Lessons from London on Real Estate: A Virtual Assistant's Travelogue

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I recently had the pleasure of traveling to London for a two week vacation. My days were filled with trips to iconic buildings and structures, long walks through the streets of London, and lots and lots of tea and biscuits. I had the time of my life. There is nothing like leaving the country to expand your horizons and discover a different way of living.

As a real estate virtual assistant, I can't help but be attuned to anything real estate related - even on vacation. With the obsessive nature of most real estate agents, I'm sure many of you feel the same way when you leave town. You can never quite leave your job because it's always lingering somewhere in the back of your mind.

Here is what I learned during my travels about the world of Real Estate in London...

1. Taking out the "Real"
In England, Real Estate Agents are just referred to as "Estate Agents." Upon further research, I found the formal definition of an Estate Agent is one who purely focuses on connecting a buyer with a seller. Essentially, their main focus is marketing.

2. Fancy Pants Offices
The Real Estate offices here in the States pale in comparison to the office of the British Estate Agent.  When I first passed one of these offices, I thought it was a cafe. Upon further inspection, I noticed the magazines that lined the entire back wall were Real Estate magazines.

To paint you a picture, the London Estate Agent office is comprised of flat screens that hang in the windows, revealing virtual tours of homes, brightly colored chairs and tables to serve a place for inquiring buyers and sellers to sit and chat with an agent, and some even offer a coffee or juice bar to really entice its customers. The whole thing looks like something out of an Ikea catalog.

One of the biggest Estate Agents, Foxtons, explains on their website that the eye-catching, cafe-style offices were created to provide a better service and a more comfortable experience for customers.

3.  Home Hunting Chauffeur Service
Once again, the leader in London Real Estate, Foxtons, has yet another marketing ploy that has become just as iconic as its fancy offices. Estate agents drive buyers and tenants around in style by way of "The Foxton Mini."

The Mini chauffeur service eliminates the worry for parking and congestion and ensures that buyers and tenants can arrive at their viewings stress-free. Each year, they change the design of the mini to keep things fresh and to attract attention - from the "Italian Job" mini in 2001 to the "Xray Vision" mini in 2010.

4. What You Get For Your Money
This may not come as a surprise to you if you are attuned to the real estate market, but homes in London are extremely expensive. I stayed at my cousin's house in a suburb outside London.  His quaint Harrow home complete with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, narrow hallways, one teeny tiny kitchen, and little living space, is worth a whopping 600,000 pounds. I don't even want to know how much it costs you to get 2 bathrooms.

I tell you this partly because I can’t stop talking about London and partly because I found that my trip really opened my mind to a lot of new ideas.  New thoughts and ideas are inspiring.  I wish everybody had the luxury to leave the country because there is nothing better to expand your horizons and open your mind.

You may get stuck in your day-to-day routine and sucked into doing things the way you've always done them. But as you know, if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.

When it comes to your real estate marketing, try to think outside the box. Don't do what everybody else is doing. Take a lesson from the British and do something to go above and beyond for your clients.  In London, you would be doing what everybody else is doing, but here in America, you are sure to stand out from the crowd.


Stacey Clarke
Copywriting and Marketing Coordinator


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Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Lovely post...thanks for sharing your adventure and your insights.

Dec 07, 2010 04:12 AM #1
Karen Supman
Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Partnering with you to live the lifestyle you love

Stacey, Isn't London wonderful! I went last year for the first time & just loved the theatre, archtecture, shopping and food. I did not pay attention to real estate but good for you to be so observent.

I use to live in Chicago & still miss the windy city! I was with Sudler Nagy over there on Michigan Avenue in the John Hancock. I traded all that "wind effect" off the lake for 325+ days of sunshine! I would love to email you about something that may be of interest to you. Watch for my email! Karen

Dec 07, 2010 04:13 AM #2
Ritu Desai
Samson Properties - Ashburn, VA
Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949

Stacey, what a great post!!! It is interesting to learn how same professional work so differently in other part of the world.

Dec 07, 2010 04:25 AM #3
RealSupport, Inc.
RealSupport Inc. - Schaumburg, IL
- Virtual Real Estate Marketing

Thanks for reading Li! 

Karen- Thanks for taking the time to comment!  Yes- London is amazing; so full of life and history!  While we love Chicago, we don't blame you for trading in the harsh winters for all the sun of Arizona!  Thanks for writing and for the email! 

Hi Ritu- Thanks you for your kind words!  It is really interesting to see the real estate profession through a completely different lens!  It can be a great way to spark new ideas and business strategies.  Thanks for taking the time to read and comment- we always love feedback!


Dec 08, 2010 04:19 AM #4
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