My Real Estate Story: Ilva Pamovska

My Real Estate Story: Ilva Pamovska

Meet Ilva Pamovska the Director at Prime Property Care. Ilva shares her story of resilience and a decision to do things differently, to eventually starting her own Property Management firm. We spoke of how the pandemic impacted how tenant demand has changed. Here is her story: 

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

My Real Estate Story: Josh Tenenblat

My Real Estate Story: Josh Tenenblat

Meet Josh Tenenblat, the Director at JT Homes. Based in North West London, and spending over a decade in the area, Josh’s knowledge of the area is second to none. We spoke of the importance of customer service and of how virtual viewings may not necessarily be the way to go. Here is his story: 

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

My Real Estate Story: Luis

Meet Luis Guimaraes, a self-employed agent currently with Nestseekers. With a passion for property, Luis officially turned his passion into a career, last year, surprisingly during the pandemic. Experimenting with social media and taking advantage of Zoom, Luis took this time to try out different things to see what would work for his business. Here is his story:

 

Can you just start off with telling me a little bit about how and why you got into real estate?

Well, I got into real estate because, to be honest, it was something that I always wanted to do since I was young. I don’t know why, but I was never really was keen to join the High Street agents. I could never identify with the people in the high street. So for me, I had to be my own boss.

So that was the reason why over the years I approached companies like Remax but I never really joined them. I approached them because I had an interest. But they always told me, oh, if you want to do this job, you have to do it full time. Because I was in finance and working, I could not dedicate all my time to the industry and that is why it took time for me to finally take the plunge.

That was how I got into the industry. It actually is quite recent, to be honest. I just love real estate in general. This is a business where you need to deal with people. It is all about people. There’s nothing else. And I love providing a good service. At the end of the day, it is also the sort of business where you can actually live a life.

 

Yeah, you can have that work life balance.

There’s no limit to how much you can earn. So for me, it’s a very, very good feeling because I never liked the 9-5, which was what I had done all my life. I tried many things, but not real estate, because getting started in real estate is actually really hard. And for me, I actually started during the first lockdown, so with COVID it was especially difficult to get started.

 

Ok, so you joined Nestseekers March of last year?

Well, Nestseekers I joined in September, I initially started with Keller Williams.

 

That’s a very interesting time for you to join.

Yeah, it gave me time to experiment and to develop a YouTube page. I’ve done a few videos, I created Coffee with Luis, did a couple of Facebook Lives where I interview people every week. As difficult as the time was, it allowed me to try out different things to see what works.

 

So you talked about getting onto YouTube and Instagram, but can you talk about your experience working during the pandemic?

Well, as I said at the beginning, this was my first experience in the industry. I was distributing some leaflets, but that was it. I didn’t really try to speak to people unless it was on the phone with some friends. And that’s how it started. I let them know what I was doing and everything.

In the beginning, there was a lot online. I developed my website. I tried to create a newsletter database as well. But the beginning was a bit tricky because it doesn’t matter what you do, you can do social media, you can do newsletters, you can do things but there’s just one secret for this business to be successful, and that is to talk to people. Even with all this new technology.

This is all about people trusting you and referring you, and that takes time to build. The beginning was a bit hard.

 

What is one thing that you feel like has changed within the market because of the pandemic that won’t come back?

I think that the virtual viewings have the potential to stay, because I think they are very convenient. People can straight away see the properties, and if there’s a real interest, they can go and see the house. But for me, I find that it will save time for everyone. The ones that are really interested in actually buying are the ones viewing. I’d rather go and take two or three potential customers to a house than take 10 or 20.

And to be honest, I think even online, things like Instagram, TikTok, are becoming a really big part of the industry. Initially, it was just for the kids now it is becoming a major tool for every single business, I think it is becoming more and more relevant. It’s almost essential for my customers to confirm and see who I am and to establish my presence there.

 

Have you used TikTok?

My son said, don’t even think about it because it’s just a lot of dances and moves. But you know what? I used to be a Zumba instructor, so I should be OK.

Yeah. Yeah. But yeah, I think the industry is definitely going to see virtual viewings stay, that’s my point of view, because it’s convenient for everyone just like the zoom calls have been. I mean, why do you want to go back to the office if you can communicate so easily. I have met so many people through zoom which without the lockdown would have taken so much longer to happen.

 

Do you have any predictions for the market in 2021?

It is a tough call because, of course, this is just a prediction. it’s funny because I was reading the Financial Times yesterday and they talk about predictions and all the specialists only guessed 4 out of 22 in last year. So predictions are predictions.

To be honest, if you asked me a few months ago, I’d say that probably the market is going to collapse when the furlough finished. But really, I’m not so sure about that anymore. From my point of view, just because I know you’re going to have a lot of unemployment, but it really depends how fast the vaccine and the confidence comes back, because I think the markets are really holding on. And if there’s no major surprises on the negative side from a vaccine, I think the market probably will start going up. This is a quite tricky question. Especially because I cover Kensington and Chelsea.

