Insider view: Ele Robertson, who matches house buyers with their dream rural residences for Savills in Edinburgh

Job title Associate director at Savills in its residential country house team based in Edinburgh. The areas we cover include the Lothians, Borders, Perthshire, Fife and Stirlingshire.
Savills are currently marketing luxury apartments at the refurbished Hamilton Grand in St Andrews. Ele assures us it has views that are “beyond comparison”Savills are currently marketing luxury apartments at the refurbished Hamilton Grand in St Andrews. Ele assures us it has views that are “beyond comparison”
Savills are currently marketing luxury apartments at the refurbished Hamilton Grand in St Andrews. Ele assures us it has views that are “beyond comparison”

I help Savills’ head of Scottish country houses, Jamie Macnab, and our Perthshire expert, Stephanie Clarