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Interview with The Times of Malta

22 July 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013, 19:38 by
Joanna Ripard
Finance professional opens London real estate company
Burlingtons Real Estate proprietor Nicholas Portelli says the company is aimed at international investors.
Former Global Capital chief executive Nicholas Portelli has established Burlingtons Real Estate, a real estate search and acquisition specialist based in Chelsea.
Having been based in London for the past few years after taking up his previous post as British American vice-president of international asset and fund management, Mr Portelli developed a keen interest in property activity and soon decided he wanted to be part of it.
Burlingtons Real Estate is focused on helping clients to find properties with the most desirable addresses in central London, including Notting Hill, Mayfair and Knightsbridge.
“My training and experience in investments and in dealing with high net worth clients helped me develop a service model that is typical of private banks and family offices and apply it to the property market,” Mr Portelli told Times of Malta.
“I wouldn’t say that the prime central London property market is a challenging market, rather a dynamic and competitive one. Investor appetite for prime residential property is very high and demand by far outpaces supply, so finding the right property is often more of a challenge than demand itself.”
Mr Portelli added that the common factor among Burlingtons Real Estate’s clients is that they are all international investors who do not have the local knowledge and time to look for property – they require professional service providers to acquire properties either as a pied a terre in London or as part of an international portfolio.
This demand is driven by the stability London offers and the consistent appreciation of prices. Central London attracts investors from around the world and operating in such a large market was a valuable opportunity, he said.
Burlingtons Real Estate is positioning itself by sourcing unique properties for clients and ensuring that transactions are finalised seamlessly. Service levels will typically lead to referrals – the best source of new business, Mr Portelli emphasised.
Mr Portelli explained that London had been on his and his wife’s mind for a while and opportunities came their way, making it possible for them to fulfil their ambition two years ago.
“For my wife, pursuing a Phd in her field of specialisation was always a dream and the UK and the US were top of the list, mainly because of the availability of resources and research infrastructure,” he explained. “When we moved to London in 2010, there was an opening for her at the Heart Hospital, which is part of UCL, and one for me at the London office of British American. This is where the chairman of Global Capital and of other subsidiaries of British American are based, so I joined the team there and took on responsibility for the group’s international asset and fund management activities.”
Mr Portelli said being non-British in London was an advantage rather than a challenge: over 50 per cent of people living in the capital are foreign and over 60 per cent of property buyers are also non-British, so client and service provider have significant things in common.
Mr Portelli fosters relationships with clients and with key players in the market, while administrative matters are entrusted to an associate. Burlingtons Real Estate has amassed a network of service providers like finance, legal and tax professionals to support its efforts to provide a seamless service to clients.
Asked how he envisaged the business’s growth, Mr Portelli replied that referrals and networking would play a major part, particularly as it was a trust-based model.
“Other media, like the internet are not that effective as clients usually wish to establish a relationship of trust which usually comes about if you are referred or if you meet clients through a contact you have in common,” Mr Portelli said.

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