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Prime Movers – Buying Agency

These few, Buying Agency’s Prime Movers, are property’s power brokers; the sharpest, shrewdest, most successful, connected, respected individuals on the buying side of the industry; they are at the top of the game at the top of the market.

PrimeResi Prime Movers 2013 - Buying Agents Cover imageFrom oligarchs to Masters of the Universe, power families to old school HNWs, the world’s most influential and important property buyers rely on this lot’s judgement to make their biggest financial decisions. Between them, this handful of top buying agents make the prime resi world go round; they are responsible for billions of pounds-worth of prime property deals every year and are the sharpest hunters in the property jungle.

This list – compiled by the editors of PrimeResi from nominations by PrimeResi readers (and taking into account a healthy dose of rumour, gossip and hearsay) – identifies the most successful, influential and talented individuals operating in the buying agency world today. It’s not just about how many deals or how many millions of pounds transacted; we’ve looked at skill, charm and charisma as well as the quality of deals and that ineffable ability to add genuine value through exceptional service, knowledge and going the extra mile for every client.

Download the Prime Movers as a PDF here, or by clicking the image on the left.

 

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  Charlie Ellingworth & Peter Mackie (Property Vision)
After breaking free from HSBC, all eyes will be on these two stalwarts of the search industry in 2013. Founders of PV back in the day (along with Willie Gething and Rupert Bradstock), Ellingworth and Mackie have been at the forefront of the buying industry since the early 1980’s. With a formidable team behind them (including the prodigious Roarie Scarisbrick, who deserves a special mention here but we had to limit the number of entries per firm) these are exciting times for a firm that continues to raise the bar for every other search provider out there. Read their exclusive interview with PrimeResi below.  www.propertyvision.com /+44(0)20 7823 8388

2

Johnny Turnbull (Turnbull Property) The super-prime specialist, Turnbull is one of the true characters of the property world. Although always a key player, since joining forces with the hugely talented Louisa Brodie, Samantha Blomfield-Smith and Paul Tabor, the new-look, South Kensington-based Turnbull Property has become a real force to be reckoned with.  www.turnbullproperty.com /+44(0)20 7866 6055

3

  Robert Bailey (Robert Bailey Property) The go-to name for high profile HNWs, Bailey is a serial networker and keeper of one of the most envied contact books in the business.  www.robertbaileyproperty.com /+44(0)7831 614486

4

  Camilla Dell (Black Brick) Cutting a huge swathe through the industry, Dell has built Black Brick from the ground up and shown how to create a recognisable – and formidable – brand within the buying sector.  www.black-brick.com /+44(0)20 3393 6091

5

  Philip Selway (The Buying Solution) Managing Partner at Knight Frank’s buying arm for over eight years, Selway started one of the country’s first property search consultancies in the late 1980’s and went on to write the book. www.thebuyingsolution.co.uk /+44(0)20 7591 2647

6

Tracy Kellett (BDI Homefinders) Shrewd, witty and downright hilarious, Kellett’s musings on her eccentric clients have made her famous, but as a thoroughbred buying agent, there are few that can hold a candle to her. www.bdihomefinders.co.uk /+44(0)845 603 6110

7

Charles McDowell (McDowell Propeties) A titan of the HNW scene, McDowell is prime through and through. Chelsea, Belgravia, Kensington and Knightsbridge are very much his patch, whilst his relationships with some of the world’s best private banks are the envy of everyone else. www.mcdowellproperties.co.uk /+44(0)20 3551 2545

 8

James Geddes(Private Property Search) Since welcoming Charlotte de Silva to the team, PPS now has a very strong offering and Geddes is indeed a fine helmsman, boasting 12 years experience at Property Vision. Before entering the property business, he served at home and overseas with the Grenadier Guards for 9 years, two of which were spent as an Equerry to a senior member of the Royal Family, no less.  www.privatepropertysearch.co.uk /+44(0)20 7318 4640

9

Guy Meacock (Prime Purchase) The razor-sharp PCL specialist in Savills’ buying department. Nuff said.  www.prime-purchase.com /+44(0)20 7881 2388

10

Jonathan Harington (Haringtons) Vastly experienced, Harington set up Lane Fox’s buying arm in 1986 and it’s generally regarded that what he doesn’t know about property acquisition probably isn’t worth knowing.  www.haringtons-uk.com /+44(0)20 7661 9388

11

Simon Barnes
Mayfair independent Simon Barnes limits himself to servicing just four or five clients at a time, and refuses to take on two searches that might end up in competition for the same property. This approach, along with absolute discretion and a very big little black book, makes Barnes the go-to guru for a good portion of the HNW set.

