In the heart of Soho, just minutes from Tottenham Court Road, Paramount House’s name gives the game away.
It used to be the London headquarters of Paramount Pictures set in the heart of the old British film industry. It wasn’t just the film industry that made Soho its home.
The area was famous for other types of entertainment – risqué revue bars and assorted strip clubs sprung up in the 1930s. But in recent years, gradual gentrification of the area has all but edged out Soho’s seamier elements, installing instead media agencies as well as small film and TV post production companies.
Always a fashionable address, traditionally Soho has been cheaper than neighbouring Covent Garden, Mayfair and Bloomsbury, but with the Crossrail train line opening in 2018, and a major intersection opening in Tottenham Court Road, this could be set to change.
Paramount House was built in the 1930s and the seven storey office block is in Soho’s conservation area, so the conversion from office to flats has been done in a very sympathetic manner.
What we did
We managed every element of this project for our clients. First we found a great property before it went to market in a location we were confident was going to increase in value. We then worked with the developers to ensure the apartments were the right specification for their location and prospective tenants, with bathrooms for every bedroom and indoor terraces where possible.
Once the developer had finished building we employed an interior designer to decorate the apartment. Then we put the apartments on the market, rented them out and now manage them according to our client’s wishes.
How we did it
We met with developers who wanted to renovate offices on Wardour Street. They wanted the security of selling before the development had been built, which gave us the chance to get involved before the project was put on the market.
We had been looking for properties in Soho for some time, as we had recently done a successful project there, and were scouting for the right opportunity. We were confident this area was undervalued and ripe for investment because the areas surrounding - Soho, Mayfair and Marylebone - have always been expensive. In addition to this, the market in Covent Garden was very active at that time, and we were sure this would translate to Soho.
We knew our clients would be interested and we could sell the units off-plan so we agreed to finance the project and did the deal before the developer took the property to market.
Contracts were exchanged and the clients paid the first 1% of the purchase price. An additional 4% was paid when planning permission came through a couple of weeks later.
A quantity surveyor was appointed to monitor the build. Every six weeks he put together a detailed report including photographs which was sent to our clients.
Most developments demand a 10% deposit, but we negotiated an initial 5% deposit for our clients in January, and staggered the second payment until now.
The remaining 90% was paid on completion. The flats were then furnished within two months.
All the flats were let by this date, and they have been let almost constantly ever since. They have a 98% occupancy rate.
Our extensive contacts meant we worked with a developer who gave us first refusal at discounted rates. This enabled us to get involved before the project went to market. It also gave the developer the security of stable investment, managed by us. Developers like this relationship as it is easier for them to deal with one company of property experts, rather than ten individual investors.
These are very popular apartments to rent out. They are very attractive, beautifully decorated and in a great location. There have been virtually no voids – 98% occupancy rate.