But I don’t think we’re going to see a massive collapse of the market as I’m seeing it.

 

In Kensington and Chelsea and you said the market is improving. Is there any specific trend that you’ve seen?

Initially, the area suffered a lot with Brexit and now without a doubt because of COVID. My target was usually people that work in the city or students from China, they can afford a certain level, a certain price. And the city now is empty.

You know, I think England’s going to suffer a bit for a few years because of Brexit, especially the financial sector. But I believe that they will turn things around. So I think that’s when things possibly will start improving again in this specific borough. The houses that have gone down 20 percent in the last five years, I don’t think they are going a lot lower unless there is a total surprise with the vaccine not working.

But it’s going to take a bit of time for things to go back to normal. I think we in general, need to adapt to this virus because even with the vaccine, we’re going to have this virus for many, many years and we need to learn to live with it and adapt accordingly.

 

What is one thing you believe agents or agencies need to change in order to be able to continue growing in this new market?

Well, it’s not really anything new, I think it’s about the reputation in the industry and that’s where people like me who are self-employed, I think are good for the industry because we are people who are really keen to do our best to actually help the customers and to do whatever it takes.

If you connect with the right people, you have a higher chance to secure instructions. Also engaging in lead regeneration, obviously. Above all you have to have phenomenal customer service. And you need to be doing lead generation on a regular basis, even when you are full of customers, you need to continuously dedicate part of your day to find some new leads from new business all the time. And you should provide an amazing service. That’s all you need to have. This business doesn’t matter if you’ve got one more app or some other software to help you.

There’s a lot of rejection in this industry you know, you have to be persistent, you have to have a lot of good qualities in terms of personality. You have to be honest and have Integrity, I think is essential for any citizens, any part of the world to be successful. Good communication skills.

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

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My Real Estate Story: Daniel

Meet Daniel Treasure, a property professional who started his real estate career in 2002 and progressed from Negotiator to an Estate Agency owner. He has witnessed first-hand the exponential growth of Canary Wharf and then subsequently navigated his business through the credit crunch, Brexit, numerous legislative changes and eventual all share sale to a larger competitor. Daniel is now about to begin his second start up agency from his hometown of Bromley in South East London. Here is his story:

 

Can you start off by telling me how and why you got into real estate?

When I moved to Limehouse in 2002 I instantly fell in love with the area.  It has a lot of fascinating history, older warehouse properties and more character than the newer shiny surrounding areas; it is very much akin to Wapping. I noticed straightaway a lot of investment and change occurring all around East London and within the Canary Wharf area which offered a lot of potential opportunity.

I rented a flat on Narrow Street at the centre of Limehouse. The whole experience of being taken on multiple estate agent viewings to different developments along with the ‘buzz’ of East London peaked my interest in the industry. Before this, I never really considered property as a career, but the idea of dealing with property for sale and rent in a busy market like E14 and in particular Limehouse was very exciting. An opportunity that wasn’t office bound and was more focussed on dealing with clients face to face very much interested me. In addition to this, I was attracted to being able to view properties with differing architecture and buildings with history. So, I thought I would take the plunge. I started as a Negotiator in a Limehouse independent and after a couple of years, in 2006, decided to start my own estate agency, Lourdes Estate Agents.

At that time the area was very up and coming with vast amounts of investment pouring in with strong demand from owner occupiers and investors alike. The market was growing and there was a lot of international interest particularly from the Far East.  Buy-to-let was extremely popular which satisfied the ever-growing tenant demand, and it was a very exciting period of time to be an agent.

 

Tell us about Lourdes Estate Agents

The agency was based in Limehouse and we started trading in 2006 and for a start-up we were instantly busy. There was not a lot of choice of software or property portals for the estate agency space. There were a few different software offerings, but nothing like it is now.  I recall we started trading using FindaProperty as our CRM along with Propertyfinder and Fish4Homes as our chosen property portals. Zoopla didn’t start until 2008 and Rightmove was relatively new in 2006/2007 and no way near the dominant juggernaut it has become today. 

It was such a busy period and our record time from listing to under offer was 30 minutes. I distinctly remember the buyer rushing to our office in a taxi from work in his lunch hour to view the property as soon as we had phoned him.  We were achieving amazing things and it wasn’t unheard of for letting negotiators to agree 30 lets in a month.  2006 and 2007 were phenomenal years for us and we had recouped much of our start-up costs within 6 months.  Then the credit crunch of 2008 came along and I had to quickly adjust the business in line with what was going on in the industry and wider economy.  We managed to keep afloat and effectively trod water for 3 years focussing mainly on rentals.  It was evident that the rental market had risen by 10%+ whilst the sales market had dropped by a similar amount.

The market noticeably recovered by 2012 and we decided to expand so we opened up an additional office in Whitechapel which would enable us to benefit from the new Crossrail station and facilitate us easily covering from the City to Silvertown.

After 10 years of trading we had racked up 19 industry awards, had 15 members of staff and were looking after in excess of 450 rental properties and had agreed the sale of £200+ million worth of property.

