Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Philip Johnston returns to estate agency in East Belfast, rescuing MCW Residential

Philip Johnston estate agent (c) BBC

For years, Philip Johnston Estate Agents dominated the market in East Belfast. We bought one house from them, and sold another through them.

Allegations of money laundering were made against Philip Johnston during a police probe into the financial affairs of murdered loyalist Jim Gray. All the charges against Johnston were dropped by the Public Prosecution Service in August 2006.

MCW Residential logo

However, it was too late to save Johnston’s business reputation. Following his arrest back in April 2005, he sold off the estate agency business to three of the other managers (whose surnames began with M C and W!), and it morphed into MCW Residential, with offices currently in Ballyhackamore, Belmont and Dundonald.

Now, he’s making a comeback, with the news this morning that Johnston’s buying a substantial part of MCW Residential, effectively gaining back control of his old business. The Newsletter reports Johnston saying that MCW Residential was in “severe financial difficulties”. His intervention should secure the future of the 18 staff.

In the Belfast Telegraph, Johnston explains:

“I believe I have the experience behind me and the team to take this business back to its former success as a market leader in a personalised one-to-one estate agency service … It is widely recognised within the estate agency business that an experienced agent works best in a slow market.”

The Newsletter story includes a wonderful quote from Johnston:

He said that while some estate agents, in particular younger agents, had “enjoyed the benefits of a rising market, and quite frankly during the boom period a stray dog could have sold properties, they have been singularly unimaginative when the going has got tough”.


Anonymous said...

It's like an adult fairy story.

"The people didn't like the goblin, so they sent him away and took his things. Winter came, and the people realised only the goblin had the gift of fire. They begged him to return, as they were freezing to death. The goblin came back, and they all lived happily ever after".

Timothy Belmont said...

W B Yeats? :-)

Anonymous said...

That's bad news; I have a rental with MCW and I don't think much of Johnston.

It's hard to sympathise with estate agents generally but they will have to face the fact that the market is going to get tougher before it gets easier.

By the way does anyone know anything about the disappearance of Jeff Raine & Co from Ballyhackamore? He was a nice guy - which is perhaps why he finished last and his business closed.

The new branch of Templeton Robinson which replaced Raine's office must be a millstone around the company's neck at the moment. New branches take a long time to pay back at the best of times. Enquiring with a friend of a friend, the official line is "they have lots of properties on their books" - ah, but how many are selling? I certainly can't recall seeing a forest of Templeton Robinson signs going up around east Belfast in recent months.