This week, we spend time talking with Harvey about commercial real estate and how this part of the industry has evolved over the last few decades. We discuss how the modern buildings of today are a different kettle of fish altogether, requiring a completely different approach to managing them and planning for the future.
Harvey gives us advice on how to maximise your potential with commercial real estate rentals, and what to consider if you are thinking about commercial real estate investments in other major cities around the UK. In addition, he highlights the potential challenges with permitted planning and relationships with local council authorities.
As always, we love to hear your feedback and comments. Connect with us on social media or send us an email at email@example.com.
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Interviewer - Farnaz Fazaipour | Property Investment & Ownership
Unknown Speaker 0:00
London property home is super prime, where you can find informative educational and entertaining content, covering all aspects of property.
Farnaz Fazaipour 0:11
Hello, and welcome to London property, the home of super prime. I'm your host Farnaz Fazaipour. And today we're in conversation with Harvey Soning, who is an absolute expert in commercial real estate, working both in London and internationally. Welcome to the show.
Harvey Soning 0:26
Thank you. And thank you for the compliment.
Farnaz Fazaipour 0:28
First of all, tell us about yourself and how you got to here today and your experience.
Harvey Soning 0:35
77 years old about to be 78. I've been in the business commercial property business and the residential management business since I was 15. So that's about 6364 years. How did I get here? Well, this business James Andrew International was formed in 1974, where there was a huge the first big crash after the Second World War. And I decided it would be best for me to be on the agency side of the business as opposed to the development and investment side. And we've been going ever since we have very loyal clients. We're a smallish compared to the big boys agency. But we give a very personal service. And international does mean International. We've done lots of business over the last 10 years in Europe, USA, we have an office in Washington, DC, where we run our US business from we've done business in Japan, we look after Japanese clients, we look after American clients, we look after British UK clients and European clients.
Farnaz Fazaipour 1:42
And how would you say that the commercial real estate world has evolved in the decades that you've been involved.
Harvey Soning 1:50
60 years ago, buildings were buildings today buildings, a huge pieces of machinery. There's no other way to describe it. They are living living bricks, mortar concrete, but they live inside, especially with the environmental challenges that we're living in now.
Farnaz Fazaipour 2:09
And do you help both tenants seeking office space as well as landlords wanting to acquire more disposal?
Harvey Soning 2:18
Farnaz Fazaipour 2:20
And what are the nuances on each side?
Harvey Soning 2:24
if you're taking offices, it's better to have us on your side. And if you're leasing offices, it's much better to have us on your side. But I'd be serious, we like to be fair to both sides because the tenants grow and want bigger space. And if they're satisfied with the transaction you've made for them, they'll come back again. And the landlords when they have more space to let if they're satisfied with the way you treated them and the tenant were treated fairly, they'll come back again.
Farnaz Fazaipour 2:55
And are you seeing that after COVID? And, you know, the sort of shift in in the way that people do things? Are you seeing a future in commercial real estate and how it's evolving towards that? Are you seeing some kind of new businesses emerging and kind of new use for spaces?
Harvey Soning 3:15
We're seeing plenty of the old businesses, the lawyers, the accountants, the professional firms, and we are seeing new businesses as opposed to Professional Firms cropping up. Absolutely.
Farnaz Fazaipour 3:27
When you say that you you work internationally. How does that work? Is it London based clients that then require you to go abroad for them or?
Harvey Soning 3:38
We use an expression Have Gun Will Travel, where the client wants us to go we go, if we can do the job ourselves. We will Portugal, Madrid, Spain, Amsterdam recently, Washington DC, New York at the moment, but some very substantial transactions for British firms. If we can't do the job, we'll find the right advisors in that country and supervise the transaction for the client with local help.
Farnaz Fazaipour 4:12
And if you were to give us a market update, sitting here today as to what is actually going on in the commercial real estate world, what would that be?
Harvey Soning 4:24
It's called the best of the best. The best commercial investment will sell very quickly, especially with the pound today because they have a double whammy of a currency play and the best investment in the world. We have the finest li structure 10 or 15 year leases fully repairing and insuring doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. As for offices for 125 pound per square foot in the West End the offices will let very very quickly the best of the best. The building next door at 70 pound a foot which is got the latest bream. excetera stands empty. It's as simple as that the best of the best goes. And really it's always been like that.
Farnaz Fazaipour 5:09
So it's not that since since that shift in, in in the way that people work, that it's harder to to let or sell the older buildings Absolutely it's absolutely always been the case to get
Harvey Soning 5:24
the best staff they will only work in the environmental environment that is good for their health and their well being.
Farnaz Fazaipour 5:35
That's very key in the decision making process for for both landlords and tenants, I guess. So, what do you think's happened in a commercial sense, as in the number side of the business in the past five years. In commercial real estate, the values?
Harvey Soning 5:55
Again, the best of the best, the values have remained steady. Call it the best in the city circa 4%. The West End of London, three, three and a half percent. The major cities Liverpool Birmingham, guys go for four and a half 5%.
Farnaz Fazaipour 6:16
And has there been more of a shift from focusing in London over the last decade from going to other major cities and transport links?
Harvey Soning 6:26
About the same about the same because there's a lack of the best buildings. When a really good building comes up. There is a rush whether it be London, as I said before Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester.
Farnaz Fazaipour 6:43
You don't see that there's going to be a substantial shift from I mean, I don't know enough to comment about permitted developments. But do you think there's going to be a shift in planning rights where people might be allowed to convert commercial buildings into residential in certain areas? How does? What does it mean when when people talk about permitted development?
Harvey Soning 7:09
I think it's an absolute necessity. Because the 2025 year old office buildings are not fit for purpose, and in some cases, probably too expensive to convert them to today's offices. But it may be easier to convert to residential which there is a tremendous demand for
Farnaz Fazaipour 7:28
and are you seeing that counsellors are becoming a lot more amenable to this?
Harvey Soning 7:34
Some Yes, some No? SAP? Yes.
Farnaz Fazaipour 7:38
Excellent. Well, thank you very much for taking time to talk to us.
Harvey Soning 7:41
My pleasure, I wish you the best with your podcast.
Farnaz Fazaipour 7:44
Thank you. And obviously, our listeners know where to find you. Please head over to our experts directory where you can find a professional handpicked for you that you can engage with directly and ask your questions and get help.
Unknown Speaker 7:57
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai