My Real Estate Story: Kevin

Meet Kevin, the founder of Property Jigsaw. Property Jigsaw provides estate agents with a streamlined solution to taking 360 tours of residential and commercial properties. After 20 years in the industry, Kevin welcomed the opportunity to go out on his own to bring efficiency to an industry that he knows so well. Here’s his story:


Can you tell me about how you got into real estate?

 

I became an estate agent not because I woke up one day and thought this is a really good opportunity and I really want to be one, but my friend got me an interview. I got offered a job and that was it. This is when I was, uh, in my early twenties. I started off as a negotiator. I did that for a couple of years. I then moved up the ranks and became a valuer.

 

Then I moved to London and I became a manager of and agency in Shepherd’s Bush. And ever since then, I’ve, I’ve either run sales or lettings offices across Northwest London. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed more the London side of things to be honest. The level of work was more interesting, enjoyable and the market was better. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster over the last five years

 

I was an estate agent for over 20 years and I was let go because of the coronavirus, which obviously wasn’t great, but turned out okay, to be honest, I had had enough of it. It just all come at a bad time, but it was for the right reasons. In the last year and a half while I was working in my last job, running an office in Wilson, Greater London, I had spent a lot of time developing a platform that my friends set up. Which is a virtual tour platform. They are successfully working with some of the biggest companies in the Marine industry. That’s been working really well for them for the last three or four years.

They always wanted to move into the property industry and for the last year and a half I’ve been working with them to get the platform ready or closer to being ready for the property industry.

 

I’d been working with them so closely, it was just the right time for me to open up property jigsaw and start marketing to a very low level. As I said, we haven’t mocked formally or officially, but I’ve gone to my clients and contacts over the last year, few years. Um, and I’ve, I’ve got some of those onboard for virtual tours. So if there is business there, but it’s not the level that I needed to beat it, but, um, but yeah, I’m changing my tactics

 

Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

 

I’ve got my own company, I’m creating virtual tours for companies and estate agencies. It is a really hard sell because their view generally is that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Not that they don’t need it, they’re just not too keep on embracing technology. It’s the younger generation of agents that are a little bit more receptive, but I have found it very difficult, getting virtual tours into an estate agency bearing in mind, we haven’t marketed our company efficiently or anything yet. That obviously doesn’t help, but I’m coming off the back of three years of success. The platform itself is the number one virtual tool provider for the Marine industry.


Shocking because you think that now with everything we’d move more towards digital, you’d think that they’d be more open to getting virtual tours, they’re just taking a little longer to get there.


Some of them have gone down the digital road but there are 2 big companies out there already. It’s just not a practical industry because it takes so long for them to shoot and then to create tours. Although they promise a quick turnaround, it’s not. And once you you’re your tour you cannot manipulate it. From an estate agency background, it doesn’t work very well.

So all of that, again, in an ideal scenario for estate agents, you think that this is the market where virtual tours will take off because of the social distancing, and people are willing to be around each other. But again, this goes back to, it’s not a broken market because of the government have put protocols that all agents are breaking. So we’ve moved more towards catering towards developers that have multiple units.

 

And how has your success been with developers?


And the feedback has been amazing and this has something that the other platforms can’t do. My time isn’t spent traveling an hour to do a job for virtually nothing. I am able to cover and cater a much larger project at one time leading to a better use of my time. This is the angle that I’m going towards.

 

So I know you said that you guys do something differently. Can you tell me a little bit more about, um, what you do differently?

There are options they can do themselves. They can shoot the photos and upload them, and we build the tools or we can do everything for them. So with our platform, I’m probably more agile than any other platform out there. But there are still some development stages and phases that we’re going through so when someone wants something done, we were still able to manipulate it, to suit our clients. What we offer is a bespoke service for every client as well.

If someone wants a three 60 gallery, we can crack a gallery for them. If they want the full tour experience, we’ll create that they want floor plans, we’ll create the floor plans. And that is the main benefit with us is that it is a live platform. There’s no development needs for them to show 360 images on their own website galleries.

 

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

Honestly, some normality, so we can get back to having a real chat rather than these virtual chats we’re doing. Although it probably goes against what I’m doing in terms of virtual tours, it would be nice to have some social sort social interaction and that for me, has been massively missed. From a business perspective I hope that education helps agents to realize that this is an advantage and a benefit to them rather than something that’s going to take something away from them.

There are some companies that use it, but they’re not using on every single property, but all it takes is for one company or agency, maybe one of the larger organization to embrace it with every property on their books. And then everyone else follows too.

What do you think is going to be one of the biggest changes in the way that estate agencies work in 2021?

I don’t think there are going to be many changes. If anything, the only change will not be the way that people do business in the industry. It will be a change of the market conditions, when the full extent of the pandemic and financial impact it has on the economy. I think this will determine everyone’s 2021 in the property industry.

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: Alex

This week I sat with Alex Evagora, an estate agent a specialist in the Super Prime property sector within the UK. A former finance professional found his calling in real estate 7 years ago. Putting his sales skills to the test he has now started at a new venture with Daniel Daggers Real Estate. Here is his story:

 

What was it about real estate that really drew you towards it and how did you get into it?

 

I was unfortunately sacked from a role in the finance industry in, 2013 or 2014. I just wasn’t very good at the job at all. So bad. I mean, I would’ve just sacked myself if I was my boss, I don’t blame her for doing that.

 

And previously I’d been in sales roles like telesales, selling things to people I’ve never met before. I realised, why not use that experience and apply my sales skills to face-to-face sales, something that has a product I believe in. That product was property. 

 

I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say “oh I love property. I love architecture. I love interior design”, that’s not true. But I like people, I like dealing with people in the street all day, every day. And that just, you know, from day one that just pulled me in. I’ve just been obsessed with this aspect of my work ever since day one in 2014, I think it was. Making it 7 years in the industry this upcoming May. 

 

So where are you working now? 

 

I work for Daniel Daggers Real Estate. There’s just two of us as agents at the moment. We teamed up back in March just before lockdown and I’m self-employed. I’m not employed or on a payroll so I’m very much incentivized to sell a property and in the best way possible for the clients. The goal always being to provide the clients with the best service possible.

 

Daniel was the ex-head of the private office at Knight Frank, I see he’s sold $4 billion worth of real estate and he says, statistically, that nobody’s sold more real estate than him. So, if anyone’s reading this who thinks they have, I urge them to come forward. 

 

And where do you see yourself going in real estate?

 

That’s a really interesting question. Someone else asked me this, I think about two or three days ago. And you know, I always knew what I wanted to do and that was always to start my own company. And I did do that last year. I started W1 estates and I was trading as Alex Evagora.

 

Daniel’s been mentoring me for the past year and a half to two years or so and I see him as a thought leader in our industry. When he left Knight Frank, he sat me down and said, “Alex come and work with me” and I couldn’t turn down the offer. Starting your own company is great and earning full fees is great, but what was more important to me, especially at this stage of my career is realizing that I don’t know everything.

 

The more I learned the more I realised how much I didn’t actually know. I come from a lettings background as well, and he comes from a sales background and I want to keep learning before I actually go off and do my own thing. I speak about that very openly, Daniel knows that one day I will go on and probably do that. But who knows when that might be I’ve still got so much to learn every day.

 

What has been your biggest takeaway from all of this?

 

I think with the industry in the UK, the reason why it’s got such a bad name as estate agents is that we don’t represent the buyer. We act only for the seller. When we’re negotiating or doing viewings, we’re not always acting in their best interest. The way we’ve done things over the years has led to a negative reputation for the industry as a whole. And this needs to change.  

 

In America, the buyers are represented equally and agents from both the seller and the agent side split their fees. I think that needs to happen here quickly so that we can do a better job for our clients. 

 

In America, you’ve got to get a broker’s license and they differ from state to state. So you really have to put in some effort to become an estate agent. Over here however, there’s no real barrier to entry into industry. And people tend to fall into this role, this job. Nobody grows up saying, “I want to be an estate agent”. That’s another thing which needs to change. And I think when that does happen, which I think they’re working on, then things will get better. 

 

You have a well-established personal brand on social media. How important do you think that is for estate agents?

 

It’s paramount, absolutely paramount. Every single agent needs to be on social media for so many different reasons, I can list 80 different reasons. I saw this years ago, when I was in an employed role in one of my previous companies, I was borderline bullied for my social media activity and the content I was putting out there. Which wasn’t nice, but I stuck with my gut feeling.

 

Traditionally agents would advertise in the newspaper, which is where a lot of people’s eyeballs would be. When my parents wanted to buy a property, they would walk down a high street in their area and walk in and look for a property as if they were in a shop. They’d simply ask “What do you have available for us?”

 

What do you have now? You go on the internet, right? And if you want to advertise as an agent, you want to advertise where everybody’s eyeballs are and that goes for any sort of business. These days people are on their phone when they’re on the phone and which app you use the most? I guarantee you, it’s probably social media, it’s always far up there. If you’re clever about advertising, where do you want to advertise? It should be on social media so that your content is constantly in your potential customers faces. 

 

So when people think of Alex or Shafaq they think property. It’s about branding yourself, because your company might not be around tomorrow, but you have to hedge yourself, have an insurance policy that’s for you. I can’t stress enough that you should just document your days on your story, show people what you’re up to indirectly will build trust in your brand. People may laugh at you in the beginning, but so what, you’re focusing on yourself.

 

The benefits will come when people will see how busy you are. It builds trust and when they’re sitting at the dinner table talking about how someone is looking for an estate agency, you will be the first person that comes to mind.  

 

I’m not going to pretend like I’m some social media guru, cause I’m really not, you know, I’m not very active on it these days because I’m so busy and I’m not an influencer or a social media guy and the work takes precedent. 

 

It’s important to continue to provide valuable content and not just about new instructions or deals closed. 

 

Are there any other industry leaders, so I know you mentioned Daniel Daggerhas been a mentor to you. Are there any other industry leaders that you look up to?

 

Ryan Serhant, who’s just started his own company in America is very forward-thinking. He’s put it out there. He’s been very open, transparent about his experiences and what he really does. He’s confident and shared that knowledge openly and actively. 

 

What are you looking forward to in the new year? 

 

I think so at the moment, our company is very reactive. We haven’t even launched the website yet. It’s going to be very, very different to what others have done. It’s taken time to perfect it before we launch. I’m looking forward to being a properly established company with a website and a proper location. I’m ready to attack the market and being a bit more proactive in the way I do business. I’m really looking forward to the new year. We’ve been in lockdown and working independently, and I’m looking forward to being able to spend more time with Daniel and learning more from him, shadowing him more. Really going at it.

 

If you were to tell agents one thing that they need to change so that they can be successful in 2021, what would that be?

 

All right. No pressure. How many people are going to hate me off that question?

 

I think agents should change in 2021. I think they should start realizing that our industry is turning into a brokerage and being more open to talking to other agents, collaborating and not being ashamed to call another agent for a shared deal. 

 

Start posting more on social media and providing more valuable content that people want to see. 

 

Change is hard. It’s not easy. I’m changing even now. Even the way I do a viewing, before I met Daniel was completely wrong and he’s taught me how to do a viewing, in a completely different way. I’m learning from scratch. It’s hard. Of course, sometimes I forget what I’m doing as well. You fall into the old ways, but people need to roll with the times. Things have changed and we need to get on board. You need to be digital now. You really have to otherwise you will get lost. 

 

 

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: Matt

Meet Matt Lanninge, the founder of The Property Expert, an agency aiming to change the way they approach the customer journey. The Property Expert provides a more bespoke journey for their customers. Here is Matt’s story: 

 

So tell me your story, how did you go about starting The Property Expert? 

 

So, I started The Property Expert just over a year ago because I wanted to do things differently than how it’s typically done in the UK.

 

I felt that the way that most agents work doesn’t benefit all their clients and felt there must be a way of doing it better.

