.
This part of the business, operated from our Eastbourne office by Scott Lynch, has proved to be the most successful and consistent throughout the year, with over 20% growth in the number of units managed since April, and further instructions are due to commence over the course of the next three months, which will undoubtedly result in an increase in staff numbers in the New Year. I am pleased to advise that we rarely become embroiled in litigation or tribunal hearings on any premises we manage. However, this year we acted on behalf of a client on a major contract, which did result in litigation and a subsequent tribunal hearing, due to non-payment of service charge monies. We were 100% successful and this is testimony to the efficient and effective management of the development by the Eastbourne Team.
I expect next year to be much the same for the Agency and Professional Departments, but our continued growth for the Management Team is a beacon of light and has always been the axis of the business since I took the helm at the start of the recession in 2008. We have plans for another “Property Surgery” in March and my door is always open in the event advice is required on any property issues.
Whilst I try to provide an insight into the property market, regretfully I do not have all of the answers and I would caution you that anyone who claims to, probably hasn’t understood the questions.
I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year and give special thanks to all clients, solicitors, friends and associates of Ross & Co, who have assisted us in our work throughout the year or introduced business, in particular the following:
NatWest Bank, RBS, Handelsbanken
Stephen Rimmer LLP, Barwells Quality Solicitors, Hart Reade & Co, Gaby Hardwicke, Mayo Wynne Baxter, McCarthy Webb, Heringtons, Lawson Lewis, Cornfield Law
South East Water, Childs Charitable Trust, St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Clear-View Properties Limited, the Kerridge family, Willingdon Court Limited, The Mattey Group, Holbeck & Lewis Developments.
Date Added: 02 Jan 2013
I have one new client who is urgently seeking a prime retail unit in Eastbourne, and I am retained to seek premises on their behalf. I have also received instructions on the sale of a substantial local and successful business to include their premises, and been retained by a third client to secure other retail warehouse premises in major towns along the South Coast. Furthermore, ASDA has now opened at Hailsham and Wealden District Council are moving their remaining staff from Crowborough to Hailsham, resulting in quite a noticeable improvement in footfall by retailers and me struggling to find a parking place for the first time since I took over Ross & Co 4.5 years ago!
Whilst the market generally remains quiet, with few new lettings agreed, we have offers on two properties to acquire on behalf of clients and several long term projects have either now completed or are nearing completion. These include a 20,000 sq ft industrial unit in Uckfield, which is due to complete in the next few days, and the agreement of an option for a client on a site for a Nursing Home or Assisted Living, as well as a letting of a shop unit in Seaford to The Co-op Funeral Care.
As Chairman of Hailsham and District Chamber of Commerce, I was invited recently to make a presentation to the proposed members of Hailsham’s Town Team which is currently being formed to secure finance from the National Government and co-ordinate improvements to the town with the co-operation of tenants, freeholders and Hailsham Town Council. I am delighted to say it was well received and the meeting will, I hope, lead to a pro-active body encouraging improvements to the town. The initial National grant of £10,000 has been awarded and the second meeting is due shortly.
Surveys & Valuations
Guy Bessant has been kept extremely busy over the last month with numerous urgent bank/building society valuations as well as instructions to renew a commercial lease and various lease extension valuations in respect of residential flats on behalf of freeholders.
Our structural surveyors have also been kept active catching up on various Health & Safety, Fire Safety and Asbestos reports, and insurance valuations. They have also seen a noticeable increase in requests for Residential Surveys & Home Buyer Reports.
The management department has as usual been exceedingly busy with on-going routine management as the weather deteriorates. This section of our business has grown by 20% over the last 6 months (our usual annual target) and is currently preparing numerous quotes for Residential blocks & Commercial premises
We held our first Property Advice Surgery jointly with Stephen Rimmer Solicitors, specifically designed to assist owners of long leasehold flats in respect of both management issues and lease extensions, which took place at Sovereign Harbour Yacht Club on 18th October from 5.30pm. It was a great success and our next is planned for early next year. Should you or any of your friends or family have issues in their blocks of flats, which are simply not being dealt with by your managing agent, then please contact the office to make an appointment and come along and see us now for free advice or come to our next free event, which will be run in conjunction with a different local solicitor.
My overall impression is that whilst it is still difficult for everyone, a positive and creative approach needs to be maintained. The property market has always suffered peaks and troughs and it will bounce back.
