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Press & News Blog

Independent Mortgage adviser JeanPierre went from flipping burgers to houses before finding his true calling

Practice what you preach. It’s good advice but not everyone abides by it, including mortgage brokers. Some may perhaps have the odd dalliance with a buy to let and their own home, but that’s it.  Jeanpierre however, spent 10 years at the coal face as an Estate Agent in London, whilst developing and investing in his own property projects. Undeniably this gives him an edge; he’s worn the now threadbare t-shirt and can relate to his clients anxieties or concerns. Often acting as a confidante, he guides them on the pitfalls and advantages of each offering to maximise the benefits of their lending, as they traverse the property ladder.
 
So what made you give up agency to become a broker?
 
“Well, before I did that, I opened a burger bar in Bicester.”

As you do!?! I have to ask, why?

“I  worked in Mcdonalds when I was 16 so I always thought I’d end up back here, flipping burgers.” he jokes.

No, but seriously, why?

“There weren't any joints around here at the time and I fancied a change of lifestyle.”

Really? So what happened?

“I didn’t like the smell.” We are conducting this interview on the phone but even I can tell he’s grinning from cheek to cheek. You get the sense Jeanpierre enjoys life and doesn’t believe in sweating the small stuff.

“The real reason is I qualified for my ceMAP before moving up  but we just had our son so I put things on hold as I fancied a change. When returning to the fray I decided that brokering would enable me greater flexibility for our family. Plus people like mortgage advisors, as an Estate Agent I always had to overcome the inherent distrust. ”

So 10 years in as a broker, what have you noticed in the past few months. There has been lots of headlines about 95% mortgages, have you seen a dramatic uptake in these?

“Not really, the thing is the interest rate on them is still pretty high at the moment. As time goes on these will reduce but for now your repayments are sizable. I suspect they are keeping them high at present so the market isn’t further inundated”

In London during the Pandemic and with the news of corporation tax increases in 2023, the media speculated that landlords wouldn’t be buying any new stock, have you noticed this?

“No. I have plenty of clients who are still buying buy-to-lets during and post lockdown. There is always opportunity to be found.”

For anyone looking who doesn’t think they can get a mortgage or knows the process, what would you say to them.

“Don’t assume a bad credit history means no mortgage - there is literally a mortgage for everyone, so don't despair. It is even possible to get a mortgage if you're bankrupt. (it's not cheap mind you!) The initial process takes 10 minutes and costs you nothing. I can have a Decision in Principle to you the very same day.”

Is there anything you would suggest buyers don’t do?

“Don’t bother looking at any property till you have a Decision in Principle. It’s a waste of everyone's time if you can’t afford the property.
Also, don’t base your lending power on Compare the Market - price comparison sites are great for getting an idea of what is out there but they are far from the complete picture and their affordability calculators are notoriously optimistic in order to get the business. There are many factors that will affect a mortgage and most are not taken into account by Meerkats.

Importantly, make sure you compare the whole market - I have access to over 90 lenders. All the high street brands and loads of banks most people have never heard of. Many of them only work with brokers and so they don't advertise on price comparison sites. So, even if you've banked with Nationwide for 20 years and think you will get a great deal if you stick with them for your mortgage and some Meerkats agree, it really can pay to check there isn't something better out there...saving £100 a month over a 5 year fixed rate deal adds up to £6,000! And it's free to ask me to check.”

If you are looking at remortgaging or financing a build, Jeanpierre won’t just provide you with quotes and offers but a steady, and humorous, hand to steer you clear on your borrowing journey.

E -Jeanpierre.Kalebic@mab.org.uk


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The Geffrye Museum reopens as the Museum of the Home

The Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road reopened as the Museum of the Home last Saturday following an £18m redevelopment which has taken over two years. The public space has doubled with the opening of new exhibition spaces on the lower ground floors, a bigger café, learning pavilion, library and new entrance opposite Hoxton Overground station. The refurbished period rooms have been supplemented by 500 previously unseen object and a new focus on telling the story of the home through personal stories.

This East London institution, which has always been popular with families, expects visitor numbers to grow from 120,000 to 170,000 per year when it reopens. Entry is free, with booked tickets only, and visitors are encouraged to donate £5 or £10 each when booking.

As part of the redevelopment, eight luxury apartments were developed adjacent to the site with views over the museum grounds. Fyfe Mcdade is currently selling these apartments; click here for details.
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Interview with Architect Jake Edgley from Edgley Design

As an architect and a developer, Jake Edgley has experience in spades and yet he exudes calm. If you were in a crisis situation, you’d want him around. A father of three, he built their home in Dulwich whilst living out of a caravan, after selling their home in North London for a site without planning. It took several years to be completed as he decided to self-build with a team of friends, and adopt the lost art of board marked concrete, which took considerable research and experimentation.

