The newest face on Birmingham's property scene is bullish about prospects for the city's industrial and office markets.
Gerald Eve's Chris Kershaw has just moved from the firm's London West End office to head up its Cherry Street practice.
A Gerald Eve partner for ten years since moving from St Quintin, he also heads its national agency team outside London.
Tasked with building on the success of the Birmingham office, which opened 15 years ago, he sees significant potential for new business in the Midlands.
"The region's regeneration is being stimulated by a continuous series of local developments, as well as major infrastructure projects such as the M6 Toll road," says Mr Kershaw.
"These are creating significant opportunities for both occupiers and investors, many of whom see the South-east as being overheated and more importantly as having little prospect for rental growth."
Mr Kershaw has certainly assembled a raft of impressive statistics to support his case.
"Birmingham's office market recorded rental growth of 3.4 per cent last year, which was not only ahead of inflation, but also contrasted sharply with the negative growth seen in London and the South-east."
He is confident that the trend will stay strong during the current year and into 2004, as the capital's sky-high rents continue to deter occupiers.
"At the end of 2002, a typical grade A office in central Birmingham was available for around #27.50 per sq ft. When I left the West End last month, the headline rate for similar premises was around #50 per sq ft," recalls Mr Kershaw.
"I expect Birmingham to continue to out-perform the London market for rental growth into 2005."
Despite the perceived attractions of London and the South-east, the Gerald Eve observer points out that Birmingham's office market pulled in a massive #320 million of investment during the year to the end of March.
Gerald Eve's clients already include one-third of all FT-SE 100 members, and Mr Kershaw believes that such a blue-chip base will attract increasing interest from the Midlands business community.
"We are very strong in professional services and asset management is a growth area for us. Our latest clients include Cleanaway, Brake Brothers and British Energy," he reveals.
"As companies come under pressure, businesses look to firms like us to manage their assets. That might be rationalising a portfolio or developing a property strategy for corporate clients."
The 20-strong Birmingham team has a strong presence in the area's industrial market, and Mr Kershaw is very bullish about prospects in that sector.
"It's a very similar story to the office market in that both investors and occupiers are increasingly looking outside London," he suggests.
"During 2002, industrial rent growth in Birmingham was a very healthy 3.9 per cent. Once again that is ahead of inflation, and twice the level achieved in the South-east."
Gerald Eve's research indicates that the Birmingham figure was even fractionally ahead of that recorded in London.
"Potential occupiers who don't need to be based in the capital are becoming ever-more unwilling to pay its prices, and investors focus more on their likely return than a property's location," says Mr Kershaw.
Although many West Midland companies took a battering from the high pound during 2002, Birmingham's industrial property market still attracted an impressive #80 million of investment in the year to the end of March.
Mr Kershaw is also optimistic for his new team's prospects outside the traditional sectors of retail, office and industrial properties.
"Over the last decade, our Birmingham office has established expertise in such specialist areas as schools, colleges, hospitals, restaurants and bars," he says.