Unique Living
February 22nd, 2019 | by Serge Cowan

How My Property Business, Writing and DJing All Come Together

If you’re thinking about buying an overseas luxury property, you need someone with the passion and the knowledge of international markets to guide you. My experience taking buyers through the purchasing process all over the world gives me an edge unmatched by anyone in my industry, but property isn’t the only thing that defines me.

I’m about to do something that nobody in my industry likes to do: show you who I really am. No, getting you to buy property is not my raison d’être, and yes, I have values that I bring to my role, and what’s more, I have huge passions outside the industry. This is what sets me apart from the agents. And, in fact, it’s what makes me a better buyers advisor. Let me explain.

Humble beginnings as a writer

I started Unique Living to provide you with the kind of services you can’t find elsewhere, but I wasn’t always in property. When I graduated, I did what a lot of young people with a freshly baked degree in Broadcast Journalism do: I tried to become a football reporter.

This was a mistake, and I realised it at the worst possible time: during a one-on-one interview with Arsène Wenger himself at Arsenal’s training ground. Stammering a string of questions each punier than the last and sweating like an avocado in a trendy kitchen, I went back to the Capital Gold Sport Studio with no interview. That’s when I knew journalism wasn’t my calling at that time in my life. I was too soft for it. I like people, but not to use for quotes. I like chatting, but not without a real connection. In other words, I’m more marketing than sales.

It was while on holiday at a friend’s apartment in Nueva Andalucía that the first inklings of my future came to me. There I was, with the sun beating down on my skin and Counting Crows’ album August and Everything After playing on my Walkman (remember those?), almost in a meditative moment, and I thought, “this is what I want.” Songs and music very often define a place and a moment in time for me. This was a powerful moment for me, and one I’ve tried to recreate many, many times.

Later I worked towards establishing a career in property, but it’s always been about that memory for me; the lifestyle of sitting in the sun, looking over a beautiful landscape, with music playing in the background. Carefree, romantic, and musical. Every agent has their own negotiation strategy and every country has its own cultural differences. For me, focussing on the lifestyle that my clients are seeking has driven me to be successful on behalf of my clients. It’s what I would want from my buyer’s advisor.

Becoming the international property expert and house party DJ

Did you know that I’m also a professional DJ? One of the unique services that I offer is DJing house warming parties for my clients. When I first started, it was fantastic to see how buyers loved the fact that their agent could secure a great deal for them on a property – and then throw them an amazing house warming party! It’s a win-win situation for me, and clients love the fact that I only charge a fraction of the price other DJs do because I do it for the passion.

Very often when I hear a specific track or album, I’m taken back to the place where I heard that. Another such occasion was en route to an exhibition in 2002 with Will Young’s Relight My Fire on the car radio, a defining day in the history of Unique Living. That day we met a Cypriot developer who encouraged us to advertise her portfolio on our website, at the time offering a search service for UK-based property renters. Just three months later, we had successfully advertised and sold three properties to British clients. That’s when we knew it. “Hang on…there’s something in this.” We were hooked.

At that time my family had a small studio apartment in La Californie. On a weekend holiday there, I decided to pop into a local estate agent on the Croisette – and that’s how we got our first luxury portfolio of resale properties to advertise. It went on from there. I contacted more local agencies offering to partner with them, using my already considerable experience to help UK buyers through the complex process of buying abroad.

From there, I have gone on to help buyers find and purchase properties in the French Riviera, Costa del Sol, Ibiza, Mallorca, Sardinia and Barbados – to name just a few! Fast-forward sixteen years, and here we are.

Coming together

Dealing with different kinds of clients with different kinds of needs, goals, and ambitions has required developing a specific set of skills. However, I found that, even though I’m dealing with people who are leaders in their own field of industry, I have my own field of expertise: international luxury property.

I really have my journalistic roots to thank for this. Being a journalist, you have to successfully deal with all sorts of people. However, you also have to get to the root cause of what is happening. I learned that setting up face-to-face meetings with clients helped to provide the best and most unique service – because I really get to know their needs.

I am now putting my investigative journalistic experience into the sector where I have my own expertise. I write and offer advice, comment on the industry, and uncover issues that only a journalist’s instinct can find. I have the client’s best interests in mind. Football reporters are football reporters; there’s only so much you can discuss and talk about and speculate with football, whereas international property experts are few and far between. It’s a niche position to be in. I have learned, applied and developed my trade, and arrived at where I am today through hard graft.

And while that dream, the lifestyle, has always been in the background for me, it really was unlocked in the last few years through music. Music as therapy, music as catharsis, and music as the stuff of life. That’s why I’m developing housepartydj.co.uk – I plan to become the pre-eminent house party DJ, bringing nightclubs to your living room or poolside. But it also made me realise how important it is to live the life you want to live now, and that passion helps me to empathise with my clients, who are all seeking their own equally important lifestyle. So, there it is – the reason my international property buyer’s advisory has been such a success story. Bring your passion to your work, and your work will speak for itself.

I’d love to hear what you think of my story – how have your passions inspired you in your career? Get in touch with me here or message me on LinkedIn.

Serge Cowan

Serge Cowan

Managing Director and Founder

Serge has an extensive marketing background, after a broadcasting career, Serge moved into marketing where he worked for BSkyB & a number of leading Public Relations agencies.
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