His wife is a very patient lady.

This desire to explore techniques and ideas became a habit which he cherishes, as it enables him to test out some of his more radical ideas, assimilating cost, time taken and accomplishment, before recommending them to clients, from his RIBA award winning practice, ‘Edgley Design’.  

Son of an aeroplane designer and a silversmith artist, it’s no surprise he grew up making things. Drawn to science and art, architecture was the perfect fit. Having qualified, he took a year off to travel around New Zealand and Australia where his interest in sustainable materials was piqued, before returning home to Islington and purchasing a backland site.
Here again, there was no guarantee that he would ever be able to build what he wanted, but after a few years, perseverance paid off and he built two beautifully crafted houses behind Chapel Market. At the same time he opened his practice specialising in these types of backland sites and sustainable homes.

Due to his understanding of the process, private developers seek him out when valuing a site and advising on planning. When I ask what his favourite part of the process is, he says it's the “building the site, the making of it. The end is always tinged with sadness as the journey is completed.” There is something frontier like about designing and building a home. “You are creating something from nothing that is a living, functional thing that you hope will stand the test of time. You don’t decide to build your own home if you don’t have an adventurous spirit.”

Edgely became so engrossed in the finer details, he and his select team now design their own CNC 3D joinery that eliminates the need for glue or a joinery workshop for manufacturing, the builder can assemble the flatpack joinery on site. He’s also taken to creating chandeliers made from offcuts of their buildings – please see their Instagram for examples. Currently they are working on a number of projects and Edgley’s own, which involves converting a Funeral Parlour, where he recently uncovered and preserved a 200 year old shop fascia that was hidden beneath, and creating another home to the rear of it.
 
I wonder what the next challenge is and Jake replies “to create a series of Eco houses outside London with their own sub community.”  So ‘frontier town’ it is then!
To me, Edgley’s style seamlessly merges contemporary and organic materials to create spaces that exude aesthetic calm. Maximizing light to fall on beautifully orchestrated linear lines that cast mesmerizing patterns throughout the day.

Over the years Fyfe has had the pleasure of selling a few of Edgelys properties, and the reactions of buyers is always wonderful to watch. It’s as if they are walking into an Art installation piece which evokes a sense of wonder accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to jump up and down.
So when it comes to choosing an Architect, who would you choose? The one who puts his money where his mouth is or one who just spends others. I for one, know which one I’d choose.
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Nationwide to lend Fist-Time Buyers up to 5.5 x salary

Yesterday Nationwide, the UK biggest building society, launched its Helping Hand mortgages which will allow first time buyers to borrow up to 5.5 times earnings, 20% more than the typical 4.5x maximum. Loans will need to be for a fixed term of five or ten years with a minimum deposit of 10% of the property price (or 15% for a new build or to borrow over £500,000, and 20% to borrow more than £750,000).

The interest rate has not been disclosed, but Nationwide says it will be above its five-year fixed rate.   Affordability tests will be adjusted to facilitate qualification for these larger loans. There will be minimum income limits at around the median level of UK earnings (£34,567 for men and £30,258 for women) and they will not be available to the self-employed or for shared ownership properties.

Due to regulatory limits just £1bn of loans are available under the scheme; this equates to 5,000 loans at the average mortgage amount of £200,000. Nationwide is also considering reintroducing a 5% mortgage, as several other lenders have done as part of the Government-backed scheme.
Raising a deposit, passing affordability checks and securing a big enough mortgage are significant challenges, especially for first time buyers. Just over a third of 24-35 year olds own properties, compared to over half twenty years ago. House prices in London are currently 18.0 times average earnings, compared to 10.7 times across the UK.
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5% Mortgages hit the High Street

Government-backed 5% mortgages will be launched by several lenders today. The scheme, announced in the spring budget and running up to the end of 2022, will allow new and current homeowners to borrow up to 95% of their property price on homes up to £600,000. Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest and Santander are offering the loans, with Virgin Money to offer them from May. There will be a wide variety of loans available under the scheme, although some will not be available for new build properties.

This move will help many who have struggled to get an adequate mortgage over the last year, as many low deposit mortgages were withdrawn in the face of the pandemic. 5% deposit mortgages have not been widely available since May 2020.

According to government data, almost 80% of private renters are now saving for a deposit to buy a home.
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Owner of Fieldworks Gym, Stuart Frew, on taking the weight during the Pandemic

First off, Stuart Frew can walk. As we pace around London Fields in the Spring sunshine, I realise I’m walking faster than myself or my family would believe I’m capable of, and I’m maintaining it. What Stuart has unconsciously done is proven that my default can be adjusted.

