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Pascal Duffy – why always putting customer needs first pays off!



How did you decide to start First Estates? What makes the company different?

First Estates came from the desire to create an innovative real estate service on the Sofia market that is strongly focused on customer experience. This is visible through our online platform which offers a variety of possible searches to locate your property. This varies from the classical map, to the possibility to draw the relevant area on the map of Sofia or to look for properties located in close proximity to your location. Also, we believe in giving a wide range of detail in our property descriptions – from professionally taken property pictures to a 360 virtual tour of the property, a full description of each room, a floor plan and approximate location. We want our clients to get a realistic understanding of the property on offer and help them find their desired property quickly and with ease.

What makes us different is perhaps our business model. We built the company around the idea of providing an innovative service range, an easy to use search platform, and personalized support at each step of developing our clients’ real estate projects. I believe you should choose to work with a property consultant for his knowledge and capacity to defend your interests as a customer and not run around 10 different agencies just because you like a property in their portfolio. As an agency we look at the whole market for our clients and do not hesitate to work interagency for the benefit of our customers. When you meet with one of our consultants you will be brought to answer many questions which will allow us to determine what you are looking for with great precision and avoid wasting your time with unnecessary viewings.

What is your target client?

Our clients come from a diverse range of backgrounds, nationalities and ages. In general we look to offer residential properties in the most desirable, Southern areas of Sofia (City Center, Lozenets, Iztok, Ivan Vazov, etc.) We focus on various property types: new build, resale or properties for renovation, but with the potential of becoming a very desirable home for our clients, whether to live in or as an investment. On the other hand, I would like to mention that we also just opened a retail and office department in First Estates under the management of Mira Karabiberova, a well-known real-estate professional in the retail and commercial field for the last 15 years. 

How do you guarantee that you offer the best quality of service to your clients?

Our main focus remains real estate services and as I explained above we concentrate on the client’s needs and wants as well as assessing how realistic they are and whether we should refocus their efforts, based on budget. This is a process that can take up to a few months, which we are happy to invest in each customer. However, I believe our best asset is in offering an all-round comprehensive range of customer services by adding architectural services through our in-house architect, professional property valuations, property management, mortgage brokerage, legal advances and even insurance policies through our exclusive partnership with NetIns Brokers.

What are your predictions on the future of the property market in Bulgaria? Is it a time to buy, or to sell, and why?

Before looking to the future, I can certainly say that the property market in Sofia has been picking up over the last 6 months. There has been a big increase in the number of enquiries for property acquisitions, as well as a significant increase in the number of transactions taking place. This goes to show we are definitely moving out of the recession times and prices have been stabilizing. If this return to a stable environment for real estate transactions continues, I believe we will see a slow increase in prices over the first 6 months of 2015. For sure we will not be coming back to pre-crisis levels soon; however we can expect a realistic 5 to 7% increase for 2015 and perhaps even more depending on the area. You can read more about our projections for 2015 on our company blog.

We would like to thank our friends at Vagabond for the lovely interview!

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