The shock announcement of Brexit in 2016 triggered me into reviewing all of our processes, suppliers, IT and software to ensure we were streamlined as much as possible and braced for any market variables. There was a period of transition whereby the entire company transferred to cloud computing and after a few months, we were totally paper free and no longer used printers or franking machines.  I wanted to be a more technology focused Estate Agency and become as efficient as possible with the aim being that we could effectively carry out our roles remotely or hot desk between offices if need be. Now in 2021, it is clear to see that the pandemic has proved that any agency which is not embracing PropTech and cloud-based computing will inevitably find themselves at a distinct disadvantage to more tech enabled competitors.

Over 12 years we traded successfully through the good times and also the bad. By 2018 the business was in good shape and the time was right to sell the company.

 

What have you been doing since selling the business?

I stayed with Lourdes for 3 months to oversee the smooth handover of the business as agreed with the new owners.  After that, I was keen to take a break to spend time with the family and unwind before reviewing what I wished to do next. Regardless, I knew I wanted to do something property related because that is my background, experience and passion. I put together a start-up property development company in 2019 based in my home town of Bromley called SDK along with two partners.  I have also created a buying fund for acquisition and management of rental properties. Whilst these new ventures are exciting, I realised that I missed estate agency, and wanted to find a way to combine it alongside these new businesses.

Since the pandemic hit in March 2020, it’s fair to say the estate agency industry has certainly changed.  The property market was initially shaky and following the Government’s intervention has since recovered very well, proving its resilience. From the side-lines witnessing the age of social distancing I’ve seen estate agency develop at a fast pace with remote working, videography, virtual tours, 360-degree tours and social media becoming more and more important.  Personal brand self-employed estate agency has made headway and proving that the customer can prefer this personal offering to the more established high street brands.

Following this period of reviewing and assessing from the side lines, I’m really excited to now be setting up a new estate agency under the umbrella of eXp who will supply me with market leading software, systems and technology. This will enable me to provide clients with a very personal, bespoke and exceptional estate agency offering. One of the problems within the typical estate agency set up is the fact that there are too many people involved in the buying process: valuer, negotiator, manager, progressor, post completion advisor and then the ‘brand’ for any future advice, enquiries or transactions. Many people do not use the original agent again, possibly due to poor service and lack of accountability.  The whole process can be disjointed, impersonal and in my experience customers prefer to deal with one person throughout the whole buying and selling process. I will bring my many years of experience and knowledge to each client, as well as being the sole and committed point of contact.

 

What is your prediction for the market for 2021?

It’s very difficult to generalise about what will come next as it is never an exact science, especially with so many variables at the moment.  For example, London and the Home Counties have many micro markets, each with their own pros and cons. What is happening in the suburbs is also very different to what’s happening in Central London.  There are apparently around 630,000 properties under offer that are yet to exchange and the predicament of these transactions will certainly have an impact on the property market. Will the chancellor approve the stamp duty holiday extension is another big question? My best guess is that prices will generally level off through the year.

 

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

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My Real Estate Story: Jaffar Saraj

My Real Estate Story: Jaffar Saraj

Meet Jaffar Saraj, the founder of The Collaborative London. Jaffar started off as a solicitor in 2007. With a family background in property, the transition from a career in law to property was an easy one. We spoke of how businesses had to change due to the pandemic and the market as a whole. Here is his story: 

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

My Real Estate Story: Alex Sherrick

My Real Estate Story: Alex Sherrick

Meet Alex Sherrick, a young property professional looking to help first time buyers navigate the difficulties of home ownership. Starting with a developer straight out of high school, Alex learnt the trade and developed his approach with customers. He began The Home First in October and it has been a whirlwind of a start. Here is his story: 

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

My Real Estate Story: Glenn

Meet Glenn, the Director at Douglas Pryce. We spoke of his experience, journey and his unfortunate redundancy during the pandemic, which ultimately led him to starting his own agency, Douglas Pryce. With a plan to change the narrative around estate agents, by focusing on providing exceptional service to his clients. Here is his story:

Can you start off by telling me about how and why you got into real estate?

 

Like most young people, I came out of school and went straight to college but didn’t really study like I should have. At that time, I hoped that music would be a career, but that didn’t work out too well. I then got into the building trade but again, I wasn’t really suited to it at all.

 

At that time, I had a friend who owned an agency in Canary Wharf, an independent, but a pretty large independent and he approached me and asked me to give it a shot. I gave it a try and to be fair, I really hit the ground running. I did really well and worked my way up. I started in sales and obviously started as a trainee, but then worked my way up to become the sales and lettings manager for the entire branch.

 

Unfortunately, on the first day of lockdown, things changed. I had negotiated myself to a level where I was on a great package, but I was now self-employed and unfortunately being self-employed meant that I was pretty easy to get rid of. Because of the uncertainty of where the market was going and as I couldn’t be furloughed, I like many in the industry at that time, lost my job.

