The Last Word with…..

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Simon Ashwell, Head of Office, Savills Weybridge

Describe your property career to date.

I have just over 28 years experience working in two top end estate agencies. I have spent the last 13 years with Savills covering Weybridge, Walton on Thames and the surrounding towns and villages.

What do you enjoy most about your job and what have been the highlights?
I am sure every agent will tell you that every day is different. I love to be busy and on the go and estate agency definitely requires people who have plenty of enthusiasm and energy. I still love doing a deal. I get as excited now as I did when I sold my first house.

Describe the biggest challenges.

Estate agents are a bit like farmers, there’s always something creating a challenge, such as the weather being too good or too bad!  At the moment, taxation, interest rates and political uncertainty are all impacting the market – and stamp duty for high value homes is also a factor. As ever, realistically priced homes are continuing to transact across all price bands and we have done some good deals this year for all types of property.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in estate agency?

It is important to work hard and give your all every day. You need drive and determination and to have a glass-half-full person. Often its about analysing a buyer’s requirements and listening to their needs to help them find their dream home. Estate agency is an industry built on relationships and if you are a people person and driven to succeed this could be the sector for you.

What advice do you have for homebuyers in the current market?

Although uncertainty will continue to play into buyer sentiment, personally I have confidence in the market. If a buyer has found the right home for them, then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t proceed. Today’s buyer is often looking for high quality stock for sale and, with homes that meet this criteria, they have every chance of finding what they want.

What sets Surrey apart?

Weybridge and the surrounding towns are the perfect mix of town and country. They are often viewed as some of the most exclusive residential areas in the commuter belt.

A cluster of smart towns, each provides excellent rail and road links to the capital and beyond, highly rated primary and secondary schooling as well as open countryside on the doorstep, making them well-rounded places to live. The local property landscape is diverse, spanning ultra-modern mansions within the gated private estates of St George’s Hill and the Crown Estate to country cottages, period terraces, traditional family homes, elegant new-build townhouses and contemporary apartments.

What do you think lies ahead for the Surrey market?

We expect to see continued interest from international families wanting a home in the UK. In the last month I have  been talking to buyers from right across the world who are all looking to move. Elmbridge remains a popular choice for these buyers due to the educational opportunities with many leading schools nearby. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, people are still looking for homes in London and beyond. London families will always move out to this part of Surrey so I expect demand for family-focused houses to remain strong.

Recent highs, recent lows?

High – repeat business is always gratifying as I love seeing people move through the different stages of their life; selling two houses for families who bought from me over ten years ago was a definite high.

Low – getting a parking ticket when I forgot to move my car off a double yellow. I’d only popped into the local newsagent to buy a New Home card for one of our clients, so it was a shame to find a ticket. Visiting them in their new home after a long process of finding them the right house was in fact a high.

What is your top location south of the river?

I love Brooklands which is the old race track. There is a fabulous museum which is home to some amazing cars and planes including Concorde. Also on the site is Mercedes Benz World with driving experiences and a permanent exhibition.

If you were not an estate agent, what career would you choose and why?

Before I dived into the property world I trained as a chef and worked in many of the top London hotels. So I would love to have a roses round the door pub with a fantastic restaurant attached. Food, people and good wine – the perfect combination.

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