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Jane Johnson

Jane Johnson on estate agency - be out of the ordinary, and not afraid to tackle the unusual

By Jane Johnson

Director and Owner - Homes of Hampshire Limited

Doing things differently with exceptional customer service is the simple and outstanding quality shared by Jane Johnson and her husband and business partner Peter – a principle that is ingrained in their estate agency business.

Both Jane and Peter bring their high-quality service mindset from their early professions working in the American finance sector where they met.

After a career break to raise their two daughters – during which time Jane spent three years on the BBC South Audience Council – a new door opened in 2017 when the pair signed up with the largest real estate company in the world Keller Williams to establish their bespoke and luxury agency Homes of Hampshire.

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How do you and Peter work together in business?

We're on the same page and we complement each other in terms of our skills and what we're good at. I tend to do more of the front end in terms of viewings and marketing. Peter is very good at the strategic planning, background analysis, and research.

Can you give us any examples from your portfolio of clients?

Just before lockdown, we had the chance to sell a houseboat and its mooring in Battersea, London. It had been on the market for over three years with hardly any viewings and no offers.

We spent the whole day on the boat to really understand and experience it, but more importantly we wanted to establish the reasons why it had not sold. It became apparent that most viewers had unanswered questions regarding the boat and ‘river life’. So, we asked to be introduced to the owner of the houseboat moored next to it who had lived there for 23 years. There was nothing that he didn't know about houseboats and living there, so we made an agreement with him to help with the viewings. We listed it in December 2019 and sold it two months later. That was one of our early successes with Keller Williams; taking on the unusual and managing to achieve it.

Although we’re based in the New Forest and primarily concentrate on that area, we are happy to take on properties within a 40-minute drive; selling homes in central Winchester, Southampton & Romsey. We can also take on properties in any other parts of the country due to the large network we operate in.

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"We like to give that extra level of personal service, because we don’t deal in volumes."

How do you differ from other estate agencies in your approach?

We don’t have a high street presence like a lot of agents so to get the listings we do a lot of business networking, social media, and marketing, obtaining a lot of business by referrals.

Good service is the element missing from many UK estate agents, and we like to be able to give that extra level of personal service because we don’t deal in volumes, we tend to only work with around six properties at any one time. In addition we offer a single point of contact (we are not a big office), specifically understanding the seller’s needs and motivation and get to know each property in detail.

Launching a property with an Open house is one of our specialities, as is the property buying service.

What’s your perspective on the UK housing market at the moment?

The housing market of 2023 is completely different to that of last year. Buoyancy has been replaced by caution. The first-time buyer end of the market is a little slow, but there are still first-time buyers currently renting that are active and ready to buy if they’ve got their deposit and their mortgage approved.

The half a million to £1.2million part of the market is really struggling. That segment is largely where most people are mortgaged and they’re having to withstand rate increases and the cost-of-living crises.

In the £1.2 to £2million bracket, there is still a market because there are people who’ve built up a lot of equity in their houses, with little or no mortgage requirements.

And at the high end, there’s no change because the wealthy end of the market is always wealthy regardless of what is happening to the world. We’ve got properties on at £2.6million and £1.5million that have had virtually all cash buyers look at them.

In summary, if you are selling it’s more important than ever to hit the market at the right price- a realistic price that will attract buyers. Some agents can overprice to flatter the client and get the listing but sitting on the market for a long period of time at a high price currently doesn’t work so we do a lot of research to get it right.

"Price realistically."

Jane Johnson - Director and Owner, Homes of Hampshire Limited

Aside from market changes, what other changes are you seeing within the industry?

Things are quite different now; when we started in 2017 it was all about just getting a great set of photos. Even in those few years, it has moved on and video is now the big thing in selling houses. Good visuals are what makes people decide to come and view.

We include a mix of drone footage and normal video to showcase the house from above, outside, and inside. We’ve just recently started to do the walk-and-talk videos, which really appeal to people. As soon as you add a video, you’ll get more hits on Rightmove and Zoopla, and especially on social media.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I’m a member of Lime Wood so I tend to go there to chill, manage a few exercise classes and Pilates. Peter and I both enjoy theatre and eating out – to me, that’s a nice de-stress of an evening to eat out somewhere nice with friends. Our two daughters are grown up now and living in London and Bristol.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?

I take inspiration from many sources, Richard Branson for his entrepreneurial spirit and brand building style, I follow high-end realtors in America and all around the world, taking inspiration from what they’re doing and how they’re presenting property to try and keep it fresh compared to what people do in the UK.

I also enjoy listening to Chris Evans, I love his perspective on mindset together with his boundless energy and ‘can do’ attitude.