Camilla Dell (pictured), chief executive officer, founded her property buying agency Black Brick back in 2007.
Camilla Dell (pictured), chief executive officer, founded her property buying agency Black Brick back in 2007. “I wanted to create a firm that was completely independent” she explains, “not owned by an estate agent or a private bank. It’s one of our key strengths and unique selling points.”
High levels of service and professionalism were also important to her. “My industry suffers from small one or two man bands with people sort of playing at it – that’s not what I set out to do – I wanted to take things to the next level and we set the bar higher and higher every year” Dell says.
In financial terms, since 2007, Black Brick has successfully secured in excess of GBP0.6 billion in residential property for its clients. Originally all the business came from an international client base but now the mix of clients is more balanced with 60 per cent of them coming from overseas (from 35 countries) and 40 per cent from the UK.
“It’s changed to that degree” Dell says, “and shows our services are needed just as much for people who live and work in London and are struggling to find the property they want.”
“There is no typical client” Dell says. “They range from the lower end, who are seeking to buy a house for half a million all the way up to GBP50 million and everything in between. One of the nice things about Black Brick is that we are not pigeonholed – we cover huge areas of London from Hackney in the East to the North London suburbs, down to Battersea and Clapham and out to the West. It’s not just high end central London.”
The firm became market leaders in educating private banks that they need to use a buying agent. “If the private bank finds out that their clients want to buy a property, they can see value in using a buying agent” Dell says.
Black Brick is on the panel of a number of private banks who recommend their services to their clients. “Our principal role is to ensure our client gets the possible deal they can” Dell says. The firm does not directly sell but offers a managed sale service to help facilitate the sale of a property, often educating foreign investors on how the system works in the UK.
Black Brick also offers a complimentary concierge service, helping buyers move in to their new property, hooking up utilities, internet and advising on removals.
In a conscious decision to evolve, the firm also now offers other key services such as a vacant care service for houses left empty for a period of time and a housekeeping service to reopen them again when they are needed.
Post completion for houses that have been bought to let, Black Brick can also manage a house acting as a managing agent.
Due to the fast-growing Chinese client base, Grace Ding joined Black Brick in December 2014 to focus on this and developing the business network across Asia. Grace speaks fluent Mandarin and holds an advanced diploma in translating and interpreting, making her the perfect point of contact for all the firm’s Chinese-speaking clients. Dell says: “With Grace’s arrival, we are now better placed than ever to fulfil the UK property ambitions of our Chinese clients.”