We launched Urban Patchwork three years ago in April 2018 in the London Borough of Southwark as an estate agency with a mission.
Our aims are to:
- Be an excellent example of estate agency practice with a professional and personable customer-focused approach.
- Help meet more people’s housing needs through using the majority of surpluses for homeless housing and support or reinvestment.
Co-founder and Managing Director Toby Gooding comments, "It’s safe to say that the first few years have not been without their challenges, including unknowns around Brexit and the resulting hesitancy in the housing market, the tragic Grenfell Tower Fire and the subsequent Advice Note 14 preventing many housing sales due to non-compliant building safety standards and/or assessment processes, and of course the hugely devastating impacts of the pandemic. Despite this complex context, we’ve managed to establish ourselves at a time when many agents have gone out of business or scaled back their operations.
The last nine months of 2020/21 were however much busier in the housing market. This was likely caused by pent up demand from hesitations surrounding Brexit and lockdown creating a change in priorities for many, further fuelled by the stamp duty holiday. We were able to make the most of this busy period to progress our impact as a company."
We donated £10,000 to the 999 Club homeless charity
At the end of 2020/21 (our first year with a surplus), we were able to donate £10,000 to our local homeless charity, the 999 Club. The charity provides a warm welcome, support, advice and essential supplies to people experiencing homelessness in South London. (You can read their thank you letter by clicking the 'More information' link at the bottom of this article.)
For the first time in a long while the 999 Club are forecasting a deficit. The pandemic has meant there has been very little community or mass participation events and very little corporate support. These income areas usually help the charity with unrestricted income that can cover their overheads. At the same time, their impact from grants has also been hit, as most charities have been asking for emergency funds so there is less money available. The £10,000 donation from UP is therefore very much needed. (If you too would like to help ensure the 999 Club can continue their vital work, please donate here.)
We've helped raise almost another £10,000 for the 999 Club through fundraising
Since opening three years ago, we’ve helped to raise circa £10,000 for the 999 Club through a range of fundraising activities (including the Thames Trek for the 999 Club and the Prudential RideLondon sponsored cycle), as well as raised awareness for the charity through our website, branch, social media and marketing materials. In 2020/21, we helped local resident Sandra File organise a photography competition in aid of the 999 Club and provided the £200 winner’s prize. 244 entries were received and over £1000 was raised.
As 2020/21 was our first year with a surplus at Urban Patchwork, we also reinvested some surpluses so that we have reserves, as well as funds for recruitment and other business development activities. This will help us ensure we are sustainable and can increase our impact over the longer term.
We're providing a professional and customer-focused service with a human approach
As mentioned above, our other key aim is to provide a professional and personable service and be an example of positive practice in the sector. We are making significant strides in this area too.
Best Estate Agent Guide Gold ‘Exceptional’ Award: We are winners of a Best Estate Agent Guide Award 2020 & 2021 for coming in the top 3% of agencies in the country, rated for ourmarketing, performance and service (based on Rightmove data analysis and 20,000 mystery shops). We received the highest possible 'Exceptional' Gold Award for Sales in 2021 – the only SE16- or SE8-based agency to achieve this.
An average Google rating of 4.9 from 89 reviews: We now have 89 reviews on Google with an average rating of 4.9, and 48 reviews on allAgents with an average rating of 4.8. Here are some recent 5-star reviews from across sellers, buyers, tenants and landlords.
- From seller Dan Reflik: “The Urban Patchwork team demonstrate how imperative local knowledge & expertise are in managing the sale of properties in Surrey Quays. Toby and the team are approachable, efficient, pro-active, and engaging throughout the sale process. Given the complexity of managing a sale through the current climate their guidance and input in trying to accelerate the process was greatly appreciated. Having been jaded by a difficult experience with another agent in the area I can say wholeheartedly that working with Urban Patchwork was without a doubt the best decision I could have made. I couldn’t possibly recommend them any higher and you will not be disappointed if you work with them in the future.”
- From buyer Angus Walker: “Urban Patchwork provided a lot of help in pushing through my purchase when it hit some obstacles. The agency was very responsive and easy to communicate with, and was resourceful in finding solutions to a few difficulties in the transaction. Overall the staff came across as knowledgeable and very experienced. If and when I come to sell, they'd be my first choice.”
