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The state of the market and Livingroom’s place in it: A CEO’s insights and observations

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

As the Channel Island estate agent, Livingroom always has its finger on the pulse in terms of how the housing market is developing across Guernsey and Jersey, and the external forces that alter the market and see the company evolve to meet demand. Simon Torode, Founder, CEO, Livingroom Property, looks at Channel Island market conditions in this insightful article.


No slowing down for Livingroom in Guernsey

Despite a tumultuous past two years for everyone in the industry, Livingroom continues to perform exceptionally well for our clients in Guernsey. I put this success down to our focus on delivering quality, approachable service and our unique marketing and design ethos.

I believe that results speak louder than words, which is why I am delighted to share that, in April, Livingroom sold 30.91% of all transacted property within the island’s residential sector. We sold seven of the top 20 properties on the island, totalling £11,731,687, or 35% of the top 20 sales.

Notable sales in April ranged from a £350,000 property in Charroterie Mills, to the most valuable Open Market property transacted, which we discreetly sold at £4,338,750 without being advertised on our website. We also sold four other notable properties over £1m, demonstrating our reputation and expertise in this sector.

Equally excellent returns in an altogether different island market

I am equally pleased with our performance in Jersey. Despite limited stock, we are seeing huge levels of traffic and are quickly forging a powerful market share and leaving our distinctive mark on Jersey’s property industry.

What I’ve found most interesting is the difference in lettings between the islands. Guernsey has languished for some time with low investor yields, until recently, as rental figures have risen. By contrast, Jersey has seen consistently more buoyant rental figures.

There could be a number of factors at play here, but one that certainly seems to make an impact is that Jersey has openly cultivated quality rental stock. You simply never hear the comment, “don’t worry, it’s only a rental” in Jersey. Vintage avocado bathroom suites and threadbare carpets are simply not seen. There is genuine purpose to the sector and landlords think very differently and are rewarded with excellent returns on investments for doing so.

I see enormous potential for growth in Guernsey based on the Jersey rental market. Wise, future-facing investors can invest in a sector that can be delivered to a more internationally minded clientele focused on delivering quality property for high returns. I will be watching closely and with great interest how this develops over the next few years.


Interest rates rise to 1% in the UK and companies embrace a scaled back approach

There may be concern by the recent news that interest rates will rise to 1%, which made national headlines in early May. What the outcome will mean in terms of the effect on the Channel Islands is yet to be seen, and even UK buyers may not notice the rise immediately, due to the prevalence of fixed term mortgages. Historically, our insulated environments have been relatively robust to external influence but as the world becomes smaller and more intrinsically linked, I will be keeping a close eye on these developments.


Evolution & understanding brand identity

One of my greatest joys outside of property, is to keep up with global business trends. I consider it a major reason for the company’s rapid growth since 2006. I’ve noticed a particular interest in scaling back product and service offerings. Mini is set to release a smaller model electric car in 2023, a stunning work reminiscent of Issigonis’ original design, while Nokia is going back to the past with a variation on the classic 3310 mobile phone. Both businesses reflect a new modus operandi of stripping their offering back to its purest form.

How does this scaled back design philosophy relate to Livingroom and the property we represent? Simply put, we have sensitively scaled back some of our approaches to marketing, reducing our output on both social and traditional media. Instead, we’ve been working more intently behind the scenes with proven buyers and sellers, piecing together property that is never publicly seen. This echoes the way I have worked for over 20 years, and it’s a philosophy that Livingroom is actively embracing across the board. The greatest challenge in the Channel Islands is discretion when so many eyes and ears are drawn to our industry, but Livingroom is proof that it is possible – selling some of the islands’ finest homes without any knowledge to the outside world.

You may have noticed that we have removed the ability to comment on properties added to our Facebook pages. For a brand that pioneered local advertising on social media, I’m sure this may seem antithetical to our ideals. In an ideal world, we’d welcome engagement with such posts, but some have become the sites of personal attacks on our clients, which we will not allow. Such attacks instil anxiety within our clients, and the brand has thus decided to let the posts speak for themselves, while keeping other avenues of communication readily available for those who may show genuine interest in them. It is safe to say that Facebook is a very different medium from when we started using it in 2006. Times change and our promise to you is to change with them.

While you will still see properties on our social media pages, articles from us in relevant publications, and advertisements where appropriate, we are focusing much more on the behind-the-scenes work, delivering unmatched client interactions as our first priority. This also allows us to deliver smarter, more considered marketing strategies that are focused on showing what we do as a brand, and why we do it better.


Unmatched service, the Livingroom way

We don’t follow the herd at Livingroom, it’s just not in our DNA. Through this evolution in our business philosophy, I know that we continue to cater to our clients’ needs effectively, while delivering smart marketing campaigns that work.

Through our consistent approach to selling property, we have broken records and increased market share year-on-year. As such, we’re sending a clear message to our vendors: you are our top priority and will always be looked after, with your needs prioritised. Our promise is to go above and beyond our competitors and go into the finer detail that only we understand. Trust in our experience and know that the market has changed so exponentially – we can guide you with our knowledge.


Quietly confidential matchmakers

As I have stated earlier, the best way to ensure you do not miss out is to be registered with us at www.livingroomproperty.com. Don’t rely on seeing a public listing as some properties never reach the website. Register today and let us work closely with you as our team of experts help you achieve your property goals.

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