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This week I spoke to Sushel Miah, the Director at JS estate agents. He’s been in the industry for 10 years and started off as a junior negotiator and swiftly moving his way up to managing director of JS estate agents. With a passion for football and real estate, we spoke about his journey in the industry and his successes at JS estate agents. Here is his story:
Can you start by telling me a little bit about why and how you got into real estate?
At a young age I dropped out of college and I tried to get into the banking industry and did that for about a year. That was when I was 17. And I didn’t really like it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and was very confused because I had a lot of ambition and dreams.
I think everyone at that time wanted to be a footballer, I used to love football. I was really good. I wanted to have a breakthrough, but it didn’t quite work out like that.
I then got involved in my family businesses. They used to have restaurants and things like that and I moved around a bit, just to find something that would make me happy. It was when I was about 20 years old that my sister introduced me to the property market. She was working for a service firm with just two properties. My brother had a lot of properties for himself, so property is something that has always been around, I just hadn’t paid enough attention to it.
I started by asking my sister, how the property market was? And she thought I would be really good at it. I spoke to my brother and asked him to introduce me to someone. My brother’s family friend was an owner of an estate agency and he invited me for a chat, this office which was in Hackney. He let me down unfortunately because for him he didn’t have the time to train me.
I don’t take rejection very well. Something moved in me and I was very motivated to go and get a job. But I was twenty years old with no experience. So one day I put on a suit and tie, I printed out my CV and set out. I dropped my resume and introduced myself to agencies within a 2 mile radius from my house, as many as I could, I dropped by at at least 30 agencies. Fortunately for me, there was this agency who called later in the day and wanted to talk. He was a one-man band and had just started up. He was very upfront and told me, I can’t afford to pay but I can teach you. And I went with it because I wanted to prove that I could do it, and at this point I just needed to learn.
That’s where I learnt the basics and after a couple of months, I wanted to go further so I started searching again and I had an interview with a company called Home Finders.
So I went for an interview there, I told them, listen, I’m new but I know the basics and I’m willing to work hard. Fortunately for me, he gave me the job and that is where my career started.
I got much more exposure and reach and that’s where I learnt all the tricks of the trade. I was there for 2 years and I got headhunted at City Quays in the Canada Water area. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. After I joined, I was there for a while, they’re a fantastic agency and in 2018 they rebranded to JS & Co. They were doing really well and due to my performance, they offered me shares in the company in 2018, which was awesome. A few months later, the director sold the company to me.
So for the past 2 years I’ve been running the agency since then. It’s been ten years since I found real estate. This is one of the industry’s that I love and I can’t see myself doing anything else.
Were you primarily in lettings or in sales?
I was doing lettings for 8 years. I was in sales for a while but in the beginning, it felt too long-winded for me. But then I started to get into sales. So now I’m more well-rounded.
How was last year for you, and how did you adapt?
When it first came down, I was worried. But after the lockdown and because we were working from home. But once we came back to the office, our sales went up by three hundred percent. It was easier than it’s ever been and all of last year was actually really, really busy for us.
The difficultly was more because tenants were not paying or being furloughed which affected our management. But then again, our vendors were really, really understanding and we got over that. I think the lettings market took a hit because we weren’t getting the same level of rentals that we were used to.
My team did a fantastic job dealing with everything and professionally and with their health. We all took the necessary precautions, and no one had a COVID scare.
Is there anything that you hope to see permanently change within the industry this year, something that you know should firmly be left behind?
I think most people are trying to develop virtual tools but for us we had started doing this from last year. And this is a great way to qualify your applicants and ensure that those coming actually want to see the property. That they are serious.
We’ve actually started to make sure that people had a mortgage approved in principle and asking for proof of funds beforehand. This helps us ensure that we are showing the right properties and we’re also minimizing the risk of infection. Our main goal is to make sure our clients, vendors, landlords, tenants are all safe and sound.
Of course. Have you had a lot of pushback because of that?
To be honest, people were surprised, but it didn’t really stop things for us. And simply if they can’t and don’t want to that’s fine, we’re looking for very serious buyers and keeping the safety of my team and my clients at the top of the list.
And how do you see this year progressing?
With the rental market, I think there will definitely be high. I think it is going to improve because of the flood of people coming back to the UK.
In terms of the sales, I would say it would take about 10 to 20 per cent hit. I think mortgage is going to be impossible to get. With anyone that’s been furloughed, I believe mortgage companies would find a reason not to give them a mortgage.
If there was one thing that you could change within the real estate industry, what would that be?
The one thing I think would be is that I would want the government to help the real estate agencies more. They’ve kind of cut down a lot of avenues for us. The government has been making it harder and harder for our vendors which disincentives them to join the market. Agents are restricting their fees because of the loss of income and that will come from the vendor.
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