The Horton and Garton story

It all started with a fax.

It was the summer of 1996, and John Horton knew nothing about property. He did know he owed his mum a lot of money after spending 18 months backpacking around Australia and India. Sick of spending his nights stacking shelves to pay her back, he walked into a local estate agent – hoping to use their fax machine to send off an application to a recruitment agency.

It turned into an impromptu job interview, and two days later – still knowing nothing about property – John was handed the keys to a company car and sent off to value some houses. Twenty years later, he’s still going – but now at his own company, Horton & Garton, which he opened in 2007 after eleven years of working in Hammersmith for a couple of corporate chains.

Opening an estate agency on the brink of a widely anticipated housing crash was seen by many as either gutsy or stupid. To John, it was neither: it was a calculated risk based on the knowledge that a good local reputation goes far.

And while the first six months were challenging – sales were at a trickle, other local agents tried to shut them down, and the whole team had to take a “short term” pay cut – Horton and Garton has been on the up ever since. Today, Horton & Garton’s local reputation gets them called out to over 90% of sales and rental valuations in the Hammersmith area. The founding team is still in place, and they’re being joined by so many new recruits they’re having to expand the office to house them all.

Given such an unexpected start to his career, it’s no surprise that John doesn’t consider himself a typical estate agent. He favours building relationships over hard-sell tactics, and he’s swapped the branded car for a bicycle (he used to walk, but all the people stopping him for a chat were making him late for appointments).

The Trusted London Estate Agent

And as an atypical estate agent himself, John prides himself on hiring staff who don’t fit the mould either. “A lot of agencies are driven by targets and testosterone,” he says. “I just want a customer to walk in and think, ‘These are the kind of people I want walking around my house.'”

He also insists that his staff live locally, and makes sure all are fully accredited with the NFOPP, NAEA and ARLA schemes.

After living in Hammersmith for twenty years and raising his family here, John’s love of the area hasn’t waned. “As a parent, it’s fantastic that there’s the park, the river, and your kids can walk to great schools. It’s a breeze to get into town, and there are so many little pockets which each have their own identity. We see a lot of people moving within Hammersmith, rather than away.”

“Ultimately it’s the people that make an area, and I hope they think of us as the trusted local agent that’s an important part of the fabric of Hammersmith. If we can achieve that, I’ll be happy.”

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