EARLIER this month, Christie Residential celebrated its 20th anniversary. Since 2004 they have helped thousands of people buy, sell, and rent properties. The Chronicle sat down for a chat with founder Philip Christie to find out the secret behind the success of one of the longest-serving estate agents in Abergavenny.

“It’s no secret really,” confessed Philip. “Just good old-fashioned hard work. That, and having a great team around you. We have a pretty much old-school ethos here. We believe in honesty, transparency, and putting the right people in the right positions. You can’t put a square peg in a round hole and expect results!” 

 It’s this straightforward attitude that has seen Philip and his company survive a tumultuous two decades that have seen the property market hit by the global financial crisis of 2008, a series of recessions, and of course, a worldwide pandemic. 

Yet thanks to a never surrender and never die mentality, and an understanding of exactly what their clients want and need when it comes to buying, selling, or renting a property, Christie Residential is not just surviving, it’s thriving!

Buying a house is often said to be one of the most stressful events in a person’s entire life. However, a good estate agent can help guide you through the many pitfalls and hurdles and make the whole process a whole lot easier. And that’s something Christie Residential prides itself upon

“In theory, selling a house should be quite a simple process,” explained Philip.  “Finding a buyer can be pretty straightforward. It’s what comes after that is the hard part. Getting the deal through to completion can be tricky because there are so many variables that can change the dynamic of the whole process. That’s where we really come in to our own. Our job is to ensure the whole transaction is as painless and rewarding as possible.”

Philip added, “The stress involved in buying or selling a house can be caused by all manner of things. When there’s a chain of three or more parties involved, there can be a great deal of uncertainty involved and individuals are reliant on things going to plan. That doesn’t always happen. People change their minds about selling or buying or there’s a delay due to financial reasons. That’s when we help people weigh up all their options. You have to be very diplomatic but also quite forceful at times to ensure we keep all parties happy and get the deal done.”

As an estate agent who prides themselves on their old school ethos, Philip is not an advocate of using super enhanced photos or drone shots for all but a few properties to entice buyers. He revealed, “You have to be careful because photos that enhance a property beyond recognition can have a disappointing effect when the client comes to view it. We were the first estate agents in Abergavenny to offer floor plans as standard, but that serves a useful purpose. I don’t think having 30 or more pictures of a property or enhanced overhead drone footage works unless the property is either very special or surrounded by huge grounds. The primary job of property photos is to encourage the client through the front door and when that happens you want them to say, ‘It’s a lot nicer than I thought.’ And not, ‘It’s not as nice as I thought it would be judging from the pictures.”

Philip firmly believes that honesty is the best policy, even if it involves sometimes advising a client something they might not want to hear. 

“We study the market religiously, it’s our job, and although we appreciate everyone has an opinion and wants the best price possible for their house, sometimes the value some sellers insist for their property is just not realistic. We’re quite upfront about that with clients so they know what they can expect. What you see is what you get. We have no hidden agenda. Although we’re happy to recommend to our clients specialists in financial management and conveyancing, it’s not something we insist upon as our primary aim is to sell their house and achieve the best possible price as quickly and effectively as we can. 

Philip Christie
(Tindle News )

Building a long-term relationship with their clients is something that defines how Philip and his team operate. He explained, “We’ve got clients who came to us to get their first foot on the property ladder and then return years later because they’ve started a family and need a bigger house. It’s great to be part of that journey with them. Abergavenny’s a great town and it’s important for us to be involved in the community. When someone tasks you with selling their house or finding them their dream home, it’s a big responsibility. We tend to keep in touch with a lot of their clients because we’re forever bumping into them in the street, and in some cases, they even bring us cakes, which means an awful lot to the team I can tell you.” 

Reflecting on the last two decades, Philip mused, “The property market is in quite a healthy place at the moment. Interest rates appear to be stabilising and the Abergavenny area has become a sought-after location, but it hasn’t all been plain-sailing.

“During 2008/09 the market was in a pretty bad shape, and I had to let all my staff go. It was a one-man show for a while back then but I managed to hang on in there, and I’m pleased to say we’re still here, stronger than ever.”

Philip added, “The devil is always in the detail and Christie Residential’s small but close-knit team ensures that no part of the service they offer is overlooked or neglected. They’re the backbone of the business and without them, we wouldn’t be here. I'd like to thank them all, and everyone who has used our services over the last 20 years. It’s appreciated more than you’ll ever know.”