 

I was back to that point of not really knowing what to do with myself, I knew I was good at the job and my thought was that I was going to work for another company. I applied for a couple of jobs close to where I live but I was a bit unsure of where to go, to be honest. I have always known that the East London market was where I needed to stay because it’s the market I know best.

 

Ultimately, I had a friend who had a small company which operates in Canary Wharf and so I decided to join him and help out with what he was doing. I worked with him for a while when we did quite well but from a business perspective as we were both on slightly different wavelengths. So after about six weeks or so, we decided that it was probably better for our friendship if we went our separate ways.

 

That time however helped me to realise that doing it by myself wasn’t unachievable. I thought to myself… what do I have to lose? I had a small amount of start-up capital to get myself setup, including branding and portal costs.  This was all around August/September time.

 

Since then, things have been going really well, I’m managing about 15 properties to let and have about sales 3-4 flats that are under offer. I have found the sales market to be fairly challenging at the moment. I’ve had a couple of sales under offer for a while now, but things are just so slow with solicitors and things at the moment, which seems to be slowing the sales process down quite significantly.

 

Sorry to just go back in the story here, from a marketing perspective it was a sort of a standing start. I just knew I had to get a bit more creative, maybe think in different ways for different people to make things all a bit more client focused. I do feel I have done that though and I have come up with a marketing strategy which so far, seems to be really effective for me and my business.

 

Among other things I’ve always tried to remain true to the customer, I’ve seen independents that have grown larger and seen their ethos change. They go from having the best of intentions for the client to being another cog in the system. And it isn’t necessarily their fault either, they’re overworked and at that point and therefore the customer service struggles, so I completely get it! That’s why with my company I’ve tried to make sure that every landlord is, on friendly terms, they have a direct line to my personal phone/email. But fundamentally and most importantly, I am trying to change the narrative around estate agents.

 

Unfortunately, it is a bit negative.

 

When someone asks me what I do, there’s an element of shame attached to it when I say I’m an agent, you know, and that should not be the case. It shouldn’t be only the bad ones that have built the reputation that estate agents carry with them. My plan is to sort of break down that that barrier and change the narrative. Especially for my clients.

 

I think what the customer wants is changing as well. Which helps.

 

From a selfish perspective, I want everyone to like me. I’m a very amiable person. You know, I thrive off of good sentiment and good feeling. I also am very enthusiastic, very motivated and fundamentally I feel as if I am very good at job I do. I have every confidence that I can be as friendly as possible to my clients whilst I also I do a really good job for them. I thank that’s a nice balance to strike. I am confident in myself too, I have no problem going up against some of the ‘bigger agents’ in the area and I have a track record speaks for itself. At my last company, I broke every sales record they ever held so I know I can do the job with my eyes closed. I’m trying to learn on some my friends and contacts in the industry for some of the other parts of the job that I don’t quite know so well; like the accounting, the admin in the office and all of that sort of stuff. But the meat and bones of the job I know I’m very good! On top of that I am just trying to deliver a service that I would personally want myself. For many other agencies, you’re almost faceless to your clients but we are dealing with most people’s biggest asset and it is a lot of money that they’re spending with us. In the grand scheme of things, I guess I am just a small fish in a big pond but particularly for those that come on board with Douglas Pryce, I am just trying to change things. I have no doubts that as we grow as business, which I am confident we will, I plan on remaining heavily involved throughout which isn’t always the case with your estate agent. You’ll deal with one negotiator and then the next minute they’re gone and your assigned someone else. I want my clients to know that I am here for them, always!

 

How was it starting a business in the pandemic then?

 

To be fair it was probably less risky for me because I was forced to make a decision because I lost my job. I wasn’t sacrificing a good wage because the moment I left, that ‘good wage’ was no more. The time off was really good though; it gave me time to reflect. Importantly it also allowed me to make the right decision Interestingly when I did re-enter the market, we were sort of right in the middle of the pandemic and I mean, it is difficult to dress it up any other way, but the market (particularly the rental market) has dropped. Certainly in the Docklands at least, it seems as if there has been a shift, and people are thinking, why do I still live here? Canary Wharf still carries that ‘soulless at the weekend sort of vibe’, which I strongly disagree with. The number of bars, restaurants, shopping facilities etc in the area has risen year on year since I have worked here but I with the pandemic, most of that has been forced to shut.

 

Ultimately though longer term I think that in this area there are your bigger, more corporate agencies and then lots of smaller ones, that don’t necessarily have quite carry the impetus that some of those larger agencies have. I’m just trying to sort of be somewhere in the middle with the drive of a corporate but the personability of a smaller independent, I think there is a real gap in the market for that.

 

I think customers tend to go to the larger outfits because they believe they’re going to get better service?

