Estate and lettings agency Chase Evans has an international property portfolio valued at more than £1.8billion, with over 3,000 properties on their books and offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.
But with eight offices in London, and three of those based in Canary Wharf, this wide-reaching company still has its heart in England’s capital city.
After the firm won the Medium-To-Large Agency and Multi-Branch Agency categories at The Wharf Property Awards 2017 , we spoke to staff at its Pan Peninsula office to find out more about life at Chase Evans.
Operations Director: Ian Ruffle
With Britain preparing to leave the European Union and a hung Parliament elected operations director Ian Ruffle could be forgiven for being, well, ruffled by the prospect of an uncertain future.
But he’s far from it – certain Chase Evans’ reputation, knowledge and relationship with its clients will see the firm through.
He said: “Brexit has brought some instability but what the real challenges will be, I couldn’t tell you yet. No-one could. It’s far too early to tell.
“There was the initial shock of it but business carries on. There hasn’t been a mass panic and there hasn’t been a mass exodus. It’s business as normal and we just have to adapt to the circumstances.
“We aren’t panicking as a company and so that message is coming across to our clients. We have nothing to panic about.”
He said: “There’s always a lot of competition around here. We have three offices in Canary Wharf and we’ve been here for 19 years. We have a good reputation and a good name and the knowledge.
“We also deal with a lot of international clients and are really able to look after them. I don’t think these online companies will be able to touch the international market.
“You need someone to talk to tenants face to face and help them through the process. We have an online presence as well, but it’s very important to have a front office.
“It might be a more challenging market but I wouldn’t say that it’s a challenge for us.”
Sales Manager: Wei Huang
The news may be full of stories about house prices crashing and people fleeing London in droves to buy homes, but sales manager Wei Huang says the truth is far more reassuring.
He said: “A lot of house prices are still at the level they were during the end of 2015 or the start of 2016. We keep hearing that the markets are going to crash but we just haven’t seen that at all.
“People just want to see a rise in value year-on-year, but the market has been stabilising so that isn’t happening now. But it’s not a problem.
“In 2008 the market crashed and that was a real challenge. People just couldn’t afford to buy.
“Right now people are just taking a little longer to weigh up the decision, and we need to make sure we are providing them with the right advice.”
He added: “Over the last decade we have gone through this trend of people leaving London twice already. They move out and then a few years later they come back.
“There was a stage when absolutely no-one wanted to live in central London, but now it’s popular again. It always changes.”
Wei also offered his advice for anyone thinking about getting onto the property ladder.
He said: “I always ask customers how long they are going to keep the property and what it is they want from it.
“If you want a long term investment, go slightly on the outskirts and wait for the value to appreciate.
“If you want a return straight away, pick something near the centre of Canary Wharf or Surrey Quays.
“Just make sure the area is what you think it is, and do your homework properly.”
Lettings Manager: Lauren Houlihan
Britain leaving the European Union also doesn’t appear to have made a noticeable dent in the rental market, according to lettings manager Lauren Houlihan.
She said: “I don’t see Brexit being a big problem. When it was first announced it was a bit of a shock, but we haven’t seen any real decrease in demand or business. People always need to move for one reason or another.
“Some prices might have stayed the same or decreased slightly rather than going up every year, but landlords understand what’s going on.
“Generally speaking they are prepared to keep the price level lower or the same as what they have been making previously. That’s the advice at the moment.
“Normally, if you’re struggling to find a tenant, it’s down to the price of the property. It’s important to look around and see what other properties are being advertised for and what other agents are saying.”
Lauren added: “You do hear of bad landlords sometimes, but we have never experienced any problems. We wouldn’t take on a property that isn’t in a good condition.
“Everyone we have dealt with has always been very nice. I think Canary Wharf as an area just has better landlords than other places.”
Senior lettings negotiator Merlin Ansah
Senior lettings negotiator Merlin Ansah has worked with Chase Evans for six years, and said there isn’t another firm he’d rather be at.
Merlin said: “The biggest challenge with my job is making sure you give the best service to both the landlord and the tenant. Everyone has different expectations, so it’s just meeting those and moving forward and trying to expand.
“When you meet that goal, and when your clients say they are very happy and going to recommend you, that’s when you know you’ve given the best service. It’s a good feeling.”
He added: “Chase Evans is a market leader. I really like the team, and the systems they have in place, and obviously the stock you get is great.
“You can’t get these kind of properties in other places. I love working and being a part of this area. I just really love Canary Wharf.”
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