It is said that buying a home, no matter how high on the ladder you are, is one of the most stressful experiences that life has to offer. Selecting the agent that’s right for you is only the beginning, and finding the best match is key to minimising the worry. We catch up with Carol Prier, Director of Firefly Properties, to find out her secrets to success for sellers and buyers alike…
Give us a brief history of Firefly Properties, and tell us the company ethos
I started my career in estate agency in Paddock Wood in 1985, and in 2008 I launched Firefly Properties – during the depth of the recession!
At the time, we could not afford an office, and therefore set up working from home. My Sales Director took a part-time job at Maidstone Hospital, came to my house at 3pm every day, and we worked through till 9pm in the evening to launch the company.
We went from strength to strength with our 30 years’ of local knowledge, and now boast a team of nine staff with an office on Commercial Road in Paddock Wood.
The ethos of the company is understanding client needs and wants.
Having grown up in the East End of London in a retail environment, I soon learnt the art of good selling is to listen and to be proactive in your approach to achieving a synergistic goal between two parties. The internet cannot play the part of human connectivity – we deem ourselves a good ‘old-fashioned’ estate agency, but it works. Our unique selling point is that we have a tenacious attitude to finding the right buyer for your home, and we will be there every step of the way.
What makes Paddock Wood such an appealing place to buy a property?
Paddock Wood is now a town, but still has the warmth of a village. The community spirit is very strong and many of the residents are from East and South London, having spent their holidays here at the local hop farms.
The town is laid out so you can walk to the train station and shops from wherever you live. It is also only 50 minutes by train to London. For commuters, it is significantly cheaper to buy here rather than Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and Orpington. It’s an ideal location for families, too. Offering both primary schools and Mascalls Academy, you do not need to sit in the car chauffeuring your children around the whole morning.
Who are the typical buyers in the area?
Paddock Wood has a unique set of buyers whereby clients tend to upscale within the town, and the lower end of the market appeals to investment buyers with the station so close. With the influx of new builds for the future, and the regeneration of the town, the housing market will go from strength to strength. It is a delightful place to bring up children with plenty of activities and parks available.
There have been huge changes to the property market this year – increased stamp duty for investors, and Brexit. What has been the impact, and how have you adapted?
The impact has been as expected – a slowdown of buyers, particularly at the top end of the market, and apprehension in the middle market. The lower end is still holding with the cheaper mortgage rates, which appeal to first-time buyers.
As a company, we hold our own by selling a cross-section of all price levels to maintain stability.
Buying a house is considered one of the most stressful life events – how do you help your clients get through it successfully? What’s your secret?
That would be telling! Yes, it is stressful, and we say to all our clients that we are in training as counsellors.
The key ingredient is to have time for people, the listening approach is the most successful and we are experts at problem-solving.
What range of properties do you typically sell? And what’s your common price range?
We sell very successfully across the board in all price brackets. Many of our clients come through recommendations and their properties range from starter homes to elegant country properties.
What are the most common mistakes vendors make when trying to make a successful sale?
Coming to the market at the right time is important, and we encourage vendors to try and sell before setting their heart on their next perfect home.
What are the biggest challenges facing independent estate agents, and how do you overcome them?
We are currently experiencing a slow buying market. We have found that if you look after your serious buyer as a customer, your customer will look after you by becoming a vendor.
What are the benefits of using an independent estate agent?
We combine integrity and a personal approach, instead of sales targets, to win instructions. Our best advice will always be pertinent to each client’s needs. We think outside the box with our advertising and find the buyers from out of area by advertising in London media.
Describe Firefly Properties in five words
Passionate, tenacious, honest, flexible, successful!
173 Commercial Road