- From tenant Viv Radi:“From start to finish Toby & his team were helpful & professional. They made the rental process - from viewing, to making an offer, to moving in, completely seamless & hassle free for me. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. A wonderful agency that really listens to its clients & provides the personal touch & old-fashioned customer service that is all too often missing these days. They will always be my first choice of agents.”
- From landlord Louise Edmunton: “I’m not someone who usually writes reviews but, in this case, I have really wanted to. Urban Patchwork have been a breath of fresh air to work with. When I approached Toby in the summer, I had no idea what I was doing in terms of how to rent my flat but I have been supported all the way through and I really trust that I am in very capable hands. I have had many interactions with other estate agents over the years and had become somewhat jaded by negative experiences, so it takes a lot for me to say that! Urban Patchwork take a lot of time to really do their homework/research so that the advice they give is really personalised to you. It’s also honest and realistic which I’ve valued. When I’ve had any questions or queries, I’ve really appreciated their responsiveness. In summary, I feel like Urban Patchwork take a lot of care in providing a superior/personalised service and I have nothing but good things to say!”
Get Agent data finds we are the most accurate property valuer in our patch
Estate Agent Comparison Website Get Agent finds that in the last six months of property sales they have data for in our patch, Urban Patchwork sales have had the most accurate property valuations at 97.6%. We’ve listed 33 properties (only 1 property behind the agent with the most listed properties), and properties took 13 weeks on average to sell.
Rightmove data shows we outperform many of our competitors
Rightmove sales data shows that we had 69 New Instructions in the last year, with 44 sales agreed (a 64% conversion rate for those sold within that year, and others still on the market at year-end), whereas the market leader (an agency with a much larger team, longer history and many branches) had 118 new instructions and 63 sales agreed (a 54% conversion rate). Our property listings were viewed in detail on average 63.3 times a day, whereas the patch average was 47.4. For property listings of over 13 per branch, we had the most detailed property views per day (and that’s with 69 property listings) - demonstrating the time and care taken to create engaging property listings. For lettings, Rightmove data shows we had 33 new instructions and agreed lets on 28 (a 85% conversion rate), whereas the market leader had 297 new instructions and agreed lets on 203 (a 68% conversion rate) - lettings conversion rates are generally higher than sales due to the lettings process being quicker.
How we are living up to our principles
In addition to the above, some examples of how we go about providing a professional and personable service in relation to our principles include:
- A transparent approach: We're here to sell and let places in the right way – we aim to simplify the process to make it as clear as possible and to minimise surprises.
For example, many agents offer 12-week contracts and if people wish to serve notice, it's a 28-day period added onto that. We want people to use us because they trust we are providing the best service possible. We offer 10-week contracts and people can provide 14-days' notice within that period.
- Experienced professionals: Our Managing Director Toby draws on 17 years’ industry experience to lead a team who take pride in providing outstanding customer service – we use our knowledge, and continue learning, to ensure we're operating in the best way we can.
For example, taking an evidence-based approach to property appraisals (valuations), so vendors and landlords understand the reasoning behind a recommended marketing price and can be sure to make the most of the initial interest generated when the property is first marketed. We don’t just tell people what they want to hear.
- A dynamic service: We listen to your needs and quickly adapt to changing circumstances – our flexible cloud-based systems also ensure our processes always support the services we provide.
For example, having flexible systems meant we were able to adapt quickly during lockdown when the office was closed to ensure we could continue to respond to enquiries and provide a customer-focused service.
- People with integrity: We have an unwavering focus on delivering positive results for all parties – we’re an independent start-up that’s invested our own funds to create a new model of estate agency you can trust.
Read our reviews on Google and allAgents to hear about our customer-focused service.
- A social purpose: We're committed to helping meet more people’s housing needs through using the majority of our surpluses for homeless housing and support or reinvestment.
This is why we donated £10,000 to our local homeless charity the 999 Club in the first year that we’ve had a surplus. Since opening three years ago, we’ve also helped to raise almost £10,000 for the 999 Club through a range of fundraising activities, as well as raised awareness for the charity through our website, branch, social media and marketing materials.
If you too would like to help ensure the 999 Club can continue their vital work, please donate here.More Infomation