In essence this is what Fieldworks does best, it focuses on stretching your capability by making a series of small consistent changes, enabling you then to run faster, be stronger or shift any unwanted pounds.
 
The stripped back gym, situated under the arches at the top of London Fields, precariously close to the bakery Pophams, isn’t your archetypal gym. Classes are restricted to 12 to create a sense of camaraderie amongst the participants whilst also leaving nowhere to hide, so any bad technique can be picked up on and adjusted.

In contrast to other gyms there isn’t a mirror in sight. The focus is on you and your internal progression as opposed to how you look, eliminating any showboating.

A proud family man, Stuart comes across as gentle and considerate but his past career in the Marines indicates that he is anything but a push over. You only have to follow Fieldworks Instagram to see the frankly insane things he does for charity.

The transition from marine to civilian life can be hard for some but Stuart focused on what he enjoyed in service, training and mentoring, and used that to forge a new career path.
After initially offering PT sessions to professional athletes he realised that he was drawn to clients who were interested in competing against themselves as opposed to others.

“There isn’t any short term fix but a lifetime of health and stability. I like to empower clients to take responsibility for their own fitness as opposed to relying on just a class”- and then eating cake for the rest of the week I think.
 
Given Stuart’s background you may be excused for presuming there would be a lot of shouting and drilling. To dispel that myth he explained the fundamental differences in training with the Army and with the Marines, with a story about his visit to a naval base early in his career.

“The squaddies were doing drills and one of the guys was lagging behind and fell down. The sergeant came over and calmly asked if that’s all he felt he could achieve right now.”

I’m sure we can all relate, a disappointed parent is more powerful than a shouting one.  

“It harboured a communal attitude of self achievement and purpose. Service was bigger than me.” he continues.

Interestingly, the Marines make up for only 4% of the armed forces but when it comes to hiring for the special forces, 40% have previously been Marines. As a statistic I’d say that’s a pretty strong indicator that they are doing something right.

Given all this, I wonder how he’s coped through Covid?

“Initially it was highly frustrating, as Boris said he was keeping pubs and gyms open but not to go to them! I closed Field Works then and within a week was comforted when it was mandated, as it meant we were all in the same boat. I quickly accepted that there was nothing I could do right now to change the situation so I focused on my family and homeschooling.”

How was that?

“I was pretty lucky but I really missed the community at Fieldworks and to be honest, talking to adults.”

Were you worried that you would lose the business?

“Absolutely but I’ve been lucky to have a landlord that understood my predicament and agreed a deal which has enabled me to reopen next month and with increased space.”

That's exciting, what’s changed?

“We’ve taken on the space behind our original studio and gained a mezzanine floor which we will use as a PT area. I really can’t wait to see everyone again and use the space, but initially we hope to make the most of the weather and do as many classes as we can outside in the park.”
 
There are some things in life we can’t control, like a pandemic, what we can control is how we deal with it and how we emerge from it. Post lockdown if you want to take control of your health and your body, I can’t recommend a better place to go than Fieldworks gym.

Fieldworks is situated at Arch 8, 274 Richmond Road, E8 3QW

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Spring Budget Property News

The headlines for the property market in the Spring Budget are the introduction of a new guarantee scheme for 95% mortgages, and the extension of the Stamp Duty reduction and the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme. To the relief of many landlords there will be no increase in Capital Gains Tax.


95% Mortgages Rebooted
 
Under a new mortgage guarantee scheme the government will provide a guarantee to UK lenders offering new 95% mortgages for all types of buyer on all residential properties up to £600,000. According to the chancellor, Lloyds, Santander, Barclays and HSBC will be offering these government-backed mortgages from April, with the scheme scheduled to run to December 2022.
Buyers using the scheme will have the option to fix their initial mortgage rate for at least five years. As the economy deteriorated during the pandemic, lenders stopped offering 95% mortgages due to possibility of default and negative equity represented by these high-risk products.

Lenders’ affordability criteria remain the main obstacle for many buyers in areas with high property prices, so it will be interesting to see whether these are relaxed. With the average London first time buyer spending £489,098, buyers with a 5% deposit need a combined income of £103,254 to secure a mortgage of £464,643 at the generally applied maximum multiple of 4.5x. A couple both earning the average London salary of £39,476 have combined income of £78,952.

Stamp Duty Relief Tapered Off

Last July the Stamp Duty threshold was raised from £125,000 to £500,000 for property sales in the UK and Northern Ireland, and instead of ending on 31st March this will remain in place until 30th June, when it will be reduced to £250,000 before returning to £125,000 from 1st October.
This is a welcome move for the property sector, as the measure boosted the number of sales in 2020 to the highest level since 2006, and there were fears of a looming cliff edge when residential transactions fell by 25% between December and January (a 13% decline when seasonally adjusted). Some experts had predicted that up to a third of sales could fall through as buyers who failed to complete by the original 31st March deadline.

