My Real Estate Story: Ben Woolman

My Real Estate Story: Ben Woolman

Meet Ben Woolman, the Director at Woolbro Group, a family run business with a modern approach to residential development and commercial investment. We spoke about how working during the pandemic has allowed businesses to work more efficiently and accomplish just as much, if not more. We also spoke of how planning has changed as people have different requirements as most companies are moving towards a more hybrid work model. 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: Ali Harper

My Real Estate Story: Ali Harper

Meet Ali Harper, the Market Centre Director at Keller Williams. Ali has had an impressive 12+ years of experience within the industry and he has worked through the ranks. At Keller Williams he works with self-employed agents to get them started and be successful as they decide to go out on their own. We spoke of how the industry is evolving and of how far the self-employed and independent models within the industry has come, especially during the pandemic. 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: Cherrelle Wharton

My Real Estate Story: Cherrelle Wharton

Meet Cherrelle Wharton, the Director at Chaad Estates. Cherrelle started her career as an admin executive in a local estate agency. She used this time to learn everything she could about the property industry and progressed to a negotiator. As she progressed in her career she realised her love for property and for the customer, her approach prioritised the relationship with the customer over the transaction. She then made the plunge to start her own agency and has since then gone independent. 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: Neelay Jivan

My Real Estate Story: Neelay Jivan

Meet Neelay Jivan, the branch manager at Felicity J. Lord in Clerkenwell. With a keen eye and interest in property from a young age Neelay joined Felicity J. Lord 9 years ago and worked to manage a branch in Clerkenwell. We spoke of how the branch adjusted to the pandemic and how in order to really grow the industry needs to change. 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: 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