 

Yes, in their own right many agencies are successful but for me it’s about ensuring there isn’t a forgotten customer – the ones left still on the market, feeling overly stressed or not getting the maximum value. It’s really about providing the best customer journey and tailoring it to each individual client & property. 

 

The customer is the most important after all. So Matt, could you talk a little bit about how you got started in Real estate? 

 

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve moved a lot and I witnessed both my parents, who separated when I was 7, dabble in property flipping and selling, so property has always been a part of my life.

 

I naturally had a love for property, I’ve lived in building sites and it just made sense for me to establish my career in it. I started as a tea boy at a land agency in the early 2000s, spent the majority of my career for the biggest agent in SE London and started The Property Expert just over a year ago. 

 

And how has your journey with starting The Property Expert been? 

 

It’s been really really good. Challenging of course. I’ve never been a business owner before so I’ve still got a lot to learn but I’ve really enjoyed it so far and each new client success is sweeter as they come. 

 

Did you feel like you needed to make any changes to the way you conducted business during this pandemic? 

 

I had to pivot right away and immediately moved to a virtual model. The benefit of being a self-employed agent is that I was actually able to do that relatively quickly.

 

I never say no to change. I’ve always felt very adaptable which made adjusting during this time easier. Opportunity can come from everywhere, so it’s important to keep an eye out for changes as they happen.

 

I’m constantly trying to learn more to provide my clients with an even better experience. I’ve leant on Keller Williams and other self-employed agents on social media as a source of guidance to allow me to learn from those who are doing it alongside me.

 

In a way, I’m happy to have started when I did, even considering what this year has been.

 

To look into the future, what are you looking forward to in the new year? 

 

Well, my model is very different from the one on the high street. I’m all by myself at the moment and I am looking to hire someone in the new year that can help manage the behind the scene operations.

 

I still want to be responsible for the customer journey, so will continue to do all the viewings and valuations, but I need someone who can help me manage my diary and complete admin so that I can solely focus on my clients & customers. 

 

Tell me a little bit about how your agency is different from other high street agents? 

 

The biggest difference is that everyone deals directly with me to ensure that a higher standard is maintained for all. I add that finesse that is missing in the industry. I ensure that everyone that goes through my agency gets a sterling service and experience. Their needs and requirements are answered and they aren’t just another lead in the database.

 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about selling or letting – there is a reason why people sell or let and the customer’s core goal is often forgotten.

 

The industry has been allowed to rot for too long in the UK, with many continuing to do it badly. I’ve taken my 16 years of experience, considered all the good and the bad, to establish a formula that ensures that my clients & customers are given the best property advice and service.

 

The second thing is service over profit. I focus on a smaller group of clients, but I want to ensure that they’re getting the best experience. With direct access to me at all times, I’m there to make this journey easier for them. 

 

What do you think will be one of the biggest changes in the industry in 2021? 

 

Definitely the rise of the self-employed model. With the likes of Keller Williams, EXP and many others getting bigger and bigger, I think it’s going to sharpen the top agents and the lesser agents will have to find their place in the race to the bottom.

 

There are so many different options now, you can sell a house for free or just £99 if you’d like. Between the online route or going to a trusted agent, this gap in the market is only going to get bigger. Individual personalities will shine through. This allows everyone to get what they want, as long as they’re aware of the options.

 

What about the market? 

 

In regards to the market, a lot depends on what happens with this vaccine rollout and the stamp duty tax in April.

 

For as long as I can remember there has been talk of a crash. I’ve heard that the London market is going to crash all my life, and it hasn’t. We’ve pushed through a lot of tough times, and the reality is, life goes on and people will always want a roof over their heads. People will always want to live in big cities like London, Paris and New York… and though this pandemic is serious and very different, I personally don’t see that changing.

 

I do however see an impact on property prices in April should the Stamp Duty Tax holiday come to an end as planned. I think that property prices will dip or level, as people will no longer be incentivised to move, and some deals will fall through as a result which means more ‘stock’ on the market.

Other than Rishi Sunak no one really knows whether there will be an extension or not. So, whatever your readers are hoping for – I’m rooting for you!