 

I think they do too but honestly that is such a myth and something that the marketing teams of larger corporates have done really well to make the consumer believe. They give you that feeling like, we get the best rent, the best tenants etc so why would you want to market with anyone else? It’s clever but fundamentally it is all a bit of a marketing ploy. For what it is worth, I certainly favour an independent, I may be a bit bias, but I like the personal touch that comes with it. Generally, you can speak to whomever is in charge pretty easily and when you’re a business owner, you can be a lot more autonomous and fairer with how we treat people. It’s not as regimented or rigid and there is room for flexibility and to cater for people’s needs and requirements. It goes both ways too because if I have a landlord that doesn’t fit my ethos and doesn’t value what the agents does for them then I just won’t deal with them, and I have that choice now which is a nice place to be. I am proud to say that pretty much every client I now have on my books I can consider myself on very friendly terms with and that is a great feeling.

 

What is the one thing that you’ve changed for the New Year?

 

I don’t think there’s anything that I’ve actively looked to change in the new year to be honest. If we are talking goals for 2021 then my goal is just to help this grow and blossom into what I know it can and will become. It wasn’t of my choosing but I think that realistically my change probably happened midway through last year as opposed to now. I made a decision to go alone and to also make this a customer focused, friendly business. It almost feels cliche or a bit ‘cheesy’ to be saying this but I genuinely do feel that the customer is the most element of this business. I have around 15 managed flats at the moment. If they turned around and didn’t like me for whatever reason, then of course I have no business, so from that perspective, my change happened when I was forced to change and furthermore when I saw room for change in what looks to be an aging industry. It needs to move with the times!

 

And the last question is about your predictions for 2021.

 

I would certainly hope that once we come out of this is that we will see rents go back to the level that landlords are used to. At the moment there is a lot of having to tell people that their property isn’t worth as much as they’re used to, which is not something that people want to hear, but not something I also do not want to be saying to people I value so highly. So yes, I would hope that they go back up to a level that landlords are going to be happy with as a happy landlord is generally a happy business. I guess that only comes with mass vaccination though, so hopefully that happens sooner rather than later. The pandemic is one of those times that, you are going to look at back on and tell your grandchildren and be like; ”oh we managed to get through that”. If we can get through that, then I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine with the rest of whatever the world can throw at us.

 

From that perspective as well as much I hope that rents go back to normal. I think there’s going to be a shift in how and where people work. Ultimately some areas are going to see increased demand and some, like Canary Wharf and the Docklands, where rents have always historically been always fairly high may find prospective tenants people moving out for now. I am of the firm belief though that the London market is ‘bulletproof’. I can say with every confidence it can and will recover as it always has done in the past. I love London as many of us do and it will always be one of the most desirable places in the World to live so we are very lucky to call London our home!

 

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

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My Real Estate Story: Chris

Meet Chris Sanderson, the lettings manager at Hamways. With an impressive 11 years in the industry Chris has focused on providing value to all of his clients through the simple art of listening. Now joining an asset management firm, Chris aims to inspire his team to create meaningful relationships with their customers in order to provide a valuable service. The goal being to constantly helping people through their journey of buying or renting a home.

Here’s his story.

 

How and why did you get into real estate?

I got into real estate through my mother. She’s an entrepreneur and has her own lettings business. I was 18 at the time and I tried being a tradesman because most of my dad’s side are tradesmen in the property side, but that didn’t work out for me. At which point, my mom said, come and sit in the office with me. She knew I was good with people, confident and sociable and it really just took off from there. So I started working for her company and then I really wanted to push on.

I wanted to not work for my mother anymore, at that age you know how it is. My friends would make fun of me and say you only got a job because your mom’s there. So I had to prove the haters wrong.

I then went for a corporate company called Sequence. A national company and got most of my training there, I was 19 and I worked there for a couple of years and really got a taste for the market. I got used to the targets but more than that the need to help people. Even at a young age at 19, I realize the more people I help, the better I am at my job. I would get a lot of referrals and I developed a name at a young age because I used to listen and help.

11 – 12 years on I’m still in property but a bit different at the moment for Hamways. It’s still the same though, helping applicants and being able to match their requirements continues to be the biggest motivator. And it’s just addictive.

 

The current company that you’re in is a private property management?

I’m working for a company called Hamways Limited now, and we work closely with a property portfolio firm at the moment to manage their portfolio. We look after their property from start to finish, we would market the properties, get the tenants in and set up and all the way to when they check-out.

We work with high street agents to help us find the tenants, but we would really like to find our own tenants to be able to provide an end-to-end service. I’ve been here five months now and before that I was working for Felicity J. Lord and I was there for a good amount of time. I really enjoyed working there. Purely because of common ground I had with the clients, tenants and the landlords. I got along with people, was able to advise them and help them.

So I’ve been fortunate every company I work for, I’ve never had had a bad experience, really. At Hamways, it’s different because we aren’t an estate agency and my team and I manage a much larger area with a lot of property.

We’re trying to stand out from the high street by again, listening more, asking more questions and helping tenants from start to finish. We’re doing pretty well at that as well.

 

How do you think that things have changed during the pandemic?

