Lesson learned from MIPIM: You can’t have everything

by on for The Lawyer

As ever, the flight home is very quiet. Gone, the heady excitement of the flight out and instead, hushed voices and plenty of caffeine.

Every year, I say I will only ever do two days. And every year I panic and book the full five, not wanting to miss out. But this year I have made a decision that I will stick to and that is the decision not to buy a pass. I’d caved at the last minute this year, not wanting to have the hassle of the door nonsense at the hotels but really, for me, the pass was an extravagance.

I’m at MIPIM for two reasons; one is to meet new people and the other is to look after existing clients. The pass allows me to go to the London stand and listen to Boris, to get into the bars of the big hotels in the daytime and to book an hotel room through Reed Midem. This year I booked a great apartment on my own, bang in the centre, spent approximately an hour at the London stand and had one lunch where I needed to show my pass.

I did walk through the main exhibition hall and saw a fair few leggy Russians and whilst there are, no doubt lots of interesting people I could find to talk to, I can do just as much networking along the Croisette and at Bar Roma. Ideally, I want more hours in the day, so I can do both. This I have learnt: you can’t have everything.

And for me, MIPIM is really about listening. Having spent much of the week with bankers, last night was my developer night and very interesting it was too.


  • At my table, when asked to guess how many residential properties over £10m had sold in Mayfair last year, my property client guessed 19. I guessed 10. According to the agent, the answer was two. And he said that there are 103 residential properties over £10m coming onto the market in the next three years. Is the market going to be saturated?
  • At an off-plan sale for an East London development, released in London and the Far East simultaneously, 70 sold offshore and 150 or thereabouts in the room, in London. Six lawyers were there till four in the morning, apparently. The London investors were said to be mostly Asian, living in London and buying for investment. Not quite sure that was quite what Boris had in mind, with his “concordat”.
  • A property fund, bidding for a property in its patch, where it knows the market backwards and had done its homework, put in a bid in the early 20s. It sold for an amount in the early 30s and there were over a dozen bids ahead of it.

That’s a story I’m hearing over and over from the resi boys, at all levels of the market. Silly money throwing itself at deals. Not good news for a lot of lawyers, because their established clients are competing on a playing field that’s very far from level and the deal strike rate is massively reduced. Hence the frenetic activity from lawyers, seeking out the money boys along the front.

And so the mood was positive and there’s lots of activity and plenty of deals, but there’s also frustration at a skewed and unbalanced market.

Foreign money, the very thing that has made home-grown developers very happy, with their flats flying off the shelves, has also made life hard for them on the buying front. A perfect storm.

You can’t have everything.