Help to Buy Extended

The Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme has been extended for a third time until 31st May. Under the scheme buyers in London can purchase a new build home for up to £600,000 with a 5% deposit and a government loan of up to 40% which is interest free for 5 years. From April this year the scheme will be open to first time buyers only and capped at 1.5 times the average first time buyer property price per region.
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Light at the end of the Lockdown

The road map out of lockdown and the prosect of a return to normal by June 21st, is welcome news for the property market. Fears of a collapse in demand after the end of the stamp duty holiday on 31st March will be offset by the prospect of economic recovery which will fuel demand for both residential and commercial property.

If all goes to plan, the first easing on 8th March (when schools open) will be followed by further stages; on 29th March outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households and travel outside your local area will be allowed; on 12th April non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality can open; on 17th May indoor hospitality can open, up to 6 people can meet indoors and the ban on international travel will be removed; and all legal limits on social contact will be lifted on 21st June.

In the meantime the Spring Budget is due on 3rd March, and there is growing speculation that Rishi Sunak will announce measures to boost the property sector, including a six-week extension to the stamp duty holiday (due to end 31st March).

We can be certain that the holiday and short let sector will see a staycation boom from 12th April, and with a gradual return to work we can expect to see an increase in demand for residential lets and commercial space (including downsizing) as well as increased sales activity. Lockdown life has caused all of us to revaluate our homes and many who decided to move have yet to do so.
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Music proved the food of ‘life’ for Nelly Duff

If I was going to pick a scenic day to interview the art curator and co-founder of one of East London’s most treasured galleries, Nelly Duff, I nailed it. As we sit in one of the studio spaces, socially distanced by a red formica table, snow cascades relentlessly down on Columbia Road.

Cassius Colman does not look like your archetypal curator; there is no suit, silk scarf, or handkerchief. Immediately warm and welcoming, totally unpretentious; he is the antithesis of what we have come to expect. Am I surprised, no, after all Nelly Duff has been influencing our walls for coming up to 15 years now with original Street, Tattoo and Graphic Art.

So how did you come across Columbia Road all those years ago?

“We actually bought it blind. We were renting a flat above a shop further up the street and noticed a board had gone up, this is when Rightmove wasn’t a thing so you literally were guided by ‘signs’. We arranged to view but then the agent discovered he’d lost the keys.”

I can’t help but wince. Jokes about estate agents and keys come flooding to mind. It takes will power but I resist the urge and go on to ask, so you never saw inside?

“No, we knew the properties were all pretty similar and it’s where we wanted to be so we went for it. We really connected with the area; I believe there were more artists per capita than the whole of Europe living in the East End at that point. It had and still has a phenomenal energy.”

Originally a Director/Producer, he and his partner Jessie who worked in publishing started collecting limited additions 2 years before they set up Nelly Duff, but it was the night life in Hoxton Square that proved their greatest resource for up-and-coming talent.

“Hoxton Square had a massive music scene, in 2002 I’d spend my nights dancing to acid jazz and drum and bass mixing with street artists and creatives and by day pursuing and persuading the local (international) pioneers of this explosive new street art genre, to engage in prints.”

It’s no wonder that when the shop first opened with only 20 artworks, they sold out the same day. Cassius and Jessie had captured the zeitgeist of the time and ran with it. So how do you hold on to that status 15 years on? Nelly Duff is more popular now than ever - what has kept you relevant?

“We pride ourselves on always striving for creative excellence, we nurture and provide structure for artists enabling them to flourish. We are always on the lookout for new work that can generate that euphoric rush. There is nothing more uplifting than seeing people strolling off the street on a Sunday and discovering a piece of art that speaks to them.”

How has your business coped during lockdown?

“We were lucky as we already had an online presence, so we could focus on exhibiting new art via our socials and website. What was exciting was collaborating with our artists to increase our limited-edition releases to 2 times a week. One on Wednesday at 6pm and the other on Saturday at 11am”
 
I imagine this must feel like the alternative to a launch only without the canapes and wine but equally exciting for enthusiasts.  

So, what does 2021 hold for you?

“Depending on the Covid situation, we are hoping to start exhibiting again in late April and we are planning to refurbish the gallery space, so when people return, it will feel refreshed and hopefully add a sense of theatre and expectation to our customers. We are also working with an Italian artist, Run, who is doing various large-scale murals on a lido and leisure centre in Cambridge in conjunction with the Fitzwilliam Museum. And of course, it’s our 15th anniversary in November so we are looking forward to marking it with a big celebration.”