During first lockdown, I wasn’t put on furlough, I was asked to stay in the office and look after area and it was a massive area. This allowed me to get a quick understanding of the psychology of what people wanted. It was two things 1) Either something cheaper than what they were living so value in the move there or 2) if it was better than what they’re currently in and they didn’t have a chance to get a foot in the door because before March, everything was going by open house and it was so competitive to find something decent. So the virus slowed down the appetite of people coming into London, giving a tenant more of an opportunity to find the right thing because there wasn’t so much of a crowd to compete against.

The good stuff still got the same price, if not more. I’ve seen in the papers it kept saying and rents are down by 10 percent. But it was only on the properties, I feel, that no one really wanted anyways. Those properties were only let previously because of how supply and demand is that way. I think that probably because out of desperation rather than value or something they like.

If something hadn’t let within two weeks then a significant price drop was required and that was between a 5 to 10 percent range. But the thing about London market is that it is such a big market and each area has a different market climate. So I’m purely speaking about my area.

 

During this pandemic, did you find that you had to change the way you did business to accommodate to the changes? And if so, what were those changes that you had to make?

Yeah, definitely. I think if an agent didn’t adapt or change and they would have no work. The way I had to change was about asking the right questions to find out what the tenant. You couldn’t do viewings between between March and June, so you had to give  a lot of time to an applicant.

You needed the floorplans, the virtual tours and everything. You needed to have the right content and credible content. Having good online reviews also helped because people had to trust you and trust that the property was good without actually seeing it beforehand. I had clients coming for overseas and they had to come so they had to just trust us and trust that the property was up to their expectations.

The trust was developed by spending more time on the phone and being genuine, by just talking to them and building that relationship. So it took a bit longer, but it helped our clients.

It narrowed the audience in a way where you’re dealing with people that were serious. It was good and you feel good when you nailed the requirements and the tenant moves in, they happen to send you an email and it all feels worth it. You’ve done something, and that always feels good.

 

What is the one thing that you believe agents need to change in order to be successful?

It might be an old cliche, but they need to listen more. Just listen more to the applicants. They don’t listen. And it’s a shame. But that’s been going for years. To be honest with you, I’ve been training my team now and it’s just about applicant management, applicant registration, and just helping more people. The more people you try to help, the more you learn and the more you win.

In terms of marketing, we are very good at marketing. I’m passionate about that. It was always really important how a property looked, it needs to be up to a specific standard.

Personally, I wanted to try and help my team learn more because the more they develop, the easier it will be for me. It seems simple. Listen more Care More. This job could be the most difficult job or the easiest job, it’s all about how you go about it.

 

What do you think is going to change in the market this year? Do you have any predictions for England?

The amount of people looking online has increased by a lot during this pandemic and that is only going to increase even further. I think there are so many people at the moment that are on the side lines. Do I buy now, do I sell now? I think Internet traffic is going to get busier and busier. So I think the importance of marketing is stronger than ever, because the customer is on it all day. They’re addicted.

So I think from an agent point of view, online presence is essential. But even more important, is your brand. A strong brand is just as important as closing more deals. The more people that are online, the more time you need to put online. If you build a good digital brand, people will remember you and use your services.

Will rents go up? I think, again, certain areas rents will go up. I think when the vaccine rolled out properly and people have more confidence then mobility to London will return. I’ve seen a few people now look to move now into London because they’re predicting rents will go up in six months. So there’s been an increase of people looking to move in the last week or so.

I don’t think many people are investing. I think people are moving and people are moving for family reasons to be living in that place that they will live in for the next 5 to 10 years. So is a good time to invest now? Probably not. But if you’re looking to move for a school or for long-term, then yes.

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

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My Real Estate Story: Sushel

This week I spoke to Sushel Miah, the Director at JS estate agents. He’s been in the industry for 10 years and started off as a junior negotiator and swiftly moving his way up to managing director of JS estate agents. With a passion for football and real estate, we spoke about his journey in the industry and his successes at JS estate agents. Here is his story:

Can you start by telling me a little bit about why and how you got into real estate?

At a young age I dropped out of college and I tried to get into the banking industry and did that for about a year. That was when I was 17. And I didn’t really like it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and was very confused because I had a lot of ambition and dreams.

I think everyone at that time wanted to be a footballer, I used to love football. I was really good. I wanted to have a breakthrough, but it didn’t quite work out like that.

I then got involved in my family businesses. They used to have restaurants and things like that and I moved around a bit, just to find something that would make me happy. It was when I was about 20 years old that my sister introduced me to the property market. She was working for a service firm with just two properties. My brother had a lot of properties for himself, so property is something that has always been around, I just hadn’t paid enough attention to it.

I started by asking my sister, how the property market was? And she thought I would be really good at it. I spoke to my brother and asked him to introduce me to someone. My brother’s family friend was an owner of an estate agency and he invited me for a chat, this office which was in Hackney. He let me down unfortunately because for him he didn’t have the time to train me.

