Local agent: On getting clients arrested and an LED fetish

Michael Raza of David Key, Hampstead branch

Michael Raza of David Key, Hampstead branch - Credit: Archant

As part of the community in which they are based, north London estate agent firm David Key has a strong charitable ethos and work with Langdon, a charity for autistic children, as well as donating a proportion of their bottom line profit to local schools.

David Key Hampstead office

David Key Hampstead office - Credit: Archant

Regional sales director Michael Raza, 29, has worked for the company for the past two years, and has been heading up the Finchley Road branch since it opened six months ago.

Where do you live and with who?

I live with my wife in Mill Hill. We’ve been married for just over a year and we moved in with each other after we got married.

Why did you buy the property?

I bought it because it was very very very cheap and it was close to family. I grew up in the area.

What’s your favourite thing about your home?

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I’ve gone a bit LED crazy and put some really nice LED lights around the roof so it lights the walls all the way around the house. They even go around the decking in the garden so it’s really bright at night.

Michael Raza's house, complete with LEDs

Michael Raza's house, complete with LEDs - Credit: Archant

If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell yourself when you bought your current home?

Do a bit more research. See what’s viable, i.e. what’s going to happen in the local area. We had a pub that got knocked down and turned into flats, and we’re not too far from an army barracks, which has also been developed. It turns out this isn’t the worst thing as it means property prices in the area have gone up but it’s worth remembering that you think you may know what’s happening in the local area because you’re from the local area, but you may not have any idea what’s going on three streets away.

Do you prefer a fixer-upper or plush new-build?

If it’s a flat, I’d prefer a new build. However, if I was looking for a family home it’d have to be a fixer-upper because I’d like to have things the way that I want them. On the other hand, I’d look at a flat as a temporary thing and I’d probably live there at a busy time in my life so I’d want it to be ready to move into.

When did you buy your first property and what was it like?

I bought my first flat in 2004. It was a two bedroom flat in Finchley and I bought it with my father as an investment so I never actually lived there.

What’s your dream house?

It has to be something that’s got a lot of glass, secluded, overlooking some sort of beautiful landscape. I don’t want it to be in the countryside, I’m not a country person, I definitely want it to be in the city. I like open spaces, I like light, I love glass, lots of greenery, waterfalls. Probably in LA. Next door to Angelina Jolie. I think I’d be a good neighbour.

What’s the worst thing you’ve seen on the job?

I was working in lettings for a different company and I took a client round to see a property. When we arrived I saw a pair of legs sticking out of the window – this was a first floor flat – so I thought there’d been a break in and I called the police. It turned out to be the landlord who’d gone round to do a bit of painting and forgotten to take the keys with him. He didn’t have any identification with him to show who he was so he had to sit in the police car for an hour and a half. The look on his face was priceless, although I think he saw the funny side after a couple of days. And that client did end up being the tenant.

What are the most common mistakes clients make?

People take too much time when buying a property. The housing market is very competitive but clients will like a place, then they’ll decide to go and look at something else. Three weeks later they might make an offer on the original property and it’ll be gone. Do your research, but don’t come back to us three weeks later expecting the property to still be there.

What are your top tips for the local area?

We’re very big on lunch in our Finchley Road office and the best place has to be the nearby Persian place, Behest, for their very good food.

For breakfast the Rose Café across the road is really good, really surprising. My guys have been going there for baguettes as well. For dry cleaners Siciliana is very reasonable in price and they wash very quickly. I can take something in and they’ll have it back for me the next day, and it’s only £1.20 to get a shirt cleaned, pressed and on a hanger.