Property Focus – The Interview: Richard Hamilton

TheBusinessDesk.com speaks to Richard Hamilton partner in the property department at Manchester law firm Davis Blank Furniss.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the property sector in the North West right now?
In the commercial sector, the key challenges are still confidence and access to finance. Developers are certainly nervous about starting speculative developments without first securing flagship tenants which is a problem. Funding is the other issue despite it becoming increasingly available. However, it’s not necessarily coming from traditional sources and in my view not enough is being done to educate small and medium size developers on where to secure it.

On the residential side, the biggest hurdle is a shortage in supply even though there has been an increase in demand and high profile initiatives such as the Help to Buy Scheme. That particular issue is a nationwide problem which clearly needs to be tackled in the very near future.

If you could improve anything in the region, what would it be?
Transport: especially congestion on the roads during the rush hour periods. It’s positive to see more investment going into public transport – especially the Metrolink expansion – but improving infrastructure takes time. I also think more effort needs to be made on getting people off the roads and onto trains, buses and trams.

Looking into your crystal ball, what are your property predictions for the next six months?
Six months is quite short term for a recovering property market that has been battered so severely. However, I am expecting to see increased private sector commercial development activity and hopefully more signs of improvement in the retail and hospitality sectors will – in turn – give confidence to the property markets. Residential prices should also continue to increase in the North West as demand still outstrips supply. We hear in the press about inflated prices and potential ‘property bubbles’ but that really only applies to London and the South East.

What is the best project you’ve been involved in?

It’s by no means the largest project I have been involved in but looking back, I would say that the project that has given me the greatest satisfaction was dealing with a site acquisition, drafting the subsequent estate documentation and dealing with the sale of flats for a now longstanding developer client when I was newly qualified. It was stressful at the time (as it was all down to me to make sure that the legal documents were sound) but all the plot sales completed without any difficulty which was a great relief. I came across the development a few years later when it was part of a ground rent portfolio and the documents I had drafted had stood the test of time!

Name the person who has most inspired you and the one who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My initial reaction would be to say that there isn’t one particular person who has inspired me or had the biggest influence on me in a working sense. However, I do analyse people and their working methods and then try to pick out the good practices and avoid the bad. Hopefully that approach has served me well so far.

If your career didn’t exist, what would you do?
My dream job as a child was to be a pilot but then a nasty school nurse told me at the age of seven that I was partially colour blind so that was the end of that dream! I suppose if I wasn’t a solicitor, I would have enjoyed being involved in sport in some way; perhaps as a sport journalist.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Working in a friendly but professional environment with some very good and competent colleagues for (in the main!) pleasant clients.

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