I don’t take rejection very well. Something moved in me and I was very motivated to go and get a job. But I was twenty years old with no experience. So one day I put on a suit and tie, I printed out my CV and set out.  I dropped my resume and introduced myself to agencies within a 2 mile radius from my house, as many as I could, I dropped by at at least 30 agencies. Fortunately for me, there was this agency who called later in the day and wanted to talk. He was a one-man band and had just started up. He was very upfront and told me, I can’t afford to pay but I can teach you. And I went with it because I wanted to prove that I could do it, and at this point I just needed to learn.

That’s where I learnt the basics and after a couple of months, I wanted to go further so I started searching again and I had an interview with a company called Home Finders.  

So I went for an interview there, I told them, listen, I’m new but I know the basics and I’m willing to work hard. Fortunately for me, he gave me the job and that is where my career started.

I got much more exposure and reach and that’s where I learnt all the tricks of the trade. I was there for 2 years and I got headhunted at City Quays in the Canada Water area. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. After I joined, I was there for a while, they’re a fantastic agency and in 2018 they rebranded to JS & Co. They were doing really well and due to my performance, they offered me shares in the company in 2018, which was awesome. A few months later, the director sold the company to me.

So for the past 2 years I’ve been running the agency since then. It’s been ten years since I found real estate. This is one of the industry’s that I love and I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Were you primarily in lettings or in sales?

I was doing lettings for 8 years. I was in sales for a while but in the beginning, it felt too long-winded for me. But then I started to get into sales. So now I’m more well-rounded.

How was last year for you, and how did you adapt?

When it first came down, I was worried. But after the lockdown and because we were working from home. But once we came back to the office, our sales went up by three hundred percent. It was easier than it’s ever been and all of last year was actually really, really busy for us.

The difficultly was more because tenants were not paying or being furloughed which affected our management. But then again, our vendors were really, really understanding and we got over that. I think the lettings market took a hit because we weren’t getting the same level of rentals that we were used to.

My team did a fantastic job dealing with everything and professionally and with their health. We all took the necessary precautions, and no one had a COVID scare.

Is there anything that you hope to see permanently change within the industry this year, something that you know should firmly be left behind?

I think most people are trying to develop virtual tools but for us we had started doing this from last year. And this is a great way to qualify your applicants and ensure that those coming actually want to see the property. That they are serious.  

We’ve actually started to make sure that people had a mortgage approved in principle and asking for proof of funds beforehand. This helps us ensure that we are showing the right properties and we’re also minimizing the risk of infection.  Our main goal is to make sure our clients, vendors, landlords, tenants are all safe and sound.

Of course. Have you had a lot of pushback because of that?

To be honest, people were surprised, but it didn’t really stop things for us. And simply if they can’t and don’t want to that’s fine, we’re looking for very serious buyers and keeping the safety of my team and my clients at the top of the list.

And how do you see this year progressing?

With the rental market, I think there will definitely be high. I think it is going to improve because of the flood of people coming back to the UK.

In terms of the sales, I would say it would take about 10 to 20 per cent hit. I think mortgage is going to be impossible to get. With anyone that’s been furloughed, I believe mortgage companies would find a reason not to give them a mortgage.

If there was one thing that you could change within the real estate industry, what would that be?

The one thing I think would be is that I would want the government to help the real estate agencies more. They’ve kind of cut down a lot of avenues for us. The government has been making it harder and harder for our vendors which disincentives them to join the market. Agents are restricting their fees because of the loss of income and that will come from the vendor.

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

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My Real Estate Story: Murray

Meet Murray Lee, a man with an impressive 48 years’ of experience in the industry he has truly seen it all. We spoke about his journey in the industry and how much it has evolved over the years. From joining the first portal, to joining Rightmove when it was once free (yes, there was a time this was true) Murray began his career as a junior negotiator and though the industry has changed, there’s one thing he has maintained which is his love for the customer and making sure that they get the best service possible. Here’s his story:  

 

Can you tell me about why how and why you got into real estate? How long has it been now?

Nearly 50 years. I was working in a supermarket in between sixth form and university, and the exam results didn’t quite go the way I wanted. So my mother said, you got to get a job. I happened to walk past an estate agency In Edgware in 1973 with a job offer for a junior negotiator pasted on the door. So I went in and asked about the position, got the job on the 1st interview and I have never looked back.

I was 17 and I had passed my driving test. They gave me a company car, which was unheard of in those days. And I’ve never looked back.

I’ve stayed as an estate agent all my career with various agencies, all in North-West London, which is something many can say. From 1976. I moved around between three or four different agencies in Hendon until 1989 when I did a little bit of property development also in Hendon, using my skills as an estate agent, working with somebody who was a client of mine who was starting in property development.

Unfortunately, the property market was struggling in 1986, and he decided to stop development, concentrating on renting his portfolio. So I had to return to being an estate agent, which I did back in Hendon for another company that offered me the position to manage their branch and revitalise their ageing business. They had been trading since 1932 so there were a little old fashioned. I brought them up to date for that time.

