In the following interview, Martin Bikhit, managing director of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co in London, discusses affiliating with the brand network, Brexit’s impact on the market, and more.
Region Served: London, England
Years in Real Estate: 23
Number of Offices: 3
Number of Agents: 25
Kay & Co is a family business. How does this set the firm apart from the competition?
Our business has benefited from being under the same management since its inception, and we believe that our returning clients benefit from that continuity, too. We are interested in long-term relationships over short-term profit, and, therefore, have built up a loyal client base that crosses generations. My father looked after the parents, and now I am working with their children for their real estate needs. We focus on the three defining principles of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which are integrity, stability and longevity, and find that business growth and reputation are key components of those.
Do you have any time management tips for other agents hoping to excel?
Always have a long-term goal and then decide on the most efficient way to get there. The best way to do this is to focus on a few things and do those well. If you focus on too many goals, you will not do any of them well. Pick three or four key objectives at a time, which will help you achieve your overall goal for the business, then focus on them and you will see the results.
I understand you’re currently navigating Brexit. How has this impacted your business, and what do you expect the future to be like?
Brexit and the ensuing uncertainty have been a challenge for the UK property market. Buyer confidence has been badly affected, but in the past few months, we have seen a revival of interest, largely spurned by people becoming tired of waiting and realizing they need to get on with their lives. Our revenues are up 146 percent year-over-year, which is a telling sign. For overseas investors, Brexit has been somewhat of a godsend. Prices are about 15-20 percent lower than they were at the peak of 2014, and the sterling has fallen dramatically against most major currencies since Brexit. A dollar buyer can now buy at up to 45 percent less than they would have paid at the peak of the market, and we are seeing the benefits of this with a number of the major sales that have taken place in London in the past year going to U.S. buyers. Irrespective of the outcome of Brexit, we expect to see a significant uptake in UK residential once Brexit is resolved.
Tell me about your franchise relationship with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. What made you choose this network?
For us, there was no other brand to consider. When we heard the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices value proposition, we knew that it would benefit our business and give us access to a global referral network of quality agents who would give us a platform to compete against the major global players in the UK market. Coupled with a senior management team with long-term global growth plans, superb training and cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technology, there really was only one choice—and that was to put the name of a company revered worldwide in front of our own and join the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network.
How has business changed since the transition?
It has been a very exciting journey. Our clients understand the importance of being able to reach the buyers that other UK agents simply cannot, especially in the U.S. We recently had one client list over $100 million with us in a single day shortly after we announced our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network membership, and another developer who we had been chasing for years gave us a 145-unit development in Kings Cross in North London—home to Google and, shortly, Facebook, among others—due to our ability to connect with these buyers before they come to London…and it has paid dividends.
What does the future look like for Kay & Co?
Within the coming years, we intend to have comprehensive coverage of both prime and outer prime London and to build up a presence of 20-30 offices. We recently launched both a commercial offering and a mortgage service, but also plan to enter the relocation market, as well as launch an interior design service so that we give our clients a complete 360-degree real estate offering.
For more information, please visit www.berkshirehathawayhs.com.
Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.