Despite a tough market, Black Brick had a standout year in 2016-17. Purchases of houses costing £55 million and £37 million contributed to a total of £129 million of property acquired for Black Brick’s clients in that financial year, compared with £47 million the previous year. Founder Camilla Dell, whose firm celebrated its tenth birthday in 2017, states: ‘We’re pretty dominant.’ And the industry agrees: it awarded Black Brick the Gold Award for Best Buying Agent for the third year running at the Estate Agency of the Year Awards in 2016. Dell puts the firm’s success in large part down to its expansion into areas outside prime central London, which are now promising better capital appreciation and higher rental yields. ‘We’ve bought properties in excess of 20 postcodes in the last year,’ she says. With the rises in stamp duty, advice is being sought more than ever. ‘The cost of getting it wrong is huge,’ says Dell. She notes that tough market conditions have taken out smaller buying agents over the past two years, benefiting firms like Black Brick. ‘We are using it as an opportunity to get market share,’ says Dell. ‘In 2017, on average, we have saved our clients £540,000, the equivalent of 8 per cent from asking prices, and 15 per cent of properties have been sourced off-market.’ Clients love her determination and empathy. ‘Camilla instinctively recognises a client’s needs and will not stop until those are satisfied,’ says one.