Thank you. Goodnight.
If this blog post is being published, it means that the contract has been signed and I am now an Ex- Spanish property agent. It feels good to say that.
(Excuse me while I re-read that last sentence to myself)
I´ve been telling people for years that I am ready to pack in this business. After being told I am “mad” to think about walking away from a cash cow, the next statement is “what would you do?” I´ll get back to that, but first why?
I am very proud of what my family has achieved in Spain since my parents bought a little retirement house in La Zenia twenty years ago. They built Paddy’s Point from the ground up, literally creating out of thin air what is now a phenomenon amongst Irish bars in Europe. Maybe it does matter which way the toilet roll goes into the dispenser after all? Who knew?
I worked there for a year or so back in 2001, always with my eye on the next big thing. Property was the obvious winner- high demand, high profit and it gave me to opportunity to give clients real value for money, real service too, which was in such short supply then.
I remember Uncle Mick telling me to make my agency different- make the client special. So I did. We drove them to mass, we gave them tickets to games in Croke Park, we loaned them a car or a pint (actually a half litre) of milk and we did what neighbours do. Every single agent these days puts that BS on their website “ we do more, blah blah”- I´m not selling anything here so I can tell the truth!! Back in the day and for the first ten years of our existence, we delivered. We were the agent I would buy a foreign property from.
I used my one big strength and put an incredible team together back in 2002 and into 2003. Carol, Hazel, Silvia, Eva, McBride, No Bum, Ken and Christine – some squad, all held together by the brilliance of the selling ability of my uncle Fehin.
“Some will, some wont. Who cares? Next!”
I brag about our success often enough so there is no need to go into it here. Anyone who knows me well enough has heard it all before. (we did sell 2,000 houses though!!)
It wasn’t all plain sailing. We fell out with a huge number of people too. I lack patience and just don’t understand how people cannot see what is glaringly obvious (to me!).
We´ve been sued, threatened, robbed by staff members, hacked twice and worse. We had a manager who spent her days copying my website to build her husbands property business, then sue us for unfair dismissal, and she won!
We had agents screw us over, buyers and sellers cut us out of deals, (people from home who knew my parents!) sellers break their word and steal deposits already paid over to them. I´ve had people I classed as friends snub me in public over a perceived grievance- I still have that today. Its not easy to take.
Upsettingly, there are 100 people walking around the Costa Blanca right now who would not be where they are, without me or my family and what we did for them. Many of them will read this and not give it a second thought. I don’t care that we´ll never get credit for what we did. It’s just something that happened.
What mystifies me is the totally unjustified negativity towards us from many people we have employed, set up in business, given work to, loaned money to, stood up for, went to battle for, helped save thousands of euro and just normal things a neighbour does. We can often feel the jealously radiate from people, almost like a dagger in the back of the head. What is that about? I helped set you up- you know I did. I´m happy these people are where they are, why are they anything else except positive towards me?
I wonder is it like this everywhere else in the world or just here? Sometimes it’s hard to swallow.
That reminds me, remember this is not a rant, but why do people gossip? I absolutely could not give a squirt of pee as to who is doing who. (Whom? You know what I mean) Why do people care less what others do with their lives? Is their life that empty that they make up lies or even regurgitate Bul$$$IT that someone told them, even though they know it’s not true. You know it’s not true, you know I know you are saying this about me, why repeat it? I think it will come back to haunt them, but I don’t care either way, it´ll never haunt me.
The old story says that what does not kill you makes you stronger. Unfortunately, that is not true. It’s a lie, it hurts. The people especially who do not talk to my wife, her ex-friends or to me to a lesser extent over a perceived grudge, well, I´ll give you the victory- you got me congratulations.
Back to the 98% of people we encountered since opening our office that we liked, loved, respected and learned from. Some of the team members over the years were diamonds personally and professionally (past and current staff included). I´ll remember you with great fondness and gratitude.
Clients, staff and collaborators have attended family functions, like my wedding; brought us somewhere for wine; they bring us totally unnecessary presents; send us cards and random messages; bring gifts to my boys; tell their friends about us and defend us against the negativity. You made this worthwhile.
From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.
Back to me. Finn arrived in July 2011, my first born. Everything changed then, not just my golf game or social life (both sadly non-existent now) but my hunger and desire to chase a deal ceased that day too. People say I´ve changed. Well, I have.
I don’t want to do this anymore. This is a competitive sector- I don’t want to get involved in a war where I don’t care about the result. Sean/Claire/Silvia had a difficult job holding it together and performed admirably in squeezing an extra 7 years of profit out of the business. It is a changing environment today and I have no intention in learning Russian or search engine optimisation to remain relevant. I never wanted to own an ordinary agency. No profit or prestige once you have earned “enough” can justify that in my head. The business needs the owner running it. It is now the turn of someone else to do so- Sunworld will do a great job.
Going back 20 years, I have precedent in this. I closed my sport clinic in Mullingar back in 1998, just as it was about to take off. I was the Westmeath GAA “physio” during Barney Rock´s years, my dream job, sports and money, and I was good at it. I just knew it wasn’t the job for me. I closed the door and never treated a client again.
Again, I´m reminded that I never wanted to be “just” an estate agent. I don’t mean that disrespectfully to most estate agents. Well, it is true that I hate, (that word is banned in our house, feels weird to write it) to be compared to one or two cowboys and cowgirls around the area. We were never the same thing, we are not the same and I will never be the same as you. Stop comparing your values to mine.
There are so many estate agents I like, you are good people, just tainted by the chancers around. I learned so much by the good ones we went to battle with- You made us better, although never admitted that before. We needed you to raise the standards, I´m still a little pi%%ed about those deals you beat me to, but you did the right thing- you know who you are.
Personally, I think I am just the guy who set up and ran a successful estate agency for 16 years and got out in time, leaving enough gold in the mine for the next guy to find. That’s all.
So, the question, what am I going to do now?
Simples. I am going to do yoga, write a children’s book, take pictures, practice Taekwondo and not watch reality TV. I do have plans to develop my consultancy business using the legal and taxation experts in Spanish Solutions. I´ll still occasionally help people to buy and sell houses in Spain, of course I will. (subject to my non-compet agreement!!) I´ll help Spanish companies to find their way into other markets- not exclusively property companies and developers.
I have an eye on the tourism, wine and health (supplement) sectors. We are not going to disappear. We love living and working on the Costa Blanca too much.
Today however, I´m sitting in a little Spanish café totally anonymously writing this. I like it here, no one asks me anything. For the next few months I´ll be found decompressing with my family. My phone is turned off, my Bermuda shorts still fit and my beach towel is being dusted off. I am officially MIA or AWOL, one of these.
Thank you to Sunworld for being the ones to say “F%%k yeah” when they saw this opportunity. Best of luck guys, you don’t need it. You will be brilliant.
To everyone who made this possible; Lynne, families, friends, agents, wonderful supportive staff, The Berns, Sam, Fehin, my mentors and inspirations, people I forgot to mention and even the ones who caused all of this… Finn, Ruari and Cillian.
Buenas noches y Gracias!