Meet The Agent: “Ireland? Croatia? Maybe Catalonia?” - Philip Tottenham, of Collinson Hall St Albans talks holiday homes and windsurfing

A colourful career path for this week's agent...

A colourful career path for this week's agent... - Credit: Archant

The residential sales valuer at Collinson Hall, St Albans answers our questions

What’s different about your agency?

For us - it’s about the people. We are primarily interested in developing long relationships with our buyers, who will eventually become sellers, landlords, commercial property clients and colleagues. A typical pattern is a couple with a baby – just like me and my family, six years ago! - who land here, in one house, then rent it out and move to something bigger; leave jobs in London and start local businesses. In time they will downsize again.

These are long, really profound associations which are about perpetually creating and supporting our community. Our deep local establishment, ultimately dating back to 1825, and our bases in Chiswell Green and St Albans position us well to guide people at each point. But you know, what we love is property as a forum for social life – great communities around here, good fun, a real privilege to watch them grow and change.

Where do you live, with whom and why did you choose your current property?


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I live with my partner and daughter off Sandpit lane. Lovely late 60s build with big windows - a quiet and leafy ‘burb but in a very handy location.

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

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I taught windsurfing for five years, worked on film sets for five years and was a photographer for ten years. What estate agency has on all that is being in the thick of life, and I love it.

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

2005 – a council flat on Hackney Road in East London. I’d never seen anything looking so wrecked, but it had a beautiful view. I refurbished it, rented it out, lived in it, and sold it to move here – was sorry to see it go, but sold it for a truly great cash price, and still exchange seasonal goodwill with the buyer (he’s on a sabbatical in the Canaries).

What’s the most shocking thing you’ve encountered in this profession?

Well. You get these clichés. Most people are well-intentioned. That said, when I was first doing sales in London, a surveyor did ask me for a bribe. He didn’t last long.

If you could have a holiday home, where would it be?

Where to start… West coast of Ireland? Croatia? Maybe Catalonia. I’ll need several. That okay?

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