This on the face of it was a timely initiative. My partner was a guy who had set up a successful property auction business, and we had talked at length and came up with this notion. We set up an office in the London Docklands.
Each High Street in the UK had a row of estate agency offices that all looked the same and offered a similar service, only the personalities or ethics were different. The idea was to offer one of these in each town the opportunity simply to offer overseas properties for sale. This was greatly assisted by the outrageous percentages charged in France, Portugal and Spain by local agents there, they had more than enough to afford a good intro-commission to the English agent that effected an introduction.
|ASIDE – Taking a stand at the MIPIM event in Cannes offered me a real opportunity to get to know my future French son-in-law. We took a stand and I asked my daughter (living in France) and her French boyfriend to help me out on the stand – to deal with any French-speaking clients. I drove a van down with our exhibition material. At the end my daughter had to work the next day so returned on the train back to Paris, but Laurent drove back through the night with me. We sang much of the way making up ludicrous Blues and Country & Western lines – I would sing ‘I lost my baby’ and he would add ‘and the dog’ – I guess you had to be there!|
I focussed on how the multi-list would be presented and the contracts needed with the parties to make sure this did not descend into anarchy. I wrote guides for each country’s property scene and the local rules & reg’s. It was my partner who was supposed to obtain the European properties for listing. I delivered on my tasks, but in the end he failed to get a single European property for us to list.
Worse, I found out later that he had forged my signature for a loan of which I had no knowledge. It purported to have been signed at a place in East Anglia that I had never visited and my signature was not a very good forgery. But the real piece of good luck for me was that he had dated it on Jane’s 40th birthday, we had held a big party and I could categorically prove I was in Bedford all that day. Yet another salutary lesson on partners.