Meet Alistair, one of our partners here at Best Gapp. He tells us how passionate he is about his work – and Belgravia! He reveals all his secrets for young, up-and-coming estate agents.
At Best Gapp we pride ourselves on delivering the very best service for our clients; which is only possible due to our team spirit and strong work ethic! So we thought we’d introduce you to Alistair Boscawen, one of our partners at this Belgravia estate agents. He explains why he’s passionate about his work and gives tips for young, up-and-coming estate agents…
I love Belgravia
I have been working at Best Gapp for eight years, and have 30 years experience in the industry, the last 20 years in Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Chelsea, with their contrasting styles of architecture. Belgravia offers a more village like atmosphere with peaceful white stucco fronted streets or garden squares close to the local shops and restaurants and is only a short walk from the more international shopping areas of Knightsbridge and Sloane Square. Where nicer to spend a quiet sunny morning than in the local coffee shops of Motcomb Street and Elizabeth Street, or to have a quiet drink in one of the pubs situated in a local mews behind a garden square?
Belgravia is a very green area created around three garden squares: Eaton Square being the most recognised address in the world with six separate and very different but formal gardens, Chester Square which is one of the few predominately house squares with two formal gardens and Belgrave Square, which is five acres of formal and informal gardens with a tennis club. The latter is available to residents of Belgravia who wish to become members; whereas the first two are only available to people who live in the squares.
A boutique agency in Belgravia
One of the things that attracted me to the position initially was the local feel of the agency. Best Gapp is the longest serving Belgravia estate agent, having served the area for 130 years, which is probably 100 years longer than any of our competitors! We are a small company who believe that the knowledge of local area is paramount, this enables us to give the best advice to our clients at any given moment. We take into account local conditions and issues that may be occurring at the time and cross-reference this with the needs of our clients to ensure that the best outcome is achieved for them. Being a Boutique Agency we are able to cover all local eventualities, whether it be sales or lettings, professional valuation work, block management or structural surveys and party wall awards all under one roof.
We pride ourselves with our professionalism, accountability from the top down and our ability to get the job done, with the best possible outcome for our clients in the least possible time. Having worked for a large corporate/international company, who knew a little about everywhere, but were not quite so good when it came to local knowledge of an area not so far from their doorsteps; from my point of view working for Best Gapp has been extremely fulfilling.
One of our specialities outside of the day-to-day agency work is leasehold enfranchisement (the opportunity of acquiring a long lease/freehold of your flat or house). I have learnt a lot from Courtney Manton, the senior partner here at Best Gapp. Having had a wide range of experience in the past, from country houses to London townhouses and flats, I think I have learnt more in the last eight years and have a much greater understanding of the thoughts and procedures that go into extending a lease or buying a freehold; which can often be life changing for our clients.
We recently had a client whose lease on their flat had run down to one year (you would be surprised how often this can happen with busy people who are often concentrating on their work rather than their primary asset). He came to us with a view to selling his flat with a one year lease probably worth between £100,000 and £150,000, we advised against this and suggested approaching the relevant estate to acquire a lease extension of 90 years under the relevant housing act. The client said he could not afford an extension and that time was running out. We said that this was not a problem as the lease would stop running down when we served notice on the estate to extend. We also advised that when we had reached agreement with the estate on the value of an extension that this would enable us to go to the market with a long lease and that the client would not need to pay for the extension if the property was sold within two months.
Helping our clients
In this instance we agreed a lease extension for circa £1,000,000 and put the flat straight to the market with the benefit of a long lease for £4,500,000. In this case the flat was sold, circa £1,000,000 went to the estate as agreed for the lease extension and the remainder £3,500,000 went back to my client. This was only possible because we know our market. That is the sort of niche work that makes getting out of bed in the morning both satisfying and rewarding. You have to know the game to play the game!
Building local relationships
Sounds obvious, but it’s vital when it comes to getting ongoing business from clients. It’s about the day-to-day stuff in many ways; but going that bit further for a client helps build loyalty and trust and they then recommend you to their friends and colleagues. This is something that is important with estate agents as they don’t always, have the best of reputations. We have recently sponsored the garden party for Belgrave Square Garden, a sit down dinner and BBQ in the garden with cigar rolling and dancing afterwards, it helped to raise our profile locally and raised money for projects within the square gardens to benefit the members.
One thing that’s imperative when it comes to daily life is rubbing along well those you work with and trusting their judgement Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, not everyone has the privilege of having such an amazing team. We have some brilliant minds that cover pretty well all sectors of the market, we like to train and stretch each other’s knowledge of areas that are not necessarily covered on a day-to-day basis and also makes everyone think outside their comfort zone to find creative answers to difficult questions.
Belgravia image by Herry Lawford