The 'perfect gentleman of property' retires after 34 years
- Credit: Archant
He's given Norfolk people a glimpse through the keyhole of some of the county's finest houses for more than three decades.
Now, Louis de Soissons, head of residential at Savills in Norwich, is retiring after 34 years.
Renowned for sporting his tweed jacket and penchant for beautiful Georgian architecture, Mr de Soissons has not only led, but enthused the residential team in the city's Savills office.
His appreciation and extensive knowledge of wonderful architecture, and his enthusiasm for the homes he's selling has made him a well-known and respected country agent across the county.
Mr de Soissons, who has led the residential team at Savills in Norwich since 1993, originally worked in London before returning to his Norfolk roots and switching to a career in estate agency in 1987.
Natalie Howlett-Clarke and Ben Rivett, both associate directors at Savills in Norwich, will be taking over from him.
Mr de Soissons said: “It has been tremendous fun and I will miss it immensely. It’s been a huge pleasure to lead such a talented and committed team and I wish Natalie and Ben every success.
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"The department could not be in safer hands. I won’t be disappearing completely – I will be continuing with Savills in a consultancy role.
"However, I’d always planned to retire at 60 if I had the chance and earlier this year I made the decision that it was the right time to take a step back.
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"It’s certainly not quite how I imagined my final months would be particularly as many of us are working remotely and we can’t all be in the office together.
"But against all expectations the property market has performed incredibly well.
"When we emerged from lockdown there was a great deal of pent up demand and the country market is now the strongest it has been for many years.
"It’s rather fitting that I’m retiring at a time when country houses are once again at the forefront of buyers’ minds.”
Mr de Soissons has been a major influence in the local property market, being a founding member of the NDAEA, Norwich & District Association of Estate Agents.
He also took part in Archant's Home to Home weekly property programme on Mustard TV.
Mr de Soissons, who is married with four sons and lives in north Norfolk, continued: “I’ve had the privilege of meeting some truly wonderful people – many of whom are now very good friends.
"A house is the largest, single most important asset that someone is likely to own. You are dealing with people at a stage in their lives that is highly emotive and you have to be incredibly sensitive to that.
"The fact that someone trusts you enough to handle that transaction time and time again is a huge compliment.
"Technology has made it easier for people to search for properties online and use the internet as a shop window, but the personal touch and building relationships with clients is still very important.
"Particularly this year we have sold a lot of houses privately to people who are already on our database.”
Speaking about his plans for the future, Mr de Soissons continued: “I’ve always said this job is either ‘full time on’ or ‘full time off’, it’s not a part time occupation.
"I’m looking forward to having a bit of a break, spending some time with my family and enjoying my garden, as well as travelling when we can and taking up the piano again.”
Commenting on their joint appointment, Mrs Howlett-Clarke and Mr Rivett said: “Louis has been a great mentor, a magnificent colleague and a trusted agent to his clients.
"Under his guidance the residential department has gone from strength to strength and we are delighted that he has agreed to remain part of the team in an advisory role.
"We are looking forward to building on what he has achieved and helping the office to meet its plans for the future.”