12

Ed Tryon (Lichfields) Some were surprised when relative newbie Lichfields walked away with Property Adviser of the Year at last month’s Spear’s Awards, but those who know Tryon will understand why – with a prodigious amount of deals to his name and a nose for an off-market opportunity, he’s exactly who you’d want on your side.  www.lichfields.com /+44(0)20 7100 0550

13

Edo Mapelli Mozzi (Banda Property) Outspoken, fiercely ambitious and one of the property world’s rising stars, Mapello Mozzi’s Kensington-based firm has a strong property management team to back up its acquisition service and has become a real heavyweight contender since its inception in 2007.  www.bandaproperty.co.uk /+44(0)20 7937 9600

14

Jonathan Hopper (Garrington) The well-respected Hopper has over 20 years experience in the business and now heads up Garrington as MD. Often seen authoritatively commenting in the broadsheets.  www.garrington.co.uk /+44(0)20 7099 2773

15

Henry Pryor (Henry Pryor) Pretty much the spokesman for the entire property industry, Pryor’s engaging tone and vast experience make him a dynamic frontman and a top notch buying agent to boot.  www.henrypryor.com /+44(0)20 7193 1599

16

Mark Parkinson (Middleton Advisors) Between them, the team at Middleton have acquired more than £400 million of country houses and estates for retained clients over the past 12 years and partner Parkinson is one of the key reasons for their success.  www.middletonadvisors.com /+44(0)1235 436277

17

Jeremy McGivern (Mercury Homesearch) The debonair McGivern has been a pillar of the buying agent community in London for over ten years. He recently worked out that he’s viewed at least 22,000 properties in PCL during that time, so there’s very little prime stock he hasn’t investigated at one stage or another.  www.mercuryhomesearch.com /+44(0)800 389 4280  

18

  Jonathan Haward (County Homesearch) Having built the most recognisable franchise in the sector from scratch, Haward nows has 20 offices under the County Homesearch name and remains a great innovator.  www.county-homesearch.co.uk /+44(0)845 5192606

19

  Jo Eccles (Sourcing Property) Another strong media presence, Eccles’ background in PR and investment banking has helped hone some formidable negotiating skills and a savvy marketing mind. One of the best connected agents in our rundown.  www.sourcingproperty.co.uk /+44(0)20 7244 4485

20

Nicola Lavictoire (Chesterton Humberts) Associate Director Lavictoire is the new head of Chesterton Humberts’ PRIME Property Search arm, which launched in October and is hotly tipped to become a major player in 2013.  www.chestertonhumberts.com /+44(0)20 3040 8240

 

High Bidders (A-Z)

 

Gabby Adler Gabby Adler www.gabbyadler.co.uk 
Karim Bazzi Homes One  www.homes-one.com
Sam and Dan Edington Edingtons  www.edingtons.co.uk 
Andrew Findley, Joe Nisbet, Tim Sharp, Max Storey Elite Property Search  www.elitepropertysearch.com
Geraldine Fort-Menasche Harcourt Properties www.harcourtproperties.co.uk
Naomi Heaton London Central Portfolio www.londoncentralportfolio.com
Oliver Hooper Huntly Hooper www.huntlyhooper.com
Xenia Howard-Johnston Howard-Johnston Consultancy Limited
Simon Khalil Khalil & Kane www.k-k.com
Nicola Oddy Stacks  www.stacks.co.uk
Karelia Scott-Daniels Manse & Garret Property Search www.manseandgarret.com
Caroline Takla     The Collection LLP  www.thecollectionllp.com
Ross Ward Pereds  www.pereds.com 
Mark Witzenfeld Huntsman Property www.huntsmanproperty.com
Sarah Van der Noot London Property Search www.property-search.com

 

The Interview:

Buying Agency’s #1 Prime Movers:

Charlie Ellingworth & Peter Mackie of Property Vision

Property Vision has had a very big year, reclaiming its independence from HSBC Private Bank in a management buy-out and – more importantly – having two partners named joint kingpins in our inaugural list of Buying Agency Prime Movers.

Charlie Ellingworth and Peter Mackie are the founding father and the managing partner respectively of Property Vision, one the UK’s original buying agencies. The company, which turns 30 next year, has been a talisman for the buying industry, sailing through busts, booms and recessions in a variety of structures, but maintaining a constant weather eye on delivering service above all else to clients.

Ampleforth and Oxford-educated entrepreneur, novelist, adventurer and philosophical blogger, Ellingworth is quite the Renaissance man: His WWII-set historical novel, Silent Night, was rather well received by Amazon reviewers and by the Author’s Club (although we haven’t quite gotten around to reading it yet – sorry); he’s sailed the Atlantic; renovated a Somerset farmhouse; spent four years working in Hong Kong; sits on the board of the Cadogan Estate, and even owns a microlight.

