I’d Get Less For Murder….20 years in estate agency

Born and raised in Cornwall, I began my career in Bodmin as a trainee negotiator in 1993, sticking colour photographs of houses onto sets of property particulars that had been written using a typewriter. Thinking about that makes me feel old, I didn’t even have a mobile phone back then – they were just for yuppies. I worked for Black Horse Agencies, and was involved in selling everything from park homes  (a £12,000 caravan!!), to large country estates, specialising in properties across Bodmin’s famous moors. One of my most memorable sales was the iconic Tregaddick House which was built as a summer residence for Sir Warwick Morshead in 1886. It was a derelict and very eerie building. My boss at the time told me that a previous owner had drowned in the river at the back of the house after getting drunk on Cornish cider, having slid down the steep bank to his watery demise.  Being the trainee, I was sent out to show it to every Tom, Dick and Harry that fancied a nose, and I must have done well over 100 viewings on this place, many of them on wet & miserable winter evenings. It’s somewhat disconcerting to be stood on Bodmin Moor outside a derelict manor house in the dark, and I’m only pleased that I hadn’t acquainted myself with Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn at that stage of my life……I’m sure the vicar of Altarnun didn’t really exist……did he?

With five years of experience under my belt, I decided that the bright lights beckoned, as I couldn’t possibly quench my thirsty ambitions in sleepy Cornwall. So I relocated to Guildford, which although not perhaps the bright lights  that some of you know, were bright enough for a Cornish lad, and it was only four hours away from a proper pasty, so I was happy!  After 15 years in Guildford I think I now qualify for dual nationality!  A brief stint in Godalming, working again for Black Horse Agencies (no caravans there though!) was followed by three years in their Guildford office, and a year managing the Merrow branch. However, it was at Burns & Webber that I would meet my future business partner, Anthony Brown. After a couple of years there, we went on to set up and grow a very successful department selling town houses and country cottages for Savills. With that achievement in the bag, we, along with fellow Director Kate Basson, were able to fulfill our lifelong ambition of setting up our own estate agency: Chantries was born!

So, this is where the hard work started. Opening an estate agency 2 years into the worst housing recession since the 1920s – brave or stupid? I’ll let you decide. However, my view is this – if you can set up and survive in these conditions then you go a long way to proving to your clients, and yourself, that you’re not bad at what you do. Anyone can be an estate agent when the good times roll, but can the same be said when the bubble bursts?

You learn an awful lot about yourself when setting up a business. I found out that I was a fan of hard liquor and anti-aging cream, and whilst the share price of certain distilleries in the Highlands have rocketed, there is nothing quite like owning your own business.

I have also learnt that the good people of Surrey do like to back their local and independent businesses, which has been a huge part of our success, so if you’re one of these and reading this post – thank you. Having worked on both sides of the equation I can honestly say that you get more value for your money by engaging local independent businesses, because it matters more to them. Call me at 8pm and the chances are I’ll answer my phone, email me at 10pm and, much to the frustration of my nearest & dearest, I am likely to respond, and it’s that level of dedication that can make a difference to those who use our services.

So, with nearly four years under our belt, what does the future hold? With the past few years being a real rollercoaster for the entire economy, it’s not easy to predict but we’re determined to be here serving the good people of West Surrey for many years to come.

If you are thinking of moving, or require any property advice, contact me on 01483 405222, or cdean@chantries.net (ideally before 6pm please!)

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Woodlands Park, Guildford, Surrey

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Guide price £1,250,000

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