We chat with Hannah Aykroyd, Founder & MD of Aykroyd & Co. Hannah and her team advise high net worth private clients on Prime London real estate transactions.
How did you get into the world of property and why?
I originally wanted to be a lawyer, and I actually completed my law degree. However, fate intervened when I took a role with a property company as work experience during my degree and fell in love with all things property. After I completed my degree I went into property – originally on the selling side – and I’ve never looked back. I feel really lucky to have such a passion for what I do. Even though I often work long hours, I sometimes feel I’ve never done a proper day’s work in my life!
Who are Aykroyd and Co?
I’m the Founder and MD of the eponymous Aykroyd & Co. We’re a residential property buying firm focusing on Ultra-Prime and Prime Central London. The ‘Co’ includes my colleague Sophie Bonsor, who was with me at VanHan, Edward Towers RICS, and our dedicated administrative support. My UHNW clients tend to be shopping in the £10 million++ bracket, while Sophie and Edward work from £1 million up.
What led you to leave VanHan and set up Aykroyd and Co?
VanHan was wound down in February 2018 when VanHan’s MDs were poached by Knight Frank to set up the Private Office there. I had always wanted to found my own boutique agency to offer a very intensive, personalised and discreet service to UHNW clients from the UK and abroad. This gave me an excellent opportunity to do so.
What is different about your agency?
We offer an extremely intensive service extremely focused on clients. For an average client search, we speak extensively with clients about what they want now and in ten years – asking them questions they often haven’t thought about. Then we focus on uncovering off-market properties, preview 40-50 properties, and do extensive research on the properties and general area before our client even has a first viewing. This is time-consuming for us but ensures our clients’ time is used most effectively. Once a property is found, we negotiate using appropriate comparables, ensure a smooth closing, and offer exceptional aftercare including advice on designers and builders. Our goal is always to build a long-term relationship with clients. We have a real passion for protecting and advising our clients correctly.
In what ways has the Prime Central London property market changed since you started working in it?
I have experienced recent highs and lows with the crash of 2008 (but v quick and unexpected bounce back for PCL), peak of summer 2014 and a decline since then… not helped by the Government’s focus on taxes! Prices have come off so you can no longer rely on a rising market to future proof your asset. Buying a best-in-class property at the best possible price offers protection in an uncertain market, but these properties are scarce, and often never even come to the open market. Buying agents are able to source these properties, help negotiate selling prices using comparables, and advise against pitfalls. Buying smart is more critical than ever, and a long-term view is required to mitigate significant SDLT outlay.
What benefits are there to having a Property Advisor?
Why should people look to work with Property Advisors, as opposed to just working with estate agents? Quite simply, the estate agents represent the seller’s interests. We as Buying agents represent the buyer’s interests. We also have the ability to access off market properties well before others, the ability to cut through pricing, providing relevant comps and analytics. At Aykroyd & Co we are seasoned negotiators with an objective view and a strong track record, known for having committed clients behind us.
What are your projections for 2019?
It is hard to predict with Brexit negotiations being so unstable. However, when speaking to clients and potential clients who are based elsewhere in the world, they feel that Brexit is a very small blip in comparison to what is going on at home. I think it’s very important to remember this, and to have faith in all the strengths that make London one of the world’s leading cities to live and work in.
For more information visit: www.aykroydco.com