Property Vision has developed into one of the most recognisable brands in the business

From humble(ish) beginnings in 1983, when Ellingworth joined forces with old school chums Willie Gething and Rupert Bradstock to create a new kind of property company, servicing buyers, not vendors, Property Vision has developed into one of the most recognisable brands in the business. And it was the strength of the brand that played a key part in attracting HSBC to acquire the business in 2001.

11 years on, and the brand is still in-tact and stronger than ever as the business transitions smoothly (or that’s the way it looks from the outside) into its new fully independent incarnation.

Mackie’s 18-years with Property Vision make him, compared to Ellingworth, an ingénue at the firm. But he’s made his mark running the show and shares Ellingworth’s adventurer’s soul, which he slakes by bombing around on a motorbike across India, Africa and the like. Skipping university and starting out as an engineer, he continues to prize lateral thinking and has completed a whole bunch of Harvard and London Business School programmes – something he encourages all Property Visionaires to do.

I learnt a lot during my time at the bank; often more than I wanted to learn – and probably that I don’t want to be a banker!

October’s management buyout, which saw HSBC Private Bank sell 100% of the business to 13 partners led by Mackie and Ellingworth, seems to have been a remarkably amicable affair. The impetus for exit was all HSBC: the bank has made 36 disposals of “non-core operating assets” since 2011 as part of a restructuring programme. But there are no hard feelings: “I haven’t got a bad word to say about HSBC,” says Mackie. “I learnt a lot during my time at the bank; often more than I wanted to learn – and probably that I don’t want to be a banker!

“We are – and remain – very close to HSBC. We have an exclusive referral agreement with them that, I think, reflects the level of respect they have for us. We have a very strong relationship with them; we like them; we get on very well; we’ve sat within the business so we know them: there’s a lot of trust.”

If anything, there’s a sense of relief that the business is back under independent control. Quite apart from being free of FSA-regulation which, Mackie says, “became more and more difficult” under the HSBC umbrella, the firm’s new LLP structure is a more natural fit for a buying agency. “This is a business that is suited to being a limited liability partnership,” says Mackie; “the people who are advising clients should have an interest in the business and we have such a key team that it became a very sensible route forward.”

And independence was – once HSBC had made their decision to dispose – the only option for Mackie and Ellingworth. Hordes of finance offers poured in (Mackie has a list of “as long as his arm” of people who want to put money into the business), but he “made it quite clear at the start of the [buy-out] process that the business has to be independent going forward: that’s what our business has always been and it’s what clients want. To have a third party – either and investor or another company involved – that’s just not what we wanted. I [Mackie] held quite a strong line that this had to be a management buy-out and had to involve all of our key partners in the business.” All 13 who were invited to be partners took the plunge.

It’s very important that the partners own the business and that we didn’t become part of an estate agency

Ellingworth agrees, pointing out that a deal with another property company would create an inherent conflict of interest: “It’s very important that the partners own the business and that we didn’t become part of an estate agency: I’ve never thought that to be a credible vision as there is a conflict of interest that we don’t want to have… All the selling agents now have buying arms, but I’d say that our head-on competition is those people doing it themselves.”

Obviously the buy-out wasn’t all hugs and hobnobs; there were some tough decisions to be made, with six Property Visionaires, including Ed Heaton, being let go: “We had to make some really difficult decision,” says Mackie. “I reviewed and reviewed and reviewed the business, and just had to focus on a smaller business going forward: which bits made money, where we added value…”

It may be a smaller business, having lost HSBC’s infrastructure and global reach, but Ellingworth is confident that the international network that Property Vision has developed during it’s time with the bank will endure: “The main areas where HSBC was able to help us was in markets like Russia and the Middle East where, if you’re a small business, it’s difficult to penetrate. Once you have a foothold, however, you can exploit that.

“There is also the HSBC alumni around the world; people who have worked with us, like us and are very keen to refer clients.”

Even whilst in the bosom of the behemoth, Property Vision maintained a surprising amount of independence, retaining it’s own offices, board of directors and taking only 38% of clients from HSBC referrals (Ellingworth points out that “HSBC had very little to do with country clients”), all of which should make PV’s transition into its next chapter that little bit easier.

But Mackie and Ellingworth’s core values, that have served them (and their clients) so well for nearly 30 years, are unlikely to change in the slightest. Mackie: “We have always seen ourselves as a service business, not a property business. It’s all about providing the very best level of service, and the rest will follow.” Ellingworth: “The aim is to be able advise a client as you would like to be advised yourself.”

propertyvision.com

 

This is the inaugural, most contentious and possibly last Prime Movers rundown, although future editions are pencilled in to cover all areas of the prime property industry including estate agency, law, design and marketing. As always, Prime Mover rankings are based purely on rumour, subjective opinion and a few threats. Crofton & Associates has gracefully withdrawn from the running due to an inevitable conflict of interest.