Horton and Garton - Chiswick

It all started with a fax.

It was the summer of 1996, and John Horton knew nothing about property. He did know he owed his mum a lot of money after spending 18 months backpacking around Australia and India. Sick of spending his nights stacking shelves to pay her back, he walked into a local estate agent – hoping to use their fax machine to send off an application to a recruitment agency.

It turned into an impromptu job interview, and two days later – still knowing nothing about property – John was handed the keys to a company car and sent off to value some houses. Twenty two years later, he’s still going – but now at his own company, Horton and Garton, which he opened in 2008 after eleven years of working in Hammersmith for a couple of corporate chains.

Opening any estate agency on the brink of a widely anticipated housing crash was seen by many as either gutsy or stupid. To John, it was neither: it was a calculated risk based on the knowledge that a very good local reputation goes far.

And while the first six months were challenging – sales were at a trickle, other local agents tried to shut them down, and the whole team had to take a “short term” pay cut – Horton and Garton has been on the up ever since. Today, Horton and Garton’s local reputation gets them called out to over 90% of sales and rental valuations in the Hammersmith area. The founding team is still in place, and they’re being joined by so many new recruits they’re having to expand the office to house them all.

Given such an unexpected start to his career, it’s no surprise that John doesn’t consider himself a typical estate agent. He favours building relationships over hard-sell tactics, and he’s swapped the branded car for a bicycle (he used to walk, but all the people stopping him for a chat were making him late for appointments).