Thanks go out to the following for instructions and/or advice:
Lawson Lewis Solicitors
Paul de Pledge – Fowler de Pledge Solicitors
Barwells Quality Solicitors
Graff & Maher (Grafters Recruitment)
Church of England Pensions Board
Dr Elias & Partners c/o Glenn Sully
N Richards and McCarthy & Webb Solicitors
G M Monk & Associates
Willingdon Court Limited
National Westminster Bank
St Wilfrid’s Hospice
South East Water/Dalcour McLaren
Clear-View Properties Limited
Date Added: 07 Nov 2012
The summer months (if we had many) are drawing to a close, and the kids are nearly back at school, so no doubt the property market will return to normal, whatever that may be.
The commercial agency market has been, not surprisingly, quiet and I suspect, regardless of a “feel good factor” generated by the Olympics we will see little improvement and possible further deterioration with the on-going issues of Greece and its knock-on effect on the Euro. Being a Creative agency (i.e. finding the property for specific clients/applicants) is the order of the day and reminding landlords that property investment without a tenant quickly becomes a liability with vacant rates and deterioration of the structure. There are tenants and buyers out there but they are, quite rightly, selective and will only do business if they can gain an advantage.
The proposed extension to the Arndale Centre in Eastbourne will, when completed, greatly enhance the town centre shopping experience and if Eastbourne is successful in its attempts to get a new high speed train every hour to London Victoria, tourism will be boosted with a knock on effect for trading in the town.
Our surveying team has picked up several instructions with the emphasis on quality rather than quantity. Similarly our valuation surveyor, Guy Bessant, throughout the summer, has had a steady influx of lease extension valuations for long leasehold flats as well as various other interesting valuations for individuals, charities, pension funds and banks.
Scott Lynch (Director, Property Management) has been kept busy with new management instructions and on-going works on existing contracts. The entire management team watched with interest the Channel 4 Dispatches report on property management, which once again emphasised the essential importance of utilising professional property management companies although disappointingly suggested more legislation was appropriate. The coalition government would do better to listen to ARMA and insist on the use of qualified managing agents to provide a professional service, protect client monies and ensure a consistent level of service is provided.
The proposed ARMA Q will monitor registered managing agents when introduced and give leaseholders protection, similar to that offered by the RICS and improve quality of service.
There is, in this day and age, no excuse for leaseholders not to be fully conversant with property management procedures, albeit costs of tribunal hearings can still be prohibitively expensive. We have often found, as agents, that meetings with groups of lessees can, if organised properly, allow leaseholders to vent their concerns and better understand the complications experienced by managing agents.
With this in mind, Ross & Co will be holding a series of free Property Surgeries for lessees with specific management issues and lease extension queries, the first of which is to be held on 18th October 2012 in conjunction with Stephen Rimmer solicitors. If successful, further dates with other local solicitors will follow.
Many thanks to the Team and also to:-
Ian Coombs at Mayo Wynne Baxter Solicitors
Childs Charitable Trust
Clearview Properties Limited
Jacqueline Penfold, Andrew Rannie and John Benson at Hart Reade Solicitors
Jeremy Laws at Gaby Hardwicke Solicitors
Gary Brookshaw at Cornfield Law Solicitors
The NatWest Bank
Bond Pearce Solicitors
Mark Poulton at Stephen Rimmer Solicitors
Miss Stanley at Cobbetts Solicitors
Date Added: 08 Sep 2012
Change of format this month insofar as I would like to start with a big thank you to all those involved in arranging and supporting the St Wilfrid’s Charity Auction Lunch, which was a fantastic success and raised in excess of £30,000 for the new hospice. It is fast becoming THE summer charity auction lunch in the Eastbourne area, and for those who are thinking of attending next year, make sure you get your tickets early.
I have been fortunate this month to attend many networking charity events, which have resulted in establishing new contacts and provided some positive feedback on my monthly report, although it has led to some early starts and late evenings to try and catch up on the work missed whilst out of the office. I am sure it will pay dividends in the end.
For those who read in the local press that we were moving our Hailsham offices, I apologise (once again) for the error on behalf of the newspaper.
Overall the market is still “ticking over” and despite events in Europe and certain parts of the banking sector making headlines for all the wrong reasons, there still appears to be an underlying positive approach in the business community, or at the very least a refusal to lie down and surrender.
Insofar as the individual sectors of the market I would comment as follows:
The news of ASDA coming to Hailsham reported last month has certainly created a buzz around the town with two multiples that had previously shown a vague interest in the town contacting my offices with renewed vigour. We also have some interesting instructions in the pipeline in Eastbourne which will be forthcoming shortly, as well as renewed interest in secondary pitches, such as Seaside, with new tenants wishing to ply their trade.
