Smith cannot switch off from his fascination with property transactions and designs, so much so that he spends his spare time watching Grand Designs and Restoration Man, much to his wife’s chagrin, he says.
Smith has over thirteen years’ experience in both the UK and international markets. From a career in Claridges’ concierge services to selling at Hamptons and being headhunted to become Emaar Malls Group’s leasing manager in Dubai, he has had a varied career before deciding to specialise as a buying agent. It was the result of meeting and befriending Caroline Takla, the firm’s founder, over fourteen years ago: ‘She was my mentor.’ Having held positions in London property firms like Hamptons International and Townends, he joined The Collection in 2014 as an associate partner and swiftly moved up the ranks within a year and was made partner in 2015, having made ‘invaluable contributions that have positively impacted the business’ with his leadership skills, one peer enthuses.
The year has been slow at the start, he says, with the property market still reeling from the stamp duty hike. Despite the lull, Smith had seen interest from investors as the realistic valuation of properties made the stock more affordable: ‘Sellers were potentially more inclined to give a discount on the property as well. We had a lot of clients that were looking back on the recession time, that came back again and decided to invest in the London market as it was a good opportunity to get a bargain.’
The affable adviser says the most challenging aspect of the year so far is explaining to clients that post-Brexit, the stock level has decreased despite the ongoing demand for prime central properties: ‘The supply hasn’t been there – when you’ve found a good property, you’re not the only person who’s found it as well – there are other people bidding on it.’ ‘[It’s challenging to] educate new clients that the London market is not in free fall as everyone thought it would be, or was going to be, because there’s a real lack of stock. Where we deal in central London, a lot of the sellers don’t need to sell, so they’ve taken [the properties] off the market’’
His most memorable moment was a terrifying, as he recounts being trapped in a lift, nauseous with pneumonia related sickness with a heavily pregnant client, her worried husband and their toddler. To make matters worse, she then started to have contractions: ‘We had the wife on the floor, the child started crying but then we got Peppa Pig on the phone going.’
A prime central London specialist that is one of the UK’s top 25 buying consultancies, The Collection has recently completed over £650 million worth of acquisitions spanning residential, retail and commercial since its inception in 2009. In addition to sourcing services, the firm also provides property solutions encompassing all prime central London requirements, from property development, concierge and aftercare, to managed sales should there be a need for it. With over 50 years’ collective experience in the industry, the firm caters to HNW clients from over 41 countries, including business leaders, Bollywood heroes, footballers and royalty