Welcome back to Women in Property Investment, your bi-weekly dose of tales, tips and tidbits from inspiring women breaking barriers in the property investment world. This time, we catch up with Kate Donneky, MRICS and director of Rhodium – a luxury property management company for London’s super-prime homes and prestigious residential developments.
Tell us a bit about your background in property investment. What interested you about property?
After my undergraduate degree I decided to do a Master’s in Real Estate. I always had an interest in property growing up, it was the first section of the newspaper I would turn to! I love architecture, too, so when thinking about a career, I felt the Master’s would provide a solid overview of the industry and different sectors.
My first job was in a corporate services firm where I sat in both the management and investment teams. From this experience, I realised I wanted to work with Central London assets and found adding value and opportunistic investment interesting.
I like numbers but have always found the practical side of working with a tangible asset fascinating, so property investment really appealed to me.
As a woman in a still largely male-dominated industry, have you found any barriers in your way when co-founding your own business or any resistance when lending your advice to investors and developers?
I didn’t realise how male-dominated the industry was until my first job as a graduate surveyor. There were hardly any female surveyors, most noticeably within the investment industry too.
However, I was a graduate over 10 years ago and I think the industry has moved on with far more of a female surveying presence now.
My experience of the commercial investment market was definitely tough as a female; the industry really was dominated by men. Breaking into it and trying to build a solid support network of associates was not easy.
Since launching Rhodium, have you seen more women working in the super-prime property market, in particular?
We launched Rhodium eight years ago and there has certainly been a positive shift with females working in real estate since then, all our client teams are mixed and balanced between male and female.
Interestingly, when Dean and I launched Rhodium in the Central London Residential Super-Prime market, in particular, I instantly noticed far more females working in this sector.
Dean is a huge advocate of hiring females and subsequently 95% of our office is female! We have female surveyors, accountants, lawyers and even facilities managers!
How do you think Brexit will affect PCL property investment moving forward?
Now we have clarity around leaving the EU, the market should gradually bounce back although potential revised stamp duty legislation will clearly not help.
Having said that, London is such a unique market, there is no other city in the world with the same global appeal, so fundamentally the true super-prime market should always be reasonably resilient. When the country voted to leave and the pound weakened, we witnessed a number of overseas buyers take the opportunity to buy at a discount.
I think risk lies where developers have taken a gamble on location and developed ‘super-prime’ in traditionally unknown areas. Over-supply in areas such as Canary Wharf and Nine Elms may struggle, whilst traditional areas such as Mayfair, Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Kensington should remain resilient.
How has the general election vote affected the super-prime market?
The clear Conservative majority has brought an element of stability to the market and, to a degree, restored faith in the super-prime market.
It’s been interesting to watch the economy as we finally leave the EU and start to understand the long-term impacts.
It does, however, appear that sales that were put on hold till the election result are now back on course to complete boosting the market, even in the short term.
With the Conservatives pledging to introduce further stamp duty tax on foreign buyers, what impact do you think this would have at the highest end of the market?
There is an element of irony to the pledge. The Conservatives wanted to get Brexit ‘done’ to allow the UK to move forward with negotiating new international trade agreements and building worldwide relationships.
However, simultaneously they have introduced further taxes for foreigners settling in the UK. An overall reform of the stamp duty legislation across the board is required to get the market genuinely active again.
This is part of an ongoing series focusing on women in property investment, with the next and final article (for now) appearing on February 28.