Meet the Agent: Philip Tottenham from Aubrey & Finn, St Albans

Philip Tottenham, Aubrey & Finn, St Albans (credit: Jeremy Chichester-Miles)

Philip Tottenham, Aubrey & Finn, St Albans (credit: Jeremy Chichester-Miles) - Credit: Archant

A local agent who once dreamed of being a downhill skier, Philip markets properties in St Albans and Switzerland

One of Philip's earliest television memories is of the World Cup at Crans-Montana, Switzerland

One of Philip's earliest television memories is of the World Cup at Crans-Montana, Switzerland - Credit: Archant

What’s different about your agency?

Well – our most competitive difference is that, for extra-detailed property views online, we top the rankings for all 60 or so agents in the AL postcodes - doubling the average number of views. This means vendors effectively get twice the coverage with us, and shows that small independent agencies can compete very effectively.

So that’s a pretty good difference. I think it results from our emphasis on clear communication, and love of good photography.

Besides that – we’re small and agile, and approachable. We’ve competed well because, despite the density of agencies, people still seemed to suffer a questionable client experience. Our aim is to compete strongly on that point, offer clear recommendations and make sure vendors are in control of information. In addition we are very, very good at keeping communication along chains – it seems a lot of agencies won’t take responsibility for this, but for us it’s a fundamental part of our offering.

Crans-Montana and the Rhone Valley

Crans-Montana and the Rhone Valley - Credit: Archant

Where do you live, with whom and why did you choose your current property?

I live with my family just outside the city centre, near Marshalswick. We were looking for a ’60s build – light and bright, well designed - and found it somewhere quiet and convenient. If I’m honest about why I chose it, well – my wife chose it.

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If you weren’t an estate agent, what would you be?

A downhill skier. One of my earliest memories of television is watching the World Cup at Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

Must have been around 1977 and I was mesmerised. The place stuck in my mind ever since. I have tried to emulate this, with varying results.

Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland

Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland - Credit: Archant

When did you buy your first property and what was it like?

2005 – ex-local authority off Hackney Road in London. Total wreck, but excellent investment due to facing south and looking out over gardens, and being in a great location. Lived there, rented it out and finally sold it to fund my purchase in St Albans, to a buyer I’m still in touch with, who still has the same tenants. They must be on their second PhDs now.

What’s the most shocking thing you’ve encountered in this profession?

In truth, not much. You’re up against a degree of cynicism everywhere in life, but this usually turns out to be naivety with a bit of sour grapes, or in some cases lack of attention. However we have a lot of experience - 40 years combined - and probably nose off any funny business long before it happens.

If you could have a holiday home, where would it be?

Switzerland! Either Villars-sur-Ollon, or Crans-Montana. Stunning environments, lovely people. World-class skiing, cycling, walking trails, golf, sailing (there’s a lake – Geneva), road trips around Europe – and Crans-Montana has featured on Tour de France, European Masters Golf and of course World Cup skiing since around… 1977. You can fly very affordably on a small jet into Sion, and be skiing in an hour.

Villars-sur-Ollon is generally quieter and more intimate, but its idyllic orientation towards the magnificent views across the Rhone Valley and the sunshine make it also very much in demand.

I’ve been making enquiries, and as a result now represent some of the most desirable properties for a UK audience – the cream of the crop is ski-in, ski-out. If you’re interested, drop me an email at – or just furnish your dreams by following this link.