Melanie Bien, former journalist and industry commentator, speaks to Simon and Christian to find out why they have chosen to launch in a tough, uncertain housing market…
Melanie Bien: You have established backgrounds working for big corporate agencies – Simon as director of sales at Sotheby’s International Reality and before that Knight Frank, clocking up 16 years working in prime central London, while Christian you have 15 years’ transactional experience in the prime markets of London, working as a director of Savills for much of that time. Why did you choose to branch out on your own with Tedworth Property?
Simon Tollit: It’s no secret the prime market is undergoing challenging times at the moment and clients are looking for advice from experienced agents to guide them through the process of selling their property. We both concluded that there is a gap in the market for a first class, personalised and bespoke service.
Christian Warman: Between us, we have over 30 years’ combined experience, transacting in excess of £1 billion-worth of property in central London, so we know a thing or two about this market.
MB: How did you come together to launch Tedworth?
ST: We have known and respected each other for more than 12 years, and we were each other’s main competition before we got chatting and came up with the idea that is now Tedworth Property.
CW: We were on a training bike ride together and were discussing ideas and the limitations of our current positions – so towards the end of a climb up Box Hill I puffed: ‘Why don’t we set up by ourselves and do something about it?’ – and the rest, as they say, is history.
MB: Did you not find current market conditions off-putting with the top end of the London market in particular proving to be tough?
CW: It may be a tough, uncertain market but in many ways that makes it a great time to launch. We have both worked in tough markets before, back in the early noughties and during 2008/09, and we realise that clients need advice that really focuses on their needs, rather than an agent motivated by building a book of instructions. We have the dedication, time and tools at our disposal to really focus on selling our clients’ properties, rather than simply managing a long list of frustrated clients.
MB: What do you see as the prospects for the London market? Is the Chancellor likely to cut stamp duty in next month’s Budget, as many agents at the top-end of the market are calling for?
ST: People want to travel and have houses in different parts of the world. London has lots to offer that other cities don’t have – schools, culture, the weather – you’d be surprised, it does appeal to those who may live in a hot climate most of the year round – relative safety, a well-established legal system. There may be bumps in the road but these factors will continue to attract buyers for many years to come.
CW: What is encouraging is that people finally seem to be listening to the advice of agents. Clients have welcomed our candid, straightforward and realistic approach, as well as listening to the ways and means we have of attracting buyers and really looking after them. Property prices are becoming more realistic, which is healthier for the market going forward but we can’t see any tweaks to stamp duty coming up in the Budget.
MB: Why should a vendor, or indeed a buyer, choose a new, boutique agency such as yourselves rather than a big, established estate agency?
ST: It all hinges on advice and experience. You cannot afford to use an inexperienced agent and if you sign up a big estate agency, you may be delegated to a junior negotiator at some point. We believe every potential buyer must be treated with the utmost care and attention, and you need an agent with the experience to do that, now more than ever. We have the same tools available to us as our bigger competitors, but Tedworth Property’s vendors and buyers are given a very personalised, bespoke service.
MB: Which parts of London will you concentrate on and do you have any plans to branch out to other parts of the country?
ST: Our office is based close to Sloane Square and we cover all of central London, including Mayfair, Marylebone, Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge and Belgravia.
CW: Central London is what we know and we know it extremely well. It makes sense to focus on a particular area, especially if that is your strength.
MB: How did you come up with the name Tedworth Property?
CW: Finding a name for a new business is much harder than one might think. We thought long and hard about all variety of creative names but in the end settled on the name of a local garden square close to our office.
MB: What sort of clients would be best suited to your services?
CW: Those who are struggling to sell and would like a refreshing, forward-thinking and experienced approach, should contact Tedworth Property.