The No-Nonsense Crew, Residents Journal, February 2015

3rd of February 2015

Henry Hopwood-Phillips talks to the partners of Rymer Irens


We begin by discussing Rymer Irens’ forthcoming Open Day on 14 February 2015 (9.00am-3.00pm), from the comfort of one of its clients’ recently renovated homes. First impressions are that this is a firm that speaks, acts, looks and thinks local. ‘We’re not the sort that feels comfortable hiding behind emails,’ notes Ben (the Rymer part of the business). ‘This is an opportunity for people to discuss anything property-related with ourselves, face to face.


The aim of the day is to offer the local residents the opportunity to ask any questions that they might have about moving house. ‘How much does it cost to move? Do I need a local solicitor? What sort of survey do I require?’ and the like. The only problem is that it seems to fall on Valentine’s Day. ‘Ha,’ Ben scoffs. ‘What could be more romantic than making your other half happy in the long term with the prospect of a new home?’ Very smooth.


I suggest that perhaps the Open Day is a measure of the era of Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket and all things internet. Angus Irens acknowledges what I’m getting at and insists that they keep an eye on a market that’s ever-changing, but Ben is less apologetic. ‘Whilst the industry has changed, the principles of old still exist – we personally like to meet our clients and buyers in person as it helps us understand what they are truly looking for.’ This forward-thinking company is also embracing new ideas and has recently launched is new e-magazine. It feels like this is very much a boots-on-the-ground operation. ‘People thought we were mad opening back in 2009,’ Duncan, perhaps the more softly spoken of this chirpy trio, interrupts. ‘However, we can’t hide with our names above the door and this genuinely makes us stand out when compared with other agents.’


One reason why the back-to-basics approach has worked has been their collective belief in the area. Ben has worked as an estate agent in the Bellevue Road area since 1996. He’s keen to emphasise how other areas in London, often considered more affluent, are full of similar houses. ‘Here, however, you can buy Victorian, Edwardian, new or old – you name it, you can find it.’ This passion manifests itself in energetic forms: from the opening day (when they personally delivered 5,000 flyers in under two days) to their involvement in the community, the business has not shirked from any chance to get involved locally. The three of them take particular pride in recently being one of the founder sponsors of a new local school for autistic children within the area. This effort and enthusiasm seem to be repaying them in spades; a second office (on Nightingale Lane) was opened up two years ago.


With their combined experience and knowledge of the area, they really do sound like they know what they are talking about. Angus first bought property in Clapham 20 years ago. ‘I certainly don’t remember being steered through the buying process back then and I have to say it was daunting. Thankfully, that’s not the case for our clients nowadays.’


We move on to discuss an area that is covered by Rymer Irens, namely Streatham (which is where we are chatting). I start off by getting a history lesson, most notably on its role as a suburb for wealthy merchants who built large homes to get away from London’s grimy centre. ‘What is evident today is the fact that there is just so much more space round here; at least much more than anywhere further north, and the area has improved no end,’ Duncan observes. Talking of regeneration, they all start to get excited about the Telford Park Conservation Area, which acts as a hub to the lawn tennis club and has a residents-only email forum (covering everything from nannies to plumbers) that keeps community cohesion strong.


Ben agrees. The same can be said about Balham. Having lived and worked in Balham since the early 1990s, at first hand I have witnessed the transformation of the area and how appealing it has become to young families and the like. Now it’s very trendy and has all the amenities you’d expect in an upmarket neighbourhood.’


If this sounds all very micro and local, that’s because it is – but then, so is the market. When I probe Duncan about migration patterns, he is quite blunt in saying that people don’t really jump from area to area; instead they hop only very small distances. Not that locals are trapped when central London beckons. Ben lists a huge number of transport links, including prospective ideas to extend the Bakerloo Line in Streatham’s direction.


Looking to the future, Angus feels that the public became overly consumed by the headlines of yesteryear (the Scotland referendum, mansion tax proposals, MMR and stamp duty – just to name a few) which dominated the news for much of the second half of 2014. ‘These scares kept distorting perspectives and they created a certain amount of confusion. However, Christmas allowed everyone time to digest all of the facts and now there is full transparency within the market.’ He is insistent that the fundamentals also remain the same. ‘If you want to move, you will. The reasons are legion, but usually resolve around the arrival, schooling or departure of kids.’


I’ve really enjoyed meeting these three, who clearly take both their business and their clients seriously. Would I sell through them? Most definitely.