Let’s hope there won’t be any need for social distancing then! From talking to Cassius it’s very apparent that the reason the gallery remains relevant is because they still passionately believe in reactionary art that evokes a response. Given all that we have been through in the past year, isn’t that what we all want? Something that generates change.  

 Nelly Duff is situated on 156 Columbia Road, London, E2 7RG
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End of the Mini-Boom?

There are signs that last year’s mini-boom in the UK housing market may be over, as Nationwide Building Society announced that prices fell by 0.3% in January and annual growth slowed to 6.4% from 7.3% in December. Mortgage approvals also appear to be slowing, down 1.8% in December according to the Bank of England, but still at the second highest level since August 2007.

Momentum grew in the property market during 2020 as people reassessed their homes in the light of the pandemic, and property sales were fuelled by the stamp duty holiday announced on 8th July. With this tax break due to end on 31st March, it is increasingly unlikely that it will be extended, and buyers who haven’t yet agreed deals are realising that they are running out of time to meet the deadline.

So, whilst the first quarter of 2021 will be busy, most analysts expect this to be followed by a lull in activity and some price readjustment during the second quarter. Many have already made the decision to move and will still do so even if they missed out on the tax break. No doubt there will be some pressure on prices as buyers seek to recoup some of this discount.
How this will impact on prices for the year as a whole is unclear, as illustrated by the lack of a consensus in forecasts, which range from an increase of 4% (Rightmove) to a fall of 2%-5% (Halifax), or 8% (Office for Budget Responsibility).
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From Ice cream van to British cheese ambassador

Market research is key to any business. In Mathew Carver's case this involved a trip to the States to uncover the most popular food trucks. He quickly realised his future lay in cheese, the grilled variety. Motivated by the long queues, he borrowed an old ice cream van from a friend and headed off to his first festival. An instant success, he became a regular on the scene, specialising in grilled cheese sandwiches, promoting the best of British cheese. His popularity grew to such an extent that the he was asked to ship his Bedford van to the U.A.E to partake in some street food festivals in the region, which became an annual event for the next 3 years.

During this time, Mathews' interest in cheese grew; he wanted to learn more about British cheese and ended up visiting farms across the country. From this an idea formed, to create a British cheese focused restaurant. In a week he had raised enough capital through crowdfunding to secure a venue in Camden, The Cheese Bar, which offers everything from fondues & raclette to mozzarella sticks.

Off the back of this venture he opened Pick and Cheese in Covent Garden, a conveyor belt restaurant with over 30 different British cheeses which are paired with a selection of wines. This feels like a modern twist for a typically conservative food, “I always wanted to draw a younger demographic to cheese and by experiencing it in a contemporary setting, I hope we are encouraging a new audience.” As well as the theatre goers, who must adore it.

With his restaurants unable to trade during the Lockdown and £10,000 worth of stock sat in the fridge, he quickly adapted the business to deliver orders around London. “With the first Lockdown people were generally more carefree and panic buying so we had lots of big orders” he says wistfully “In no time our stock had gone, so we began buying again and introduced mail orders around the UK.” Just as this was taking off, the lockdown was lifted and the restaurants reopened briefly, before closing again with the second wave.

“We realised that in the absence of our restaurants we would like somewhere to showcase our cheese and wines in a more typical fromagerie and somewhat lockdown proof setting.”
So what made you look in Shoreditch?

“We always wanted somewhere in East London, there isn’t a specifically cheese focused shop in East. The culture is so explorative that we felt it was the perfect place to get people engaging in our produce.”

You’ve been on Columbia Road for a month now, how has it been?

“Fantastic, the locals have been incredibly accepting and appreciative.” Appreciative? “I think it's nice that we are open all week and so become part of the social fabric of the community.”
So what’s next for you? A pandemic doesn’t appear to have stopped you, if anything it's inspired you to grow.

“I guess it has, it’s all about adapting and not being scared of change. I’m excited, we’ll finally be opening our third restaurant which is situated on a barge in Paddington in January and I will also be judging the World and British cheese awards again next year.”

How did that come about?

“I was approached a few years back, I think they wanted to bring in new blood and eyes to the competition. I’m always blown away by the quality out there.”

In just 6 years with the aid of a humble Bedford van, Matthew will have opened three restaurants and one shop. His unexpected journey of discovery with British cheese has not only enabled a successful business but helped British Dairy farmers be recognised as pioneering cheese makers.

Mathews top Christmas Cheese - The Cheese bar has teamed up with Village Maid to create a one off cheese especially for Christmas, The Sherry Loo.

