I formed Aston Chase in the summer of 1985 with my business partner Richard Bernstone. Over the last 40 years, we have consistently consolidated our reputation as one of the Capital’s leading and most respected upscale agencies, with a special focus on the residential market in central and north west London.
Our launch was regarded as an industry disrupter, as we set our sights on the prime market with the intention of offering unparalleled levels of service aligned with being property specific rather than simply area specific. At the time, most estate agents would have had high street offices, displaying multiple properties in their windows.
We, however, took the approach that ‘less is more’, abandoning the traditional approach in favour of a single hub office servicing a wide area, giving our brokers the ‘licence to roam’. This way, they could build solid relationships with their clients, and not have to pass them from one satellite office to another.
Before founding Aston Chase, I was working for Bargets, having been headhunted at the tender age of 22 to run the agency. The new owner had purchased the business from his brother-in-law, who was emigrating to Florida. He was a highly successful businessman, and although he lived in a beautiful home in St. John’s Wood, had no estate agency experience, but was passionate about the idea of owning a boutique agency.
I was identified as an emerging star and was given a wonderful opportunity for which I will always be grateful. I recall my employer’s disappointment when I told him of my plans to start Aston Chase – especially as he was on the cusp of listing the business (along with others he owned) on the alternative investment market. I, however, was committed to making my own mark.
Over the 40 years we have been in business, we have, of course, encountered many cycles in the property industry. The last few years have been particularly uncertain, and there’s no doubt that the current market is both challenging and unpredictable. I firmly believe that it is largely down to the experience of Aston Chase’s exceptional team and our stability and ability to navigate our way through unprecedented challenges that we have been able to continue to outperform our competitors. The team’s incredibly strong work ethic and true passion for property can’t be underestimated.
Predicting London’s property hot spots is something we have elevated to an art form. St. John’s Wood is set to become one of central London’s magic circle postcodes, thanks to the redevelopment of St. John’s Wood Barracks (which will be known as St. John’s Wood Square), the regeneration of the High Street into a Mayfair-style continental boulevard, and the ever increasing demand from international buyers attracted to the area by Regent’s University London, Lord’s Cricket Ground, the London Business School and the American School in London. For families in general, there is a disproportionately wide offering of exceptional private schools, plus the wonderful amenities of both Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park on the doorstep.
Slightly further north, Hampstead Garden Suburb is enjoying a renaissance in popularity and correspondingly in capital values – following the pandemic, people are increasingly valuing space and close proximity to parkland. Brent Cross Town is also one to watch. Thanks to the vision and skill of developers Argent, who were behind the dazzling transformation of King’s Cross, it’s set to be one of the most ambitious regeneration programmes in Europe.
It’s hard to believe that Aston Chase’s 40th anniversary is fast approaching. We’ve had our share of ups and downs, but I feel extremely lucky to be able to wake up every day to a job I am still passionate about. I never forget what an honour it is to have been entrusted with the sale of so many special homes and property searches over the years. Whether captains of industry, celebrities or friends, I have always strived to remember that whoever you are, selling, buying and finding a forever home is an emotional event, and it is invariably an individual’s most important investment. Whoever we are working with, whatever the size and value of the property, we’ll offer the same high levels of service and respect.
My vision for Aston Chase is to continue organically growing the business from our prominently located hub office in Park Road, by Regent’s Park, having recently expanded into the adjoining premises. Unlike many other businesses, we strongly believe that a physical office is vital in a sales environment, ensuring a good flow of information between us all – a wonderful, high-energy buzz is created by 20 people working together in an open-plan space.
Our Lettings & Management Department is also benefiting from recent expansion, both increasing our recurring income stream and ensuring we can look after all our clients’ needs under one roof. Ultimately, our objective is to continue being ‘best in class’. While respectful of today’s ‘disrupters’, we know that having an experienced team operating within the guidelines of a highly regarded, long-established agency, offering sellers in-depth, informed advice – as opposed to commission-only brokers – is an unbeatable service. A profitable business that enables everyone involved to prosper is aligned with our guiding ethos to always achieve the best possible outcome for our clients. We all love what we do, and live and breathe the agency.
Beyond Aston Chase, I am proud to be on the Board of both Fabric and The London Magazine, and to remain deeply involved with Norwood, a 200-year-old charity caring for adults and children with learning difficulties and special needs. Until recently, I was a Trustee and Chair of Fundraising, tasked with raising £12 million per annum through voluntary donations. It was obviously a daunting task, but thanks to the connections made over a 45-year career at the top end of the London’s residential market, it has been hugely rewarding to be able to give something back – and also good for the soul.