I was then offered a position in Golders Green and I joined a company called Kingsbury’s Estates, which was it was actually dormant at the time. Another agent, mainly with only letting experience, had taken it over and invited me to join as the Sales Director and overall office manager, which I did.

We grew that business for 18 years from 1994. In 2012, the opportunity came up to take over a new company just formed called Dreamview Estates. The owner had started the business in January with limited agency experience and reached out to me to join him as a partner and run the business myself. Kinsgleys was very successful under my guidance and it’s still going.

I have been building and running Dreamview Estates since 2012 and we have grown into one of the most well respected and successful agencies in the area looking to celebrate 10 years in 2022. I’m not sure where the time has gone

 

So you’ve really seen it all?

I’d like to think that I probably have!

Every day something tends to surprise you I mean at the moment, economically and socially, we should be sitting here doing nothing, but we’re actually quite busy.

The property market is quite strong and that, in itself, is amazing.

 

How was last year for your agency?

Well, I think you have to break it down a little bit. Initially it was a bit of a shock, to try and do nothing and go “cold turkey” from March to May. But as soon as we were allowed to open the doors, things took off like a rocket and we were very busy.

I think it’s been quoted often in the media just how busy the property market has been?

And how prices have increased year on year Which doesn’t seem to make sense economically to me.

With so many people out of work, and businesses closing and all the major high street shops making people redundant it doesn’t seem to be logical. But even with 48 years in the business, who am I to say?

We are in a little bit of a “bubble” here in North West London.

However, as I have become well connected through Facebook and other media, fighting the “Say No To Rightmove” campaign  I am finding a lot of estate agents all saying the same thing. So I believe it’s the same across the country.

So there doesn’t seem to be a logic to the economics of buying or selling houses when the country is in a pandemic.

 

With your 48 years in the industry can you talk a little bit about how much has changed?

When I first started a property detail was a sheet of paper with feet and inches for sizes of rooms, no pictures and no one had heard of a floorplan. We only had typewriters a Gestetner printing machine, which is a machine where you turned a typewritten stencil which spread black ink through the gaps into the details.

So it’s grown leaps and bounds and it’s come on dramatically, probably since about 1994 when the internet first came into play. Prior to that, you’re printing your own details sticking your own single mini photographs and so on.

You know, it’s a real different world to what it was, sadly, and I say this an awful lot, I think, down the line, it’s lost some of the customer services, due to everything being done through text message email, or through the internet. You often don’t get to meet the people maybe more than once or twice. If they don’t buy, then you lose the relationship. Agents don’t build a long-lasting network as I have over the years.

Here, we pride ourselves on doing things in a hands-on way.

We don’t simply type an email rather than pick up the phone, we pick up that phone because we’ve gone on to ensure the customer relationship is still very much present.

I remember the very first time I saw properties listed on the internet I thought, who’s going to want to do that?

You had a dial up modem, green screen downloaded pictures, very green and black, and you couldn’t really see much. As I said, I wish I had never said that.!!!!

Well, of course, it’s changed dramatically. Then the portals started coming around, the very first portal was swallowed up very quickly by Rightmove, who then did it all for free. That’s all changed as well. They now charge a kings ransom for marketing your portfolio I’ve been very vocal on the Say No To Rightmove campagin

I think we’re to dependent on portal advertising and you could probably do away with an office.

I don’t intend to because I think that’s our presence and part of our branding and give us local awareness. That’s who we are. That’s the brand. Even though the amount of people coming into the office last year was dwindling. In the old days, we used to advertise in newspapers and waited for Thursday for the newspaper to come out.

Now course, it is more instant. As soon as a property gets listed the phones start ringing. So you couldn’t be more different.

But I think we’ve lost some of our customer service or that relationship with our customers. Estate Agent’s reputation generally has been a little tarnished and we’re seen only as email pushers in my view. It’s very remote.

The problem is that we’ve all got software that we all use doesn’t seem to be able to drill down far enough to the person’s details thoroughly, making it harder to send our customers more targeted properties. And people’s minds change all the time, it’s important more than ever to speak to your customers.

 

And how do you see 2021 progressing?

Well, we are hanging over from last year, we’re still quite busy, but we are noticing fewer new instructions coming on the market.

The shortage of properties on the market is creating a lot of activity. We’re getting viewings of what we have available and I’ve got to say it’s been positive so far. That dynamic may change and that therefore makes it too early to say what’s going to happen.

 

Have you noticed a change in the tenant demographics of who’s moving into or out of your area?

No, I don’t think so. OK, a very unusual area. It is predominantly a Jewish area, and people stay within the confines of this local area because they’ve got synagogues and temples. Remember Jewish people don’t drive on Saturday. So they need to be in a very local area. So for me I haven’t noticed a major difference just based on the existing demographic of the area.

 

What advice would you give to agents that suffered this year?

Keep your costs down to make sure you can financially weather the storm.

And just don’t forget to provide a service, that is what is important. You give your clients value and good service and they will come back to you.

 

What is something that you are looking forward to in the new year?

Easy, more instructions. Always more instructions.

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

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