“Discretion is a huge part of what we do,” says Mark Parkinson, who founded Middleton with Tom Hudson in 2007. So pressing him on the name of the world-famous musician whose indiscretion indirectly gave Mark his first break as a buying advisor, is futile!
“The first property I ended up advising on for a client, in 1998, had in fact, already sold. But the original buyer – after exchanging contracts – let’s just say that his wife decided she’d read enough about his rock-star lifestyle in the tabloids and so they ended up looking for a way out of the deal. I knew the property was exactly what my client was looking for, so we stepped in and bought the contract.”
“That wasn’t exactly the typical deal,” says Mark. “But I was completely hooked on the idea of property as a bespoke advisory service, where you get to know your client well, where you keep your ear to the ground so that you know when properties that aren’t on the open market might be available.”
Mark learned his trade at Property Vision, where he worked alongside Tom Hudson. “We both loved the prime property business and particularly the opportunity to build relationships with clients. But the idea of running our own business and doing things our own way was a recurring conversation when we’d meet up after work,” says Mark. “We reached a now-or-never moment in 2007 when all the stars aligned in the right place in terms of where we were with our careers and families. We both felt that, for our own prime property business to work, absolute independence was the key. We’ve been insistent on maintaining that.”
So even when Middleton established a London office in 2012, they decided to go it alone, rather than teaming up with a selling agent. “London is much more commercial, less sentimental than the country market, but we felt it was important to maintain the same focus on service and advice that enabled us to differentiate ourselves in the country,” says Mark.
“I spent most of my twenties living and working in London, and I don’t think two weeks have ever passed when I haven’t been in London for one reason or another, so I was really excited to head up our office.”
“I worked on farms for four or five summers when I was at school and trained as a land agent at Harper Adams. But after that first deal came off, there was never much doubt in my mind that I would want to be at the centre of prime property transactions in the longer term.”