Funk - The Cheese Bar - is situated on 142 Columbia Road, Shoreditch, E2 7RG
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Coming Soon – Leasehold Reform

It’s about to become much faster and cheaper to buy a freehold or extend a lease. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick recently announced that the government is pushing ahead with widespread reform to leaseholds, including proposed legislation to ban leasehold houses, abolish ground rents and introduce commonhold tenure. Leaseholders will be able to extend their lease to 990 years with no ground rent charges, the arcane ‘marriage value’ used in the calculation of freehold purchase and lease extension will be abolished, and the government will publish an online calculator making it much easier to work out the cost.

This radical shake-up will potentially benefit the 4.5 million leaseholders in England, although in practice those in large blocks with numerous individual flats may find it difficult to get together to buy the freehold. Perhaps the proposed new ‘commonhold’ tenure, giving leaseholders joint ownership of their freehold, will address this. The government certainly expects this tenure type to become popular, and is currently setting up a Commonhold Council ‘to prepare homeowners and the market for the widespread take-up’. How this will work is unclear.

Leasehold property in England has its origins in feudalism. In the Middle Ages the Crown granted land to nobles in exchange for military service, and in turn the aristocracy leased land to serfs for a fixed period of time, whilst retaining the freehold ownership. The modern leasehold system evolved in response to rent controls which were initially introduced in 1915 to prevent wartime profiteering. These controls waxed and waned during the 20th century, before being largely abolished by deregulation in 1989. Over the same timeframe leasehold became the norm for flats, which are typically sold with a 99 or 125 year lease. Leasehold houses are a newer phenomenon, and one that has become very unpopular.
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How motherhood gave Sophie Taylor the confidence to take on The Deli Downstairs in a week

Many dream of owning their own business but rarely do. Sophie Taylor, the owner of The Deli Downstairs had no idea in 2019 that she’d shortly be running her own business and within months navigating it through a pandemic.
 
Working full time as MD of the artisan bakery, The Flour Station, as a single mum, Sophie knew that she would need greater flexibility to accommodate the school schedule with Reception looming. If there was ever a time to be her own boss, now was it. But how and where?
 
By chance she found herself talking to one of her customers, Sarah, who having set up the Deli Downstairs ten years previously with her husband Theo, was reluctantly about to close up shop, having failed to find a buyer for the business.  A local resident herself, Sophie couldn’t quite believe this ideal opportunity had suddenly presented itself. Fate seemed to be smiling on her till she realised that she had barely a week to secure the deal before they shut for good. Others may have baulked at the prospect; customers, employees and suppliers had all been told of the demise of the deli, she would not only have to secure it financially but resurrect those contacts within days. Defying all the odds she pulled it off, losing only a few members of staff who had already found employment elsewhere.
 
“It was really important to Sarah and Theo that I wanted to honour their vision and in return, I inherited a huge amount of goodwill and support both from them and their loyal customers.”
 
Four months into the business, the pandemic struck, “Obviously, I feared the worst but the locals and staff were amazing. We rearranged the shop to create space, reintroduced fresh fruit and veg and squeezed in more stock wherever we could.”
 
The beauty of independent businesses is that, unlike the big stores who have long supply chains and complicated procurement procedures, small shops can quickly adapt to customers’ requirements. Nappies and Soda Stream canisters were brought in, yes, soda stream! “I couldn’t believe it, it’s one of our best selling items!” Sophie laughs at my incredulous expression, “A customer requested it once, so I bought some in and they sold out in days. Now I can’t get enough of them! I tried to identify where there were gaps.  People were anxious and there were queues everywhere so I wanted to create a local one-stop-shop that was safe which people could rely on to get everything they needed.”
 
Constantly reactive, The Deli learnt of  shielding customers unable to get deliveries from the supermarkets so they began taking orders and delivering by bike around the area. If anyone is struggling to get out, they can visit www.thedelidownstairs.co.uk and place an order for next day delivery or collection.
 
Always nimble and attentive, as lockdown lifted she looked to Pasta Next Door, the pop-up restaurant adjacent to the Deli which had been temporarily repurposed as an overflow stock room.
“It’s near impossible to know what is going to happen one day to the next right now so I decided to make the restaurant into a more flexible space that could morph into whatever was needed in the here and now.”
 
So what do your customers need right now? “Wine! No seriously, it occurred to me that there aren’t many places where you can go without having to make a reservation for dinner.  The pubs are all full, money is tight and arranging a babysitter for a whole evening is expensive but what if you had somewhere round the corner where you could enjoy a good glass of wine, pick on some charcuterie and cheese and it be Covid safe.”
 
Whatever the future holds it is clear that Sophie will approach it with great humour, nimbleness and a positive attitude. The local community in Victoria Park have already made her Deli a staple, in no time I’m sure you will be a convert.
 
