Completed on this gem of a house this week, a joint venture project with an overseas investor.
Her ceilings are crumbling, there are gaping holes in her walls, and the air within smells of damp. She is worlds apart from the glitz and glamour of new-builds. But I very much prefer her over her Photoshopped counterparts. She is honest right from the beginning, when you try to open the door and find that the latch is jammed. She doesn’t try to cover up her flaws with paint and strategically positioned furniture.
Her scent is natural and refreshing unlike the overpowering perfume of marketing suites and their agents. I have always felt out of place at marketing suites: I don’t look like I have money and I ask too many uncomfortable questions. This property makes me feel at home, where I can feel overdressed in my jeans and sneakers.
Last but not least, she is a proud Victorian building – older than my grandparents – and she knows her worth. Unlike new-builds where you can secure 20 of them with just a small reservation fee, she makes you work to get her. I was sticky and sweaty and covered in spiderwebs before I finally made the call to the solicitor to proceed with exchange and completion.
But enough about the flowery side of things. We went for this opportunity because my spreadsheet said so. We managed to secure it at a great price below market value (even accounting for the fact the property was in a terrible state). There was also the opportunity to convert a relatively illiquid asset (a million and a half-pound townhouse) into flats at a lower price point that were more liquid. It is one of those rare cases of a win-win situation — we return an unloved and uninhabitable Victorian house to its former glory and back into the London housing stock, buyers get high-quality period homes, and our investor gets a good return.
Very excited about this project despite the relatively small size, and looking forward to working on more like it.