Our occasional series highlighting the work of businesses Oportfolio works with continues with a look at City To Country relocation – a property relocation service with a difference, run by a man who knows a thing or two about the advantages and disadvantages of city life.
There comes a time for some people when the hustle and bustle of city life becomes just a little more than they can bear.
While some people are born city dwellers and could never imagine living anywhere other than within the beating heart of a metropolis in all its glory, for others the appeal begins to wear thin: the noise and the crowds become elements of life that either intrude or are to be avoided, being in the right place for the right school becomes an obsession, the traffic becomes a soundtrack that jars rather than soothes.
One option for those who are determined to escape the hurly-burly of city life is to trade the city streets for a smaller, less frenetic environment.
Michael Edwardes knows as much as there is to know about escaping from a big city to the more sedate existence that smaller cities, towns and villages can offer.
Michael spent 15 years as an estate agent in London, a decade of those in South Kensington, before he finally swapped the capital for the ancient spa city of Bath in the West Country. Three years ago, after working at a local estate agency, he launched his property relocation business, City To Country, which specialises in finding properties for people looking to find a life – permanently or through a second home – away from the hubbub of a city.
He says: “I’ve turned from gamekeeper, trying to sell property at the highest possible price, to poacher, trying to buy property for as little as possible.
“Having made the move from London myself, I can combine my professional career here and in London with my personal experience of relocating from a city to try to ensure the people I represent get the best possible service.”
Whether it’s a country cottage, a Georgian townhouse or a country bolt-hole, his aim is to find the right property for the right price for the right person. His clients are usually people living in London or ex-pats relocating from overseas postings – but his highly-regarded, personalised service is well-suited to anyone who wants to move in or near to Bath but doesn’t have time to house hunt themselves.
Unlike many relocation agents, Michael isn’t tied in to a particular estate agency, meaning the people who use him to find their new retreat in the country can be sure they’re getting a truly independent service where there’s no agenda around the properties being put in front of them.
“That’s one of the USPs we have,” says Michael. “There are many property agents who do have links to big estate agents, so what you’re likely to be seeing are the properties they specifically want to market.”
By contrast, Michael has a good relationship with all the estate agents in the Bath area and because he’s dealing only with people who have already committed to the principle of relocating and have identified Bath as the area they want to move to, most properties pass across his desk long before they make it onto an online site like Right Move.
“Many of the properties my clients see haven’t yet made it online,” he says, “because the agents understand that the people I represent are serious buyers. I know from my own experience as an estate agent that most of the people who walk through your door don’t buy from you. But what I’m offering is access to strong buyers who are ready to commit.”
Michael believes there are other advantages to the service he offers, as well – not least the convenience of having access to local knowledge.
He says: “When I talk to clients about what they need and what they’re looking for, I’m using my own knowledge of Bath and its surrounding area to make sure the properties I’m recommending are more likely to be the sort of thing they’re looking for.
“Coming down to look at a property only to find it’s not remotely what you’re looking for or it’s not in the right area is a waste of people’s time. What I can offer is the confidence that you’ll come down to see something and there’s a very good chance that it’s going to tick a lot of the boxes.”
And once the dream home has been identified, Michael’s other London-honed skills come into play. He negotiates over price
with the estate agent, working hard to secure the property at the lowest possible cost.
He says: “Property in Fulham these days is probably around £1,000 per square foot on average, higher when you go into Kensington and Chelsea. By contrast, property in Bath is somewhere around £500 per square foot.
“Obviously, some properties are higher and the further out you go, the more that figure reduces. So, you can get a lot of value here. And if I can use my own knowledge and skills to get that property at an even lower price, then so much the better.”
If you’re thinking of upping sticks and moving out of London, you can find out more about Michael and City To Country by visiting www.citytocountry.co.uk or by telephoning 01225 325859