I started my first job at the age of 13 as a paperboy, in my home village in Devon… and I’ve been working ever since (which is quite a long time, as I’m the wrong side of 40).
Although I’ve been an estate agent for 13 years, in previous lives I’ve been a recruitment consultant, copywriter, business development manager, and in the early 2000’s I owned and ran a bar in Hackney with my wife, Theo (and we’re still together).
Theo and I live on the Isle of Dogs with our daughter Sia, and Frank the dog (a Maltese-Pug cross, or a ‘Mug’ as we call him).
When I’m not working I’ll be at home listening to music and eating, or somewhere else listening to music… and eating!
You may also find me and Frank around the Isle of Dogs on a morning run.
I’m late to realising that a holiday every now and again is a positive for the business as well as me, with notable past destinations being China, Japan, India, Cape Verde and Iceland.
Before we pop our clogs, Theo and I will be going on our very own road trip across America.
So, I’m Mrs Numbers here at Proper Local.
I make sure all the boring (but very important) stuff is looked after so Christian, my husband, is free to look after all our clients.
I’ve been in accounts in one form or another ever since I left school and have worked in the private sector in hospitality and retail, but more recently in the charitable sector too.
Alongside Proper Local I’m the Finance Manager and Company Secretary for Copenhagen Youth Project in King’s Cross, a charity which supports local young people and enhances their career prospects. It couldn’t be more different to the world of property.
Family life is what’s important to me outside of work (someone needs to be cooking all that food which Christian is eating!).
Being an East Londoner born and bred I’ll often be with my mum or sister who are also still in the area. I too can be found roaming the Isle of Dogs with our dog, Frank.
I can also be found at home, ears half-covered, with Christian blasting out his music.
We’re very much a family business and love what we do.
Hi, I’m Marija, and no that’s not a spelling mistake! (Just call me Maria.) I’m Latvian by birth but have been here in London since 2004.
Property Management is my thing and has been for years now. Prior to working with Proper Local I worked for other estate agencies, large and small.
Property Management isn’t everyone’s cup of tea as we only get to deal with problems! Whether that’s a small leak, a large one, faulty appliances or a broken lock, I look at my role as being a problem solver.
And that’s where my job satisfaction really kicks in.
When not speaking with contractors, tenants or landlords you’ll find me at home with the kids, baking, or walking the dog (dogs are very much a Proper Local thing).
And when the kids are in bed, I’ll have my feet up reading a good book, rather than getting stuck into a boxset on Netflix.
Despite being Latvian, I hate the cold and love the sun, so quite why I moved to England I’ll never know.
Why it pays to choose an independent estate agent
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Life is full of them.
There are everyday ones like what to have for dinner.
Or slightly bigger ones including which box set to start watching.
And there are the really big choices such as who to settle down with or which career to pursue.
And while deciding which estate agent to sell or rent your property is a big decision it’s certainly not life or death, but it will have an influence on how successful your move is, or how profitable your rental investment is.
Most people are moving home less frequently than ever (According to a 2017 Zoopla survey people in Tower Hamlets moved homes just once every 15.9 years) so it’s a crucial choice to make the right choice.
You have two main options when it comes to selling or renting your property.
There’s going down the route of selecting a corporate estate agency, which may have branches across London and the UK. Or you can instruct a local independent estate agency.
Yes, there’s also the online agency option but that’s something I’ll cover in a future article.
So, what are the differences between corporate versus independent?
Here are five reasons why I believe that choosing a local independent estate agency like Proper Local is the best choice for sellers and landlords.
- Local. I will only take on properties for sale or rent in the areas that I know well. Having lived in East London since 1999 I not only know the area, I love the area. I understand the different characteristics in neighbourhoods such as Canary Wharf, Whitechapel, Hackney, Wapping and Shoreditch. This isn’t always the case with larger agencies who move staff around regularly.
- Experience. I’ve been an estate agent for 15 years. I’ve also bought, sold and rented out property on several occasions, so I have experience on both sides of the property selling and letting fence. This familiarity means there’s hardly any issue or challenge I haven’t had to face and overcome on behalf of my clients. The approach of some corporate agencies is to send out an experienced employee to value the property but when instructed to market the property the transaction is handed over to a junior employee (or in some cases several different people.) This is often frustrating for vendors and landlords who feel passed from pillar to post.
- Personal. I genuinely believe in providing great personal service to my clients. Selling or letting a property isn’t a job to me, it’s my business and what I love to do. Far from being a number on a spreadsheet as is the case with some corporates (I’ve worked in that sector, so I know) each sale or rental I take on matters to me. And when people instruct Proper Local they are guaranteed that I’ll be with them every step of the way from the initial accurate valuation, marketing the property, accompanying viewers, negotiating offers, chasing solicitors and everything else along the road to a successful completion or tenancy . I guarantee that and I’ve never come across a corporate agency that can offer the same level of total personal commitment.
- Communication. I’ve always believed honesty is the best policy. And that’s why I always give my honest opinion to clients even when it can be difficult to hear. I’ll never overvalue a property to get the instruction. In the long run it damages the vendors’ or landlords’ chances of getting a successful outcome. Through regular, honest feedback from viewings my clients get a picture of what potential buyers or tenants like or loathe about their property and this puts us in a position to act upon that to ensure a sale or rental is made at the best possible price. All clients have my personal mobile and there’s no such thing as office hours with me, I’m there when you need me, not when it suits me.
- Marketing. Here’s where I need to bust a big myth. Many people believe that because corporates are big they have more marketing muscle. That’s not the case. The property portals Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location have levelled this playing field. They drive buyers to properties not individual agencies. So, if your property was listed with us it would be on Rightmove and therefore have as much chance as being seen and a viewing requested, as it would be if it were on with one of the corporate agencies. All our properties are professionally photographed, with detailed floor plans and marketed across the main property portals.
There are several more reasons why I believe choosing an independent estate agency over a corporate is in a vendor’s or landlord’s best interests. But I hope I’ve given you some food for thought.
In short, if you’re looking for someone to sell or rent your property who has local expertise, extensive industry knowledge, a personal service guarantee and is an honest and open communicator with great marketing skills I feel my independent agency could be the best choice for you.
Our Awards & Accreditations
As a property seller or landlord, you might roll your eyes and think ‘so what?’ when an estate agent mentions their accreditations and awards.
But this stuff matters and is often the difference between good and bad agencies.
The consistent positive feedback we receive from our clients has led to us being given the Gold Trusted Service Award from Feefo.
Feefo is an independent website which collects genuine feedback from clients about their experiences with business. Our current Feefo rating is 5.0 out of 5.0.
We have no influence over it, but we feel it’s a great way of showing people we care about what we do, we’re good at it and that our sellers, buyers, tenants and landlords feel the same.
And we’re also proud to have been recognised by the Best Estate Agent Guide 2019 & 2021 as Excellent for our lettings service.
We are one of only a few East London estate agents who have signed up voluntarily for the Client Money Protect (CMP) scheme which protects our clients’ money.
Whether you are a tenant or a landlord our CMP membership means you can have complete peace of mind when you work with us.
If you chose an agency who wasn’t a CMP member and they went bankrupt or AWOL (it happens) you could potentially lose your deposit and any other monies the agency is holding on your behalf.
We’re also signed up to The Property Ombudsman (TPO) this means we are committed to abide by its Code of Practice which ensures high professional standards among members.
We are also signed up to the Trading Standards Institute Code of Conduct.
Accreditations are a great way for us to show our clients that we take what we do seriously.
And winning awards are external proof that we don’t simply make promises we deliver on them.