Merry Christmas... and a few notes on our first year as business partners!
Tell us about 2018?
Najwa: 2018 has been a great year for us. We are working on our biggest job to date and also working internationally, in Marrakech and Lebanon as well as London of course. For me personally I’ve loved not only the more integrated work I’m doing with Karim, but also the travel, which inspires me and gives me room to breathe and follow my senses and earlier influences.
Karim: Yes, this year we got out of our Central and west London comfort zone, with more searches in North London and a deal in Edinburgh we have also also properly launched the interior architecture and design side of our business, Finally are ready to go public and showcase the full range of Homes One’s capabilities, and there is more to come.
How does next year look?
Karim: We are working on the expanded vision for the business, and in many ways doing so much more than what you can currently read about at our website, in our newsletters, and on our blogs. We’ll be more open about it as various infrastructures fall into place, but essentially we are expanding into the same market place to offer a wider range of services. We already provide buy and sell support on an official basis, as well as interior design and architecture. Now we want to expand that to include management, developments, investment and commercial including hotels, and agency for foreign territories and the UK countryside. I call this full-service solution a super-agency with the best partners we can find.
Najwa: We are in closer contact with our clients now that we work with them on a longer-term basis, and beginning to understand their needs in deeper ways. The idea of being a one-stop service for all their property needs has been with us for quite some time, and is beginning to manifest as we grow the business together. Aside from this I am lucky because the next year has even more travel for me, and all to places I love. We are completing our Morrocco project in the next few months and also beginning a new country house in Lebanon for a family member. So I get to go to these places a lot, where east meets west, which is the vibe I love.
Will you focus on the same pool of clients?
Karim: If you mean will we focus on the middle east, I think that’s natural to us as we are both Lebanese, and because of that we’ve always got referrals from the region, and in turn our network has expanded in those territories. However it only contributes 50% of our business, so we do have a more even client base than you might think. We will continue to specialize in current areas though of course, as that is where the flow is, and we love to work with people we know well.
Najwa: We don’t specifically say as much though, as we do have a wider audience. That’s why we use the term ‘guiding our clients through unfamiliar territory’. They don’t have to be from the middle east, they are just looking for guidance and support as they move to London or into the property game, which can be complex and high risk. We either know the territory intimately, as is the case with London, or we have the network to operate effectively in almost any market, because we’ve been working for international buyers in London for 15 years, and it is such a hub. So we get access to almost anywhere, which has been valuable this year for our international projects.
What styles or trends are you seeing emerge for the coming year?
Najwa: Modern with a classical twist, embracing tradition and luxury, while staying bright and big. I’m also seeing a lot of modern sleek design that includes distress, particularly in restaurants. I expect terracotta and corral to be everywhere next year, as they are in trend across many sectors, and for me this is a delight as it blends with my tastes and my roots, bringing together the best of north Africa and the Mediterranean region.
Karim: There is less interest in new builds lately due to a dearth of stock, particularly on the river – however precisely the opposite is true in the center of town, where low inventory levels are starting to influence buying habits through increased competition, although things are still in relative stasis because of the political situation. There is so little developed period stiock that prices for tunrkey apartments of this type are holding. I expect everything to pick up and for clarity to emerge around the market once there is a clear direction with Brexit. We are also seeing some new searches for larger prime house properties, which have been quiet until recently.
How is it working more closely together?
Najwa: It’s fun and has felt like a natural step. In many ways it didn’t change, it just made what we do together more official and brought it all under one brand. It has given both businesses a more robust proposition, and we have lots of laugh out loud moments as we navigate business and relating. I get more influence on the back of Karim’s work, and also a better sales funnel – which I love!
Karim: (laughing) It’s nice to offer design from someone whose taste I love and admire. And as a bonus, I’ve acquired 16,000 Instagram followers in one fell swoop. Great feel good factor!