Neil Barnes may be the property pro, but his wife knows how to pick a home
PUBLISHED: 09:55 12 January 2016 | UPDATED: 09:55 12 January 2016
The sporty St John's Wood estate agent was pipped to the post for the family home by his wife
What’s special about your agency?
Hamptons are a fantastic company to work for. We aim to deliver unrivalled customer service, something all of our staff are committed to. There’s a real team feeling within the branch at local level as well, as a real desire to support colleagues in other branches as well as other areas of the business.
Where do you live and with whom?
I live in Enfield with my wife and two children (Ella, 10 and Lewis, 7).
Why did you buy your current property? What’s your favourite thing about it?
It’s funny, when I bought it I was working in the area and it was my job to know all the houses on the market, yet it was actually my wife who spotted it. She viewed it first, called me to tell me to go and have a look and we bought it straight away. That was 10 years ago and we’re all still very happy there. We live opposite the children’s school and are friends to many of the parents. We feel really lucky to have so many friends around us.
If you weren’t an estate agent what would you be?
I’ve always loved sport: football, athletics, golf, swimming, skiing – I guess if I hadn’t been an estate agent I would have wanted to be an FA Cup-winning (with Arsenal of course), Olympic 100m gold medallist – not too much to ask for.
When did you buy your first property and what was it like?
I bought my first property at 24, it was brilliant to have my own space. It formed part of an old converted hospital in Winchmore Hill, two bedrooms, one of which I rented out to a mate I was playing football with at the time. Those were the days.
What’s your dream house?
I love Elsworthy Road and Wadham Gardens, the houses there are amazing. If I keep doing the lottery I might be able to afford to buy a tenth of one of them one day.
How long have you been an estate agent? What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen on the job?
I started in estate agency in 2000 and have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic people along the way, all of them competitive and wanting to be the best they can be, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I remember in the early stages of my career, on my way to show a small flat, I arrived a few minutes early to prepare: open the curtains, put some lights on, tuck away any obvious clutter. On entering the bedroom it was obvious there was someone asleep with legs and arms protruding from under the duvet, I tried to make some noise to wake him up but it wasn’t working. The applicant arrived and rang the bell, which woke him up. Luckily he saw the funny side of things, it could’ve been a lot worse!!
How has the local property market changed since you started out?
Over the last couple of years in St John’s Wood I’ve noticed prices level out a little. Having said that, for the right property you will always get one or more buyers who will fall in love with something and be prepared to pay a premium. Generally though, with the information people can now access online and knowing what the market value for certain properties on a £/sq ft basis, this is happening less frequently. I always find properties which are realistically priced will sell and will sometimes be agreed above their existing asking prices. I would always recommend discussing a marketing strategy before placing the property onto the market.
What are your top tips for the local area?
St John’s Wood is a fantastic area – there are some excellent schools and transport facilities. Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath are all close by providing some of the best parkland our fabulous capital city has to offer. Make the most of the view points these open spaces have to offer – you’ll know why when you get up there!!
Are you good at Monopoly?
At home we have junior Monopoly which I’ve played a few times this year with the kids – I tend to let them win (honest!), it’s just not worth my while otherwise. We may soon be getting the real thing, it’s time for no more Mr Nice Guy!