Unique Living
March 15th, 2019 | by Serge Cowan

What I Learnt From Unique Living’s Record Year


Unique Living had a record year in 2018. It was incredible – I’d say 95% of all our business last year ended in securing a great deal on the right property for the right buyer. Now we’re getting into the real meat of 2019, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our enormous success. I think the single biggest factor was my decision to be more public about my true mission – championing the buyer of international property, which I’ve written about elsewhere – but there were other important influences, too.


The dreaded B-word

Brexit turned the whole of 2018 into a year of deep uncertainty in the UK. And yet it was also the year that many of my clients, some of whom have been mulling over plans to buy property in Europe for years, decided to pull the trigger and press ahead with their purchases. Why?

For many of them, the idea of Brexit simply lost the fear it once inspired. Many said, “Screw it, I’m fed up with being dumped on by politicians and I’m not getting any younger.” They still wanted a piece of Europe, so they bought a plot of land in Europe. It’s as simple as that.

International luxury property is an ever-changing market influenced by three main things: what buyers want, politics, and the media. Scaremongering is a huge problem in my industry. Newspapers need to be sold, websites need traffic – I used to be a journalist, I understand these things – but at some point, the PR becomes harmful, and at times it has discouraged buyers from approaching a perfectly good property market. But the fact is, many people around the world have purchased properties in non-European countries as a lifestyle choice, not only Barbados but also the USA and many more, without being stung by taxes. And when my clients realise that, they set their sights back on Europe and the reality of life.

In short, I’ve learnt that I need to be firmer in teaching clients something I had to learn the hard way a long time ago: do not to listen to the media or politicians when it comes to the luxury property market. Listen to advisors like us who want you to know the truth, there is always an agenda when there is negativity.


The importance of real relationships

Much of what I’ve learnt since becoming the International Property Buyers Advisory has been from my clients. Even though things in the world change, the basic needs of people don’t. People who have the ability and the desire, who want to own a home in the Costa del Sol, Cote d’Azur, Tuscany, Algarve, St Kitts or Barbados to name a few. Being able to learn their needs and then provide the best solutions for them is part of the unique services that we aim to provide.

I have found that the importance of building relationships is just as important for the client as it is for me. For example, meeting clients face-to-face helps build trust between both sides. From the buyer’s point of view, they can get a better insight into the complexities and intricacies of buying a property overseas. They can also see that we are not your typical real estate agent who is more interested in selling property to them. Meeting directly with buyers give us the chance to show that we are championing their cause.

From my point of view, it is also important to see how involved the buyer is in the process. Sometimes, buyers come to us with ideas of where they would like to buy a home. However, you can quickly see if they are genuine or not.

I have also learnt that, as political climates can change, so can the personal lives of our potential clients. This is another reason why building relationships is important for us. For example, I try to connect with clients who have mandated to us in the past but who didn’t buy. Very often, things have happened in their life and they are in a different place now than a year or three ago. However, they may still have the same ambition to buy.

This is why having a face-to-face meeting is extremely important for me now. It gives me the opportunity to speak to them as a human and not as a salesperson – because I want to understand their lifestyle objectives.

Now is a good time to take a moment and reflect back on your year. What did you learn? How have you grown? Reach out to me on LinkedIn – I’d love to hear from you.

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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