We completed on a surrender and re-grant on an industrial unit in Hailsham this month, having previously finalised the Schedule of Dilapidations on behalf ofthe Landlord. We have also completed several valuations for both owner occupiers and investors acquiring interests in the area, and a steady trickle of interest for the modern small units seems to continue. As Chairman of the Hailsham and District Chamber of Commerce, I attended a meeting with Hailsham Town Council who are keen to promote the Hailsham district further and try to improve communication with the local industrialists in Hailsham and its surrounding area.
I am delighted to announce the sale of the St Wilfrid’s office building in Upperton Road which was sold jointly with us and Barnard Marcus at their London auction. Other than this there is little progress in this sector.
Surveys and Other Professional Work
Guy Bessant has been busy once again having received instructions on numerous residential lease extensions as well as completing both commercial and residential valuations for probate and retrospective valuations on behalf of major institutional clients. Our surveyor has been away for part of this month and in the run up to summer there are few Homebuyer Reports requested.
Both Scott and I attend an ARMA lecture this month, which was extremely informative. It is great to see this specialist group beginning to get recognition for their attempts at raising the standard and profile of, in particular, Residential Block Management, which is an area that has been suffering from bad publicity for many years. Regretfully the government have recently refused to legislate in so far as insisting managing agents need to be either ARMA members or RICS qualified in order to practice. Having specialised in this area for over 21 years, it is extremely litigious and requires property managers to have a good understanding of accounts, leases and negotiating skills. The slightest error can result in non recovery of funds and litigation against clients and agents.
We are experiencing a continual, steady increase in new instructions in the Residential Block Management sector.
Thanks to all of you who take the trouble to read and/or comment on my blog, which I hope at least gives everyone a flavour of what is going on in the property world. Special thanks go to the following:St Wilfrid’s Charity
Stephen Holt of Mayo Wynne Baxter
Leta Kerin, Stephen Rimmer and Mark Poulton of Stephen Rimmer Solicitors
Nick Wickens at Gaby Hardwicke
Paul Chaloner and Andrew Woods at Barwells Solicitors
Nadine Ashford of Lawson Lewis Solicitors
Ian Stewart of Heringtons Solicitors
Andrew Ranie of Hart Reade Solicitors
Aileen Francis of Percy Walker & Co
Alan Fuller of Royal Bank of Scotland (Reading)
Jonathan Brooks of Cobbetts LLP
Glen Moore of G M Moore & Associates
Ms J Chown of Orbit Homes
Date Added: 06 Jul 2012
General activity inthe market is still very slow in all sectors and concluding any transactionentails extensive negotiations usually followed by further complications!
There are however somepositive signs.
Retail – Hailsham is an improving town with excellent growth prospects andthis has now been recognised by ASDA, who have completed the lease for the oldCo-op unit in the Quintins Centre and propose to expand the unit to includeclothes sales. With over 3,000 homesplanned for the town (half of which have planning or are already underconstruction) and with Wealden Council transferring their Planning Departmentto their offices in Hailsham (currently under refurbishment), wise traders havealready been filling the empty units in the High Street. We have relocated AB Mobility to St Mary’sWalk and the new Chapter Twelve wine bar is now open. With free parking in the town, Hailsham willno doubt continue to grow and draw customers from the surrounding villages.
Whilst Eastbourne prime units are generallysuccessful (it should be noted that various units in the Arndale Centre are, weunderstand, currently under negotiation) the secondary market has suffered in asimilar way that Hailsham experienced within the previous 3 to 4 years. Rest assured both ourselves and othercolleagues are working hard to fill the units..
Industrial – Usually the first sector to recover from recession. Investors areresurfacing to buy good quality industrial units in the area. Businesses that have been consolidating overthe last 3 to 4 years appear to now have steady cash flows and are looking tothe future expansion of the business whilst exports are favourable.
Offices – No real signs of improvement for this sector for the present. We are, however, hopeful that with WealdenCouncil bringing a further 130 to 150 staff to Hailsham later in the year this maywell create additional demand for ancillary services in the town.
Surveys and other Professional Services - Thispast month our surveyors have been busy preparing specifications of works andobtaining estimates for clients, both within our management department andother clients for whom we act on acquisition and disposal. We have also been advising in respect ofschedules of condition/dilapidations at the commencement/ending of leases onvarious sectors of the market.
