Why Did I Found A Residential Property Consultancy?
I bought my first home in 1996. My father had kindly given me & my brother (who was still at Edinburgh University) the deposit for a house. My job as eldest son was to find a good property. Needless to say at the age of 24 I did not have a clue what I was doing and my father wisely vetted everything. I lost count of the number of homes I viewed and how many he rejected, but I remember my undiluted excitement when we bought a four bedroom house that later proved to be a fantastic home and investment. When my brother decided to get married we sold the house as his wife curiously decided that she did not want to live with me as well.
I started looking for a new home, but the initial excitement turned to boredom, which then turned to frustration. I could not understand why the process of buying a home was so painful. Had the estate agents been this poor four years ago? Why was I being shown completely inappropriate properties despite my requirements being very clear? (Of course the only thing that had changed was me). The process continued until I found what I considered to be an under-priced property, which I bought, refurbished and sold for a substantial profit.
I repeated this process, but became increasingly perplexed by the estate agents. They knew me well by this stage, but were still showing me properties that they must have known I would never buy. It was then that I realised that the estate agents were not really interested in what I, the buyer, wanted. Their legal obligation was to sell their clients’ property at the highest price – not to find me my ideal home. I also discovered that not only did they have sales targets to hit, but viewing targets as well, so my precious time was an irrelevance to them.
The Birth Of A Club & The Golden Rule
Essentially the process of acquiring a property was and still is rigged against buyers. All the information in the press and on the websites is effectively controlled by estate agents or mortgage companies who provide the data and have a vested interest in “talking up” the market. Even worse, the estate agents only have a “thin” legal duty to buyers while being legally obliged to achieve the highest price possible. Therefore, taking advice from an estate agent on the value of a property is like asking a used car salesman for advice on the price of a car.
On realising this I determined that there had to be a better way to acquire property in prime central London, so I founded Mercury Homesearch. The concept was, and still is, simple: to acquire property on the best terms possible for the buyer by offering objective advice backed up by the highest level of research and expertise. However, I also wanted to make the entire experience of acquiring a home exciting, enjoyable and efficient by removing the unnecessary wasted time and stress endured by the average buyer. Consequently, the company has become a club. The golden rule: No Two Clients Can Have The Same Criteria, so that every member enjoys a bespoke experience where they are the sole focus.
Over 10 Years Later:
- having spoken to 232+ estate agents every week for over ten years (which means a minimum of 120,640 phone conversations)
- having physically viewed over 22,000 properties in prime central London
- having studied the details of over 153,400 apartments, houses and investment opportunities (and rejected them as unsuitable)
- having built up an unrivalled network of “off market” contacts
Mercury are widely acknowledged as being the experts on acquiring property in Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Kensington, Chelsea, Marylebone and St James’s. Our views have featured on Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg India and in Forbes Magazine, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Times, Spear’s Wealth Management, MoneyWeek and The Daily Telegraph to name but a few.
Over 80% of our clients are introduced to us by past clients, who trust us to maintain the levels of service and expertise for their friends and family. We have had the privilege of representing families in the Forbes 100 as well as some of the world’s leading CEO’s and entrepreneurs. Our clients come from around the globe including India, Italy, Canada, Greece, Qatar, Brazil, America, France, U.K., New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Africa, Russia, Singapore, Georgia and Sweden.
Most importantly we don’t have any sales or acquisition targets to “hit”.
I own Mercury and the firm has no debt, so we are on a sound footing. I also took the decision to only act for a select number of members at any one time to ensure the highest levels of service. We refuse membership to c. 35% of applicants. In addition, I feel that sales/acquisition targets would be detrimental for our members because they are the main reasons why the typical buyer receives such poor advice and service. However, this does not mean that we plod along waiting for the finest homes to fall in our lap. We have targets and processes to ensure that we source the finest residences before anyone else, so that you can have first refusal.
If you are accepted as a member you may initially be surprised that we advise you not to buy properties or to buy only at considerable discounts to the guide price. However, if we recommend a property you will know that it will have had to have passed the most strenuous of tests to be approved by us.
One of the major problems with the property market in the U.K. is that it is effectively unregulated. I find this frightening considering the sums involved and it is no surprise that estate agents are often ranked in the top five most unpopular professions. There are simply too many salespeople chasing “fees”. Consequently some estate agents are now trying to act for buyers too in an attempt to boost their earnings. Even worse, they often try to do this outside of their core areas of expertise.
I have two rules to avoid this:
- We will only ever acquire properties for our clients in prime central London – I have been asked on several occasions to acquire country estates and houses for clients. I have always refused and turned down potentially large fees because although I know we could do a better job than our members, we know firms who could do a better job than us. You wouldn’t go to a neurologist if you needed a heart operation and the same logic applies here.
- We will never sell property for our clients – Firstly this could lead to a conflict of interest. Secondly, I genuinely believe that some estate agents provide a fantastic service for sellers. Therefore our members are better advised to use an estate agent. Of course, we will advise on the best agents to use and manage the whole process to save our members time and stress, but the actual selling of the property should be left to the estate agents.
Of course anyone can say they are exceptional, but how many firms can prove it?
Firstly, I recommend you request your complimentary copy of “The Seven Most Expensive Mistakes London Property Buyers Make & How To Avoid Them” so that you can learn some of the steps and strategies we use to give our clients first refusal on the finest properties. Simply fill in the form now and we will send it to you immediately.
If you would like to read comments from past members of our club, please click here. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to past members, please email email@example.com and we will arrange a call (please note that confidentiality is essential for our clients. However, some have kindly offered to speak to potential future members. Your information is strictly confidential and we will never give or sell your details to a third party).
More about me.
I was educated at Eton College. The entrepreneurial spirit comes from both of my parents: my father was an entrepreneur and my mother was a highly successful business woman who helped a number of “start-up companies”. I am married to Serena and have two children, Milo & Flora. I have seven Godchildren: Charlie in Australia, Isabel in Dubai. In the U.K. – Xander, Louis, Amelia, Sam, and Theo.
Outside of property, sport is my great passion. Tragically my eagerness is not matched by talent. Age has also caught up with me so I am now only able to play football sporadically. I still play squash and golf regularly and run the occasional marathon. I actively raise money for Leukaemia Research, The Eve Appeal and The Sarah Matheson Trust. There are no pets, although I am reliably informed that that is soon to change…