For some time now, we’ve been fending off homeowners from that most unfamiliar of territories: the UK outside London. It had seemed only natural, as an estate agent for the most interesting and unique spaces in what is probably the world’s best city, that we should shun the very thought that life and property outside the capital could in any way be interesting. Turns out we were wrong.
A lot of people with interesting property around the UK call us to see if we’ll act for them in the sale, and a lot people we sell property for inside London are looking outside the capital for something to buy. In a way, it’s a wonder we didn’t make the connection sooner. We’re not quite sure where the eureka moment came from, but at some point very recently it dawned on us that we needn’t say goodbye to clients simply because they want to move to another part of the country, and we could certainly be of service to people in other parts of the country who wanted to say hello.
Obviously there are some logistical differences. Although we visit the properties we take on – we could hardly market them with any integrity without doing so – you won’t find us flying up the M1 to carry out viewings in Derbyshire, or grabbing a First Great Western (no, not even first class) to a viewing in Wales; that’s simply not very practical. However, life outside our great city appears to be rather different, with homeowners having both the desire and – gasp! – time to show potential buyers around their property. This wouldn’t work in London; people are generally way too busy.
Marketing a property to a local audience is easy enough; Rightmove, onthemarket and other portals take care of that. It is now the presentation and profile of a property that takes precedent over a local branch office. And reaching a specialist global audience, those specifically on the lookout for something a little bit different, is more difficult. These people generally don’t spend their time on the property portals because the search results are too wide, too general. This is where we come in.
After banging on about unusual, esoteric, interesting and one-of-a-kind property for almost 20 years, we have built a reputation for exactly that. We get to see a lot of people that regular estate agents never come into contact with, giving us access to a unique audience. Our newsletter, for instance, is sent around the world to thousands of people who simply aren’t known to the regular property market. It gets to people other agents can’t reach.
Clearly the Internet is making things possible that were simply inconceivable before: not only for us, but for our customers too. While many of our clients would never even consider leaving London, others are moving out of London but staying in the same field, using technology to replace the need for sitting in an office. And with the ways we work becoming more flexible, inspiring ever more disruptive businesses and entrepreneurial behaviour, people are starting to look at what’s possible for their own life.
England is rammed with interesting property, with countless mills, barns, manor houses and water towers transformed into some of the most extraordinary living spaces around. It is quite wrong, indeed arrogant, to dismiss them out of hand because they’re not a 10-minute walk from a contemporary art gallery or tube line.
Similarly, our brand doesn’t need to be London specific. People use us because of our knowledge and position in the marketplace, not because we’ve never been to Nottingham. We’ve always maintained that location, location, location is only really important for boring property, so it seems right and property that we should follow our own words and embrace the rest of the country.