PRIVATE ESTATES, SURREY, SUSSEX, KENT
Paul Dixon, FCMI AssocRICS FNAEA FNAVA JP
I set up Private Estates at the Robert Leech group a few years back to focus on the upper end of the market, with an emphasis on personal service, something missing from some country house agents. It has been extremely successful. The portfolio is from £1m to circa £40m. The market has been reasonably resilient although stamp duty levels continue to be a problem.
I guess I think of myself as a property broker, as in some cases I work for the buyer. I have sourced many ‘off market’ houses for clients, in particular with equestrian facilities. It’s interesting that there is an increasing number of people who do not want to bare their soul by going ‘down the line’. They don’t like advertising their location, price or colour of their bedrooms on property portals. This has led to an increase in the number of ‘off market’ deals, where my very old ‘little black book’ is priceless.
I find the Guild facilities at Park Lane, Mayfair very useful and our properties are listed on Lonres. I am constantly looking at ways of taking the portfolio beyond portals such as Rightmove. You cannot advertise everywhere, but there are some very good ‘niche’ sites and I even have jingles on radio. I was on holiday when I picked up an international newspaper, which has given me a few ideas. There’s always something running through my head. I am never afraid to ask for introductory rates, so you don’t essentially need a massive budget.
On-going changes in the National Planning Policy also create further opportunities. I was recently able to advise a client in Surrey, where we were successful obtaining consent for a residential housing scheme. The local sales office in Oxted was then instructed to sell the completed houses. There is a saying, ‘There is none so blind as those who cannot see’. There really are so many things to do out there, if we look. I have a good working relationship with other agents. One will come to me as they might know of, say, an estate where I can introduce a buyer. It’s all about co-operation and in the end, the more deals that get done the better.
Tip for young agents: I sometimes wear a ‘goofy’ watch, which is a replica of one given to me by my parents. Never forget your roots!
Pictured property: Manor House, West Sussex, £7.5M
BENJAMIN STEVENS – BUSHEY
Joe Masterson, Branch Manager
Our local property market of Bushey remains very positive. Bushey continues to be a largely ‘needs-led’ market. This means factors forcing a sale (death, marriage, divorce, downsizing etc.) are the non-changeable drivers for both buyers and sellers. There is a constant flow of people who need/wish to move out there and are the key people to be working with.
For a long time, people have been attracted to the Bushey area. Families, older people looking to downsize, as well as first time buyers, can find all their needs are catered for with the range of properties on offer in this area.
It has a real ‘village feel’ to the area despite being so close to all the major road links and rail links that take you directly into London Euston station. Whilst the area has seen a lot of development over recent years, it remains very green and beautiful with plenty of open spaces. It is also in the heart of catchment areas for various high performing local schools. Crucially, once people are on the property ladder in this area, they often want to remain within Bushey, if they do choose to move again.
PRICING AND CUSTOMER CARE
Properties in the area which come on at the right price still have no issue is going under offer so our role over the last 24 months has been helping sellers understand that it is a careful eye on the pricing and care of both the seller and buyer that is needed to put deals together.
We specialise in residential sales and lettings and have significantly grown our market share over the last two years moving from being the 4th/5th place agent in Bushey in terms of volume, into a solid second place. We are rapidly gaining ground on the first-place agent. This has been achieved without reducing fees and continuing to deliver award winning customer service.
Despite some challenging conditions we are having a very strong year which I put down to our openness and honesty with buyers and sellers around the status of either their transaction or the market generally. This means that sellers are sticking with us through the thick and thin of the market.
Pictured property: Bushey Heath, £825,000
JAN FORSTER ESTATES IN NORTH EAST
Melissa Carman, Sales Director
At Jan Forster Estates, our experience is that the local market remains buoyant and that house prices are stable. As a market-leading agent we continue to gain excellent market share across all our branches, in core areas across the North East. For the year to date, our flagship Gosforth branch is the market leader for ‘new instructions’ and ‘sales agreed’ with our other branches also high performing (data sourced from Rightmove).
Despite the uncertainty around Brexit, people still desire to own their own home. We continue to attract all types of buyers which we partly attribute to the fact that property in the North East region remains affordable particularly as compared to property prices in the south. Help to Buy has also enabled more first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder which ultimately helps to drive the rest of the market. We are finding that family homes in sought-after areas are particularly popular with prices remaining strong; in fact, we have recently had several cases of properties going to best and final offers which shows that buyers are still out there searching for the right property!
SERVICE & PROFESSIONALISM
The advantage of being an independent family-run Agent with a recognised brand and a strong local presence is that we are able to tailor our marketing to suit individual requirements. We recognise that every client and every home is unique – our aim is not only to pro-actively market properties but also lifestyles; showcasing homes to maximum effect with professional photography, detailed floorplans and our innovative 360° virtual reality tours, which are proving to be very popular!
As a Guild member, we continue to invest in our business and our employees, as well as providing clients with the security of knowing they are entrusting their property to a professional Estate Agent. The property market and the industry is evolving; our aim is to remain at the forefront of these changes whilst continuing to offer our clients exceptional levels of customer service.
Pictured property: Charming 4 bedroom period end terrace family residence in Central Gosforth: £500,000