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.
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”.