The stately Soning has refreshing candour and experience that is matched by very few in the real estate world, having lived and breathed the industry for over 57 years.
Soning’s career was a popular choice for youth post-war as property was slowly ‘re-emerging after the austerity times’, fifteen years after World War II. ‘The commercial and residential property, since the last war, has beaten all indices — stock market, gold, silver,bonds — the only thing it hasn’t beaten is Ferraris,’ he jokes.
All was well until the 1974 financial crash, which eventually led to him founding James Andrew International, now around for almost 42 years. The firm offers commercial sourcing as well as property management to a range of investors, from private clients to conglomerates, some of which have been with Soning for over 40 years.
Having seen the industry recover from several crises in the past, the ‘Brexit earthquake’, he believes, is not ominous: ‘All the uncertainty history has shown, under real estate, is a safe, safe haven. I think it will become a safer haven.’
From opening post twice a day in his early years to receiving iPhone messages every other second of the day, a lot has changed from Soning’s perspective.
‘You are connected 24 hours and expected by your clients to be available 24 hours and do the business 24 hours,’ says Soning.
When asked what has made his firm weather the rapidly changing industry, he says: ‘The personal touch and the experience, the forty-two years, and in my case, over a half of a century being in the international property scene.’