The Deli Downstairs is situated on 211 Victoria Park Rd, Hackney, London E9 7JN

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The Stamp Duty Holiday is Nearly Over

You need to act fast if you want to benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday. It takes an average of 12 weeks to complete on a property once an offer is accepted and it’s just 15 weeks to the 31st March when it ends.

The cut, which came into effect on 8th July, applies to all residential property purchases up to £500,000, offering savings of up to £15,000. This applies whether you’re buying your first home, a holiday or second home, or an investment property - the 3% surcharge for additional residential properties (over £40,000) still applies, but the potential saving of £15,000 is the same.

Rates during the Stamp Duty holiday are:

Stamp Duty                                        All                          Additional
                                                             buyers                  property  
£500,001 to £925,000                       5%                          +3%
£925,001 to £1.5m                           10%                        +3%
Over £1.5m                                        12%                        +3%

Once the holiday is over, rates will revert to previous levels, with first time buyers paying no stamp duty up to £300,000 and 5% on the portion from £300,001 to £500,000, provided the property price is up to £500,000.

From 1st April rates are expected to revert to:

Stamp Duty                                       1st time                 Additional
                                                             buyers                  property
Up to £125,000                                  zero                       +3%
£125,001 to £250,000                      2%                          +3%
£250,001 to £925,000                      5%                          +3%
£925,001 to £1.5m                           10%                        +3%
Over £1.5m                                       12%                        +3%
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How a session stylist revolutionised hairdressing in Hackney

I initially was introduced to Kennaland though a friend who raved about Sophia, the founding partner and Studio Director in Hackney. After some initial googling I learnt that Sophia had been voted ‘The Best Colourist for Blonde’s’ by Time Out, a determined blonde myself, I was intrigued and then overjoyed to discover she was on my doorstep, in London Fields.

Gowned up, I’m surrounded by screens angled away from the window which cleverly create the illusion of exclusivity. Dry flowers hang from the ceiling and dress the wash station area. The environment is tranquil but far from sleepy. Sophia, originally from South London is immediately welcoming, clearly knowledgeable but thankfully devoid of any pretentiousness. She is the friend who would break the truth to you kindly so you act on the advice rather than ignore it. It is clear, she knows what she is doing.

Kennaland was originally based above the Cat and Mutton on Broadway Market, where it was a home for session stylists to create looks for shows and photoshoots. Over time Sophia and her Co Founder, Kenna, found that they were using the space more and more for private clients. In 2012 Sophia’s first child was born and her need for consistency in her life rather than the erratic nature of the shows, made her take the leap to conventional hairdressing. The pub was being sold and Kenna moved to New York where he opened their sister salon in fashionable Greenpoint. But Sophia found another warehouse space in London Fields before settling in Monohaus on Mare Street.

“I’d never previously thought we’d end up in a modern space but I loved the industrial elements and it’s position near London Fields. I kept the polished concrete and left the ceilings exposed just adding the screens which can be moved around to suit. I also liked that there was a working community in situ full of creative industries. It seemed like an environment that was drawing inspirational people and I enjoy that vibe and interaction.”

I have to ask, Lockdown…how has it been? Sophia lets out a sigh, “I was incredibly worried to begin with and concerned for my staff but the furlough scheme and initial grant was a lifeline. I’m immensely grateful that I could keep people on which I wouldn’t have been able to if we were still freelancers. It was a very difficult decision to step away from the session work and take on the commitment of running a shop but I so happy I did now.”

Did you ever worry about your clients and how Lockdown might have changed their behaviour?

“Absolutely, I was worried, you just don’t know how society will react to something like this. What has happened is heartwarming, all our clients returned and we made new ones.” Rescuing bad self dyes?

“Some but generally clients haven’t been too bad.”  She smiles. “Sure, things have changed, the masks aren’t fun but on the plus side I’ve given up wearing makeup as no one can see my face anyway” she laughs.

What other changes have you seen? “There’s a real divide;  some people have gone more natural, embracing their textured hair whilst others have gone for the extreme, I guess desperate for a change. We do less blow drys now, as less people are going out but we sell more products. It seems people are just spending their money in a different way and spending more on looking after their hair.”

I noticed that she has been doing ‘Remote Working’ Sessions, what exactly are these?

“These have been great, you simply book to get your hair done and work at the same time. The majority of our clients were working from home but still wanted to get their hair done, this way they could justify having it done in the day and it saved them booking after work.”

So I can safely justify this appointment, I laugh.
How did it all begin for you?

“I wasn’t massively interested at school but loved science then one day, when I was 15, I got a Saturday job at a hairdressers and was hooked. I loved the mixing and discovering what colours worked with what skin tone or body shape, even your eye colour makes a difference.”

