This arachnophobic aspiring photographer found his perfect fit in Chalk Farm estate agency

Ben Felfeli, C.H. Peppiatt estate agent, NW3

Ben Felfeli, C.H. Peppiatt estate agent, NW3 - Credit: Archant

When former petrol pump attendant and burrito maker Ben Felfeli met the grandson of a pigeon fancying Chalk Farm estate agent his future was set, even if he still takes his SLR everywhere.

What’s special about your agency?

C.H. Peppiatt, or Charles Henry Peppiatt, raced pigeons and began a surveying business on Haverstock Hill in 1903. I met his grandson, Jimmy Peppiatt, in 2007. His three daughters didn’t want to continue with his business and Jimmy didn’t want to pass it onto anyone else. I don’t know why he asked me, but it wasn’t a con like I thought it was at first. I’m not sure how it all happened but he was the man to make me realise my dreams: a meaningful business with a genuine great team beside me.

Where do you live and with whom?

I live in Whetstone with my wife Georgina and cat Izzme.

Why did you buy your current property? What’s your favourite thing about it?

I bought it in 2004 to get on the ladder. With no kids we’ve never felt the need to move out. We bought together so we could be close to our parents even though we hardly see them now. I work long hours and my wife, who teaches at Hasmonean secondary, works long hours so we have very little time for anything else.

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If you weren’t an estate agent what would you be?

A photographer. I carry my SLR whenever I can.

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

In 2004. I found it quite easy but I had been working as an estate agent for a while so I knew the process

What’s your dream house?

I have a few dream houses. I drive past two of them almost every day. One is on Wildwood Road in Hampstead Garden Suburb; the other is in Muswell Hill on Hillfield Park at the top of the road where it has views of London.

How long have you been an estate agent? What’s the most shocking/surprising thing you’ve seen on the job?

Since 2001. Before that I worked in a petrol station pumping petrol and washing windscreens in Jamaica, Queens, NYC. I also made burittos in San Diego, California and worked in a hotel in Paddington and a fish and chip shop in Camden. The most surprising thing that’s happened is when a tarantula escaped whilst I was on a viewing. I HATE spiders and screamed like a little girl in front of a couple and their daughter who were not impressed.

How has the local property market changed since you started out?

My business began in 2007 – the start of the recession. It’s just gone up up up since then and far more people are in the “property game”. We had a young woman come into our office recently and she came in saying she was a property developer...she couldn’t have been more than 20 years old.

What are the most common mistakes clients make?

Clients don’t prepare for what’s to come. They market their property not thinking about how difficult it is to arrange removals, parking permits, change of post, etc.

What are your top tips for the local area?

For investors, if you see a rundown area next to an expensive location, invest in the run down area. It will soon change for the better. For vendors, if you can hold onto your property then do. NW3 and NW1 are Prime London. For buyers, NW3 and NW1 are very expensive but if you can afford it, it’s a sound investment. There’s so much open space and it’s very central. For tenants, sometimes it may be beneficial to secure rental agreements longer than 12 months so as to avoid any rental increases.

C.H. Peppiatt