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: Ian

This week I sat down with Ian Bates, the Lettings Manager at a large sales and lettings estate agency. Ian is a hospitality veteran who began his career in Italy at the age of 17. After accidentally stumbling upon a family-run agency, his love for sales was obvious which helped with his eventual move to real estate in 2011. This is his story:

 

Thanks for taking the time today, how have you been over the second lockdown? 

 

It has certainly been an interesting year, albeit a bizarre one. Some things have been positive though and this year I have found myself listening to clients needs a lot more and offering advice rather than pushing for the sale, which I believe has really been needed. 

 

I wanted to make sure that the landlord was making the decision that best suited them, I don’t really have an agenda that I’m pushing, I just want to make them happy. To be honest, sometimes the customer service is lacking a bit in this industry and that’s something that I do my best to fix. As agents, we have a duty to care and spread our knowledge to potential buyers and tenants. Agents need to understand the position that they’re in and that they must provide the knowledge that is missing and helping guide them towards a suitable decision for them. 

 

I know you have a bit of a story, but why don’t you share how you got started in real estate? 

 

Honestly, it was an accident. I was working in hospitality for a very long time. I moved to Italy at the age of 17 and spent 9 years working different jobs in hospitality but I was never really sure if this was the right industry for me. I then stumbled upon a small real estate business over there, it was very different from the UK model but I found myself jumping through different sales roles in the company and spent a short time at a yacht brokerage as well. Which was incredible. 

 

It was around that point that I saw the appeal of the sales-based industry. It was all about getting what you put in. It didn’t always feel like you were working for someone else but rather felt like you were almost working for yourself. I came back to London after 9 years in Italy and ended up in hospitality again. I spent about a year in a restaurant and I realised how unhappy I was and that it wasn’t really for me. From there it was my wife who encouraged me to take some time to figure out what I wanted to do. Wasn’t really great at sitting and doing nothing and it took me a week from quitting to joining Ludlowthompson. 

 

I had tried so many different industries and opportunities and it was all really about finding the right thing for me. The whole thing happened by accident really, I went for the interview and the manager turned around and offered me the position right there. 

 

At that point, I realised I was just really good at it. I always love the psychology of influence and understanding the value of time and kindness. I ended up breaking 6 records within 6 months and was promoted to manager after 6 months, which in hindsight was a bit of a mistake, I just didn’t have enough experience yet. So I then moved to the Assistant Manager at another branch. 

 

From there I moved to Savills, and the main desire for that move was because I was hoping to work at a company where the mindset was a bit different. I had 2 great years with the company but it is such a big corporate company its easy to get lost and it is much harder to really progress. 

 

From there I found myself here and its where I’ve been for the past 5 years and things are going great.

 

Over the past 8 months, we’ve seen so many new things come up, how do you make sense of all of that. 

 

A lot of it is just keeping up with things as they come along. The problem with this industry is that there are so many changes happening continuously that you have to keep adapting as it comes along. A lot of times you just have to be the kind of person who can adapt and change to anything. That has been especially true during the pandemic. For me, I personally keep a daily track of what’s happening on the portals, everything that we are marketing has to be competitive. Landlords now are smarter as well, the best you can be is competitive. I prefer to be honest with my landlords and tell them the honest truth, it’s better to be competitive than try and get lucky. The key is to be prepared, every day. 

 

With just a month left in a year, what are you looking forward to in the new year? 

 

Really, just a sense of normality and to be honest the face masks make it difficult to be a salesman. I understand the reason we need it, but it just hinders how we connect and build a relationship with our customers. That handshake, those facial expressions make a huge difference in how we sell. And it’s unfortunate that when we can’t do that. But safety is of course the most important.

 

The positive of this pandemic has been that agencies are now preparing differently for the upcoming year by ensuring that each property has the virtual tours ready. And this will be really helpful in moving forward, especially for clients that are abroad. 

Find us in London

868 Salisbury House

London Wall, London 

EC2M 5SQ 

United Kingdom

020 8064 1431

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