Given your story, Is there any advice you would give from someone looking to start a business?
“You will never be 100% ready, you will always have self doubt but you just gotta to get up and try.”

Kennaland is situated on 143 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 3RH
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What is Class E?

Class E for sale and to let boards are starting to appear as agents catch up with the legislation introduced on 1st September. Although this was done in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a welcome overhaul of a restrictive system which recognises the need to repurpose properties to meet changing demands.

The changes have significantly broadened and simplified the classifications. The main change is the introduction of a new comprehensive Class E, which brings together a number of previous uses. This permits a number of alternative uses which can be applied flexibly, at different times of day for example.

Class E uses are listed below (previous use class in brackets):

  • Shops - (A1)
  • Financial & Professional Services - (A2)
  • Food & Drink (mainly on premises) - (A3)
  • Business (office, R&D, light industrial) - (B1)
  • Non-resi (medical/health, creche) - D1
  • Assembly & leisure (gym, sport etc) - (D2)


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The Costumier turned Proprietor

Back truffle lies on the south end of Broadway Market, close to the canal. In 2003 proprietor Melissa Needham unintentionally found herself running her own boutique.
Originally a freelance costumier for the likes of The Royal Opera House and the ENO, Melissa trained at The Wimbledon School of Art and then Cordwainers College on Mare Street, which later was bought by the London College of Fashion. It was here that she deviated from men's tailoring and learnt how to construct and repair shoes. 
In 1997 she formed Prescott and Mackay School of Fashion and Accessory Design offering specialised part time courses. Demand grew and by 2000 she was lecturing across the United States and Australia to Google and Apple execs during their lunch hour.

In 2003, she took up an additional lease believing it to be just a studio space on Broadway Market. On discovering this included a retail space she decided to embrace this new opportunity and created Black Truffle. Just like the elusive truffle, the name was conceived to conjure up the sense of exploration and discovery when hunting for that perfect item of clothing. Here she made and sold her own garments and shoes, for which she won The Best New Shoe Store Award in 2009, and was a finalist in the Drapers Footwear Awards 2010 for – Independent Footwear Retailer of the Year. Over the following years fashion buying trends changed as consumers turned to fast fashion, so the business adapted.
 
Today, Melissa specialises in seeking out affordable yet niche and up and coming designers to reflect her clientele's creativity. Drawing on her previous career as a costumier, she creates a narrative around her perceived buyer profile to select what will appeal to her market. Colours and how they are proportioned to the body are key.

London Fields and Hackney has historically been made up of visionaries, artists, seamstresses, furniture makers, designers and opportunists. In 2020, much has changed on the surface and many complain of East London being over gentrified but the underbelly of Hackney maintains its innovative roots. The locals, now actors and musicians, rubbing shoulders with architects and bankers, families and entrepreneurs, all drawn to the borough for the same reason, the sense of possibility.

Nothing is static in Hackney, it evolves and influences. For this reason, Broadway Market is a location that offers the perfect smorgasbord of creative delights be it food, cocktails, fashion or music.

Black Truffle is situated on 4 Broadway Market, London, E8 4QJ
 


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Demand for moving home increases, as we stay away from the office and the shops

The pandemic has forced us to reassess where we live and how we work. And a lot of us have decided to move. The most recent data shows mortgage approvals at the highest level since September 2007 and house prices up 5% since September 2019. The residential market is particularly buoyant outside London in rural areas and small towns, but also within the capital, as people look for more space both inside (to work from home) and outside (prompted by the lockdown experience).

Demand has been boosted by the stamp duty holiday, and although there is some speculation that the market will cool once this ends, most analysts predict a further rise in house prices in 2021, with a consensus forming around an increase of 4%.

It’s a different story in the commercial property market however, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. A recent RICS survey showed over three quarters of respondents viewed the commercial market as being in a downturn, with demand for shops and offices the hardest hit as we have increasingly had to work and shop from home. Hotels and student housing have also seen reduced demand, whilst warehousing and industrial sites have fared better.

The office sector was already in a state of flux before the coronavirus hit in Spring this year, with the rapidly growing co-working sector replacing traditional serviced offices and individual office spaces. The pandemic has exacerbated this trend, as companies have reassessed their working practices and requirements, resulting in many downsizing or planning to do so when leases expire.
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London Buy of the Week - Shoreditch loft is the perfect fit for a connoisseur of pop art and cocktails.

Press Coverage in the Evening Standard's, Homes and Property supplement, on a arty loft we are selling from our Shoreditch branch.
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Village Life in Hackney

Today's City A.M focuses on Stoke Newington and features comment from Fyfe Mcdade's Islington branch manager Laurie Penry-Jones. 
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