Metro Village is an independent property agent based in Maple Quays in Canada Water. Ching Tang who founded the company in 2011 heads them up and won the female Agent of the Year at The Wharf‘s Property Awards 2016. Alongside her, the team were also named winners in another two categories so the agency is on the up and up. We met in her offices and went for a coffee at the nearby Canada Water Café.
I started by asking Ching how the business had started. “I’ve been working in the property industry since 2007. In that time many things have changed, not least the crash of 2008, the huge rise in property prices and the Brexit vote. I worked as a partner for several years in another local agency. In 2011, I decided to strike out on my own and started Metro Village. I moved back home to Islington with my son and got on with refurbishing the unit in Toronto House. It took absolutely ages but by the end of 2011, we were able to open.”
“…Excluded teenagers come to work with us for six weeks at a time and we give them a practical introduction to working life…”
Easing the way
Metro Village has strong links with south-east Asia. Whilst the cost of property here is high, in Hong Kong and Singapore the prices are still higher. As a result, since 2010 property investors from mainland China and Malaysia as well as Hong Kong and Singapore are looking to buy property in London. The welcome they get here is warm and the property market has offered a good return on that investment in recent years. Ching speaks fluent Cantonese and so the company has been able to develop a specialist service for Chinese cash purchasers. Recently, the company has noticed visas are becoming harder to obtain for overseas students already in London. As a result, the number of Chinese mainland residents in SE16 is declining.
“Our customer service is second to none,” says Ching. “We have a young and vibrant team who are passionate about giving each customer an excellent experience and offer both our rental and sales customers something distinctive. We currently have a balance of two lettings to each sale and so we are able to offer our overseas customers a detailed understanding of the London market. As a result, we continue to get many word-of-mouth referrals from many satisfied customers.”
Metro Village has been active in the local community since the start. They funded and built a new duck house at Surrey Docks Farm and more recently have sponsored Peter Hills Primary School so their astro-turf pitch could be renewed. The Friends of Peter Hills contacted the agency because the school needed urgently to raise £24,000 or their playground would be closed. Metro Village made an immediate donation of £2,000 and agreed to help the school raise the remainder from fund-raising events over the summer.
“…The welcome they get here is warm and the property market has offered a good return on that investment in recent years…”
“It’s not all about money,” says Ching. “Now the business is bedded in, we want to make a real contribution to our local community. That takes both time and money. Last Christmas we collected spare clothes and passed them on to Crisis at Crystal Palace for people who faced homelessness or lack of heating in their homes. We also have a work experience placement from a school in Tower Hamlets. We offer the teenagers an introduction to the working environment and a daily routine for six weeks at a time. It’s all part of creating a better and more welcoming London for everyone to enjoy.”