When Tim Swannie launched Home Hunts in 2005, he envisioned an estate agency that would offer a complete, professional property search service for clients interested in luxury homes across Europe.
An Englishman, Swannie already had years of experience selling upmarket real estate in top luxury markets across the continent.
Yet little more than a decade later Home Hunts has evolved into a premier estate agency for wealthy buyers in search of luxury property in some of Europe’s top vacation locations.
The company, which has won a number of awards for its bespoke service, is managing to expand its presence by offering the kind of local expertise and open, unbiased insight that larger estate agencies rarely do, says Swannie
“Our clients have come to rely on us precisely because they know we have real market insight that caters to their needs,” says Swannie, who founded the company with French national Francois-Xavier de Vial. “That means we really understand and identify what they are looking for rather than steering them towards any particular property or agent.”
Beyond finding luxury homes for its clients, Home Hunts’ real strength continues throughout the buying process and long after the sale has been made. This includes all the day-to-day necessities, such as renovation management, staff recruitment, car purchases, yacht rentals, guidance on the best local schools and healthcare, and getting the most lucrative financial, tax and currency advice.
The firm has long-serviced upmarket clients in affluent locations across France and Monaco, but has expanded its reach to include luxury properties in Geneva, London, New York and Miami. It’s also amassing a growing client list that includes celebrities and corporate boldface names. Home Hunts helped Eric Clapton find a buyer for his €3.25 million stone farmhouse in Provence near the village of Nan-les-Pins.
A fully registered Agent immobilier in France with its own Carte Professionelle, Home Hunts produces an annual report on the French property market and acts for the buyer rather than the seller. The firm works with top selling agents, builders and private owners allowing it to cover the whole property market, Swannie says.
“We do take properties for sale directly but unlike a traditional agent, we are not restricted to the properties on our books and we search the entire market for our clients,” say Swannie, who helped the firm produce a short film that gives an overview of how it helps clients .
Home Hunts expansion comes at a time when more money is flowing into luxury property around the globe. After several years of weakness, luxury homes sales across the globe are surging again.
Sale prices of luxury homes in the second quarter of this year were up 7.5 percent from a year ago, the first time luxury gains have outpaced the rest of the market since 2014, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage which defines luxury as the top 5 percent of the most expensive homes sold in each market.
While Home Hunts primarily focuses on prime areas of luxury market in places from Paris to Provence, to the French Riviera, the firm’s market expertise also direct investors to emerging markets i the luxury sector.
Home Hunts is currently marketing a five-bedroom property in Grasse, the capital of Perfume and the new home of Christian Dior in France. The area is emerging as one of the best places to invest on the Riviera, Swannie says. Beyond its location and panoramic views of the Mediterranean, the property also has an interesting history: it was home to famous American painter Mary Cassatt early in the 20th Century who hosted her friends Degas and Renoir among many others.
“For us, finding value for our clients is a top priority,” says Swannie.” “So we put as much effort into finding emerging luxury markets where their may be more value as we do locating properties in established areas that our clients seek out.”