Both Guy Bessant and AntonBree have been reviewing a client’s portfolio in respect of lease renewals andgeneral management with an eye for the future redevelopment or conversion ofvarious units.
Property Management – Having met with an old client to provide advicein respect of lease extensions on residential units, we have now receivedinstructions on two new blocks in Eastbourne. The management team have also been progressing proposed building worksat various developments and both Scott Lynch and Anton Bree attended a recentLVT hearing on behalf of a client and await the final decision.
We are pleased toannounce that Anton Bree, MD of Ross & Co, has been appointed the Chairmanof Hailsham & District Chamber of Commerce and would welcome both newmembers and non-members to contact him with ideas to expand the membership andpromote Hailsham, which prior to its current resurgence has suffered from apoor press. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We would like toremind you that the St Wilfrid’s Charity Auction Lunch is to be held at theSaffrons on 20 June – tickets are available through Elizabeth.email@example.com
Thank you to all ourclients and local businesses who have introduced us to new clients, with special thanks to:
Barwells Quality Solicitors
Jonathan Walters at Helix Law in Brighton
The Childs Charitable Trust
Kingsway Communications Wayne Ozard at AndrewsEstate Agents, Eastbourne
Date Added: 01 Jun 2012
Welcome to our Blog
It has been a quiet month and generally all deals are extremely hard work with extensive negotiations and tenants/buyers frequently making an incorrect assumption that all clients are desperate!
However, some premises we expected to shift are sticking around as finance is still hard to place and there are still a lot of nerves in the market.
Letting or selling commercial property - New legislation requiring an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) for all commercial premises that Agents offer is now in place (from 6.4.12) and woe betide the non-compliant Agent as Trading Standards will be enforcing the legislation, which is here to stay whether we like it or not! There are fines of up to £5,000 for non-compliance. See our News Page for more details.
Retail Property – Offers are still being received and deals agreed although in the majority these tend to be on the smaller units. There is little interest in prime units as many of the major retailers are unwilling to make any further commitments. The news on the proposal for the old Co-op unit in Eastbourne is promising and will boost footfall at that end of Terminus Road when the development is completed. Hailsham has been quieter this month. We continue our negotiations for 3 units in the town and, of course, Dominos are taking a unit adjoining Vicarage Field. There is also the proposed Hailsham Charter Market, which is planned for June.
Industrial Property - Once again it is the smaller units generating the majority of interest with 2 units under offer, although we have received considerable interest and an offer in respect of 1 large unit. There has been some positive progress and interest in an Eastbourne site this month, and there is still a demand for high quality B1 shed/office units in the Eastbourne and Hailsham areas.
Offices - Probably the hardest sector at present, but with the Government accepting the Mary Portas proposal to allow consent for conversion to residential there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. Eastbourne and its surrounds have never been a major office target town for the larger companies, but we can change this by improving the quality of space available.
Surveys and other Professional Services - We have had the usual flow of instructions to our surveyors, including Homebuyer reports and Specialist reports (Health and Safety/Asbestos/Fire Safety), on behalf of our Management Department and other clients, which continues to keep our surveyors busy, both locally and as far away as Redditch!
Guy Bessant has also been busy with retrospective valuations producing detailed Expert Witness Reports. Lease Extension Valuations also continue to provide a steady flow of business in addition to the Insurance, Charity Act and Pension Fund Valuations he has completed for numerous clients.
Property Management – Our Team continues to receive new instructions including another prominent Town Centre building this month. Always keen on keeping up to date with changes in Legislation and modern management methods, both Scott and Mary regularly took part in a webinar run by Brethertons solicitors as recommended by ARMA. Also I attended a very interesting Fire Regulatory lecture to ensure the approach we use when producing Fire Risk Assessments are in line with the latest recommended procedures.
Probably the most important news is the return of the St. Wilfrid’s Charity Auction Lunch to be held at The Saffrons, organised once again by Keith and Rosemary Ross. Tables or individual tickets are now available, but will no doubt sell fast. This event was a huge success last year and if you wish to help in any way or book tickets/tables contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all our clients and Local Businesses who have introduced us to new clients and special thanks to the following:
Ian Stewart of Heringtons
Ian Woodward of Nat West Bank
Stork Cole Solicitors (London)
Jonathon Walters of Helix Law Brighton
David Ashton of Rix and Kay Solicitors
Mayo Wynne Baxter Solicitors
Local builders Holbeck and Lewis
Mike Ogilvie for organizing such a great talk in April @ BBF
Date Added: 30 Apr 2012