Sebastian is a Director of Evolve Estates, a London based property development and investment company which currently holds a portfolio of over £150m. A close relationship to Sheet Anchor Properties and carefully considered investments across all types of property have led to 110% growth in the last 12 months. We caught up with Seb to understand more about their strategy and plans for the future.
How did you get into the property industry?
Aged 19, I started working as an asset manager for London and Cambridge properties. My two business partners were also working in property and in 2008, we got together and founded Evolve Estates.
Describe your typical working week
As one of the Directors, I have a pretty broad reaching role and work on development, investment and regeneration throughout our business.
What areas of the UK do you focus on for developments/investments?
Most of our focus currently is London and the South East. There is of course a lot more competition in these areas and for us it is all about arbitrage; the difference between cost of money and yield. We will buy a lower yielding asset subject to their being value add opportunity to increase the yield over an 18 month period. We are not adverse to projects further North and there are numerous opportunities outside of London that we are looking for, but we see the most opportunity in London suburbs.
What type of investments are you looking for?
Around 70% of our investments are retail, 10% office, 5% residential and 5% industrial. We have acquired £45m worth of property in the last 12 months and currently have £150m worth of property in our portfolio.
What advice would you pass on to anyone interested in becoming a property developer?
I would advise anyone interested a career in property development, or potentially looking handle their own investments and developments, to cut their teeth with one of the major city firms (Savills etc.). Even some of the more niche companies can offer a really good learning experience, so long as they are high quality with the right team around them. This offers the best training and experience and will pay off in dividends when you are running your own projects!
How confident are you that we will see the same amount of growth repeated over the coming years?
I am fairly worried about top end residential as a specific investment. This sector has seen phenomenal growth over the last 5 years and now with so many major uncertainties from the Chinese market, Russia and Brazil, we find it quite concerning. We have invested a lot recently and you can see where our confidence lies through the split of investments – majority in retail!
How do you unwind after a hard week of work?
Usually we all go for a beer and talk about what we have achieved over the week and what we have got coming up for the next!
A big thank you to Seb for his great insight, experience and interesting answers!