This week we are shining the spotlight on Vanilla Property Management. We spoke to Greame, Chris and Peter to find out more about the business.
Q1. Tell us a little about yourself, your business, and what kind of properties you handle
Graeme Fairgreave (GF) – Recently married to Kirsty. Have an adorable rescue dog, Alfie, who keeps us both on our toes, and an African Pygmy hedgehog, Boris. I have recently retired from playing 1st XV rugby due to injury, so now like to spend my spare time on the golf course.
Having worked with both Chris and Peter individually, I am delighted that we have formed a strong team together, where we believe we can make a big impact on the Property Management industry in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
We manage a wide variety of properties from 1 bedroom flats in the heart of Edinburgh, to glorious 7 bedroom detached properties in East Lothian.
Chris McGhie (CM) – Married to Fran with two fantastic children Francesca and Kyle. Francesca loves to dance and Kyle is a superb rugby player and I love to support them in their activities.
In my spare time I enjoy fishing and playing golf. I have played rugby all my days and still enjoy playing in an occasional game at North Berwick. I formed Vanilla 15 years ago as a building company. 2017 We put together an experienced management team and created Vanilla Property Management.
Our management company was built on the foundation of a belief in quality of service and honesty, transparency and no hidden charges. We understand that a single point of contact and continuity between agent landlord and tenant is key to happy working relationships. We handle all types of properties over the Lothians.
Peter Thompson (PT) – I live with my partner Ruth and have 2 very feisty children Molly and Alex and the dumbest dog in the world Yoshi. Having my own Property Management company became a goal of mine in recent years having done it for so long. I realized there was a lot I would do differently as well as incorporating the better practices I had learned for the benefit of the client and my conscience. I had worked with Graeme before in the property sector who is very much the yin to my yan (less impulsive than me) so I thought getting into business with him would be good for us both. Greame introduced me to Chris and after discussions we realized we had a shared vision of providing top quality service whilst being completely transparent. I guess we are on a mission to clean up certain aspects of the industry that have diluted trust between agents, clients and tenants.
Q2. What made you get into the property business?
GF – While studying a Finance degree at The University of Edinburgh, I began working with Chris McGhie during the summer break. Having been given an insight into the property industry, I was keen to explore further and upon graduation decided to take up a position as an Assistant Property Manager with Edinburgh’s largest Agent.
PT – About 11 years ago I stumbled into a job at a large agency where I had to look after quite a lot of student accommodation. I have been in the thick of things ever since, Over the years I have been involved in most situations that you can think of, some very good and some very, very bad. All a learning curve though. The beauty of this job is that no day is ever the same. Like it or lump it you are dealing with people’s lives and lifestyles which also brings with it an element of chaos. I have learned to react well to chaos.
CM – Having renovated, altered and extended properties for many different types of clients and property owners over the years, I felt it was a natural progression with our knowledge and understanding of buildings and client expectation to be able to offer an honest property management service for individuals wishing to rent out their investments.
Q3. What is your favourite property you’ve had?
GF – With my previous employer, we used to manage a fantastic fully renovated townhouse on Northumberland Street in the New Town of Edinburgh, which was simply stunning. It kept the traditional character of an old Edinburgh property, but having been recently refurbished, had a really modern feel. In addition, the landlord and new tenants, were very pleasant which made the management of the property all the more enjoyable.
CM – Gateside House in Gullane. It’s a stunning modern living house close to the beach and the golf courses.
PT – I looked after a famous footballer’s property for a while. Before he moved out I had to have a look round and it was fascinating, the lifestyle, the extravagance and also discovering that the chap in question seemed to support his own teams arch rival. A beautiful family home none the less.
Q4. What’s the best thing about the area you operate in?
CM – The best thig about our operating area is the diversity of architecture, the lifestyle and the stunning views. Edinburgh is a buzzing and pretty city complimented by the amazing beaches and sea side towns of East Lothian. The whole area has something for everyone whether its wakeboarding or playing golf on one of the multitude of fantastic golf courses.
GF – Edinburgh and the Lothians offers such a range of activities, throughout the year so is an ideal place to live or even just spend a few days/nights. Whatever you enjoy, whether it be a relaxing walk in the countryside, a quite round of golf, the hustle and bustle of a busy city centre or a fantastic Hogmanay celebration, Edinburgh and the Lothians has it all to offer.
PT – I believe Edinburgh and the Lothians to be one of the most beautiful areas in the UK and therefore feel blessed that I can ply any trade here. The architecture is second to none, the people are also a big reason. There fantastic and they have been fantastic with me.
Q5. What advice would you give to someone looking for a rental property?
GF – My advice to anyone looking for a rental property would be to shop around. The Edinburgh market is very busy at the moment so there is a large number of properties available at any one time, and the properties will change on almost a daily basis, so keep an eye out. This advice is the same for everyone who is looking, whether tenants or landlords. With the market being so busy, we encourage our landlords to keep their properties maintained to a high standard which will allow them to, in turn, attract great tenants.
CM – Take your time and have a proper look at the location you wish to live in.
PT – Have an idea of what and where you want to be but don’t let your aspirations hold you back. With rented accommodation, you have to compromise sometimes. It’s very rare you get a property that ticks all the boxes. I have seen a lot of good people miss out on good properties because all the boxes were not ticked and when they realize that the perfect property is an elusive thing they return to take the property that was a 9/10 and it’s gone. From May to October in the Edinburgh area when peak season kicks in – if you see a property you like that you can envision yourself living in, take it and take it now because someone else will.
Q6. What did you do before you got into this business?
PT – I have done many things since leaving college from selling mobile phones, managing a shop, worked in factories to working at Standard Life. I have always just been happy to have a job but only when I got into the property sector did I feel that I have discovered my vocation.
GF – Before starting our Property Management company, I was working with Chris on the building services arm of Vanilla Homes, and had previously been working with Edinburgh’s largest letting Agent, as one of their Senior Property Managers.
CM – I left school and went into the military. In 2000 I left the services and worked in construction as a contracts manager for a large construction company. Having gained experience in this role I decided to give it a go myself and in 2005 formed Vanilla. I started with a couple of plots of land in the Scottish Borders and built two houses to sell and from that expanded into the domestic extension and renovation sector.
Q7. What would be a good night out in your area?
GF – Edinburgh and the Lothians has a lot to offer in terms of evening entertainment. With so many fantastic restaurants in the city, and the nearby towns, it is difficult not to indulge in a nice meal on any night out. Similarly, there are a great number of bars, and whatever your taste, you will be sure to find one that suits you.
CM – Having a superb meal in one of the hundreds of great restaurants and a few drinks in one of the bars.
PT – Honestly – I couldn’t tell you. Between working and my kids I don’t really get chance to get out. However, I am partial to a few beers and a bit of live music in Whistle Binkies if I am allowed out to play.
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