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This week, to kick start XChange’s new blog series, I sat down with Sanjay, the director at Vine Estates. Vine Estates is an independent agency operating in Central and Greater London. Sanjay began his career in Accounting and Finance but soon realised that it wasn’t for him. Sanjay pivoted to real estate in 2007, proving that hard work and self-motivation are everything in this industry. 10+ years on and he founded Vine Estates. This is his story:
So Sanjay, why did you pick real estate as a career, and how did it all start for you?
I got into real estate in 2007. Before this, I was studying accounting, but soon realised it wasn’t the path for me. I decided to take a real estate training program and got a job at a local estate agency. I learnt more about the trade and I started Vine Estates in 2013. It started as a virtual agency but we have opened up a physical location earlier this year in Heathside.
As a director, what do you believe is your edge in the industry?
Being a BTL investor myself, the experience of working in the industry has given me the insight to be an agency owner and a director. Within my circle of family and friends, with my experience, I tend to be the go-to for advice. The information is out there, for buyers that don’t have any real estate experience but it can be a bit of a minefield. This puts me in a good position to guide my vendors to make the right decisions for the pricing of their properties.
With the current pandemic, we’ve all had to change things. How have you been adapting to the necessary changes in the viewing process?
Usually, for us at Vine Estates, it’s about figuring things out as they come along. One of the biggest changes we’ve made is that we make sure all our properties have virtual tours. We’ve taken video walkthroughs as well as created 3D matterport. We’ve been actively pushing our customers to view the videos first before requesting a viewing. This allows us to prequalify our applicants. There is a disconnect, where applicants are still hesitant to see the value of the video tours. Which can be challenging.
And with something new popping up every other week, how do you keep up with the changes in the industry?
Myself, I enjoy listening to podcasts and am a part of forums where I can learn and hear what other industry leaders are discussing. At the end of the day though it all comes down to how ready you are to make those changes work for your agency.
With just over a month left till the end of the year, what are you looking forward to in the new year?
I’m personally, looking to get over this part and to move past the pandemic. This year has been quieter for us and we haven’t been able to get our teeth into things, which is unfortunate because we do now have a physical branch. Overall though, we’re moving more towards a fully digital customer journey with digital offers and contracts. We were already well equipped to work online, so this pandemic hasn’t been difficult for us.
And as a final kind of look into the future, what do you think will change for agencies in 2021?
I think the biggest change will be people’s aversion to videos. This industry has moved into the video realm and it needs to firmly adopt that. It helps us manage our time and ensure that those physically viewing the properties are serious buyers or tenants. Don’t get me wrong, videos won’t take our role away, it makes the entire process cleaner for all of us. At the end of the day, people still want to meet people before making a big decision like this. That, and social media. We’ve been hearing for years that social media is a must and most of us have adapted to that, however, this pandemic was a further push to ensure that everyone has their social media strategy ready to go. This pandemic has been a great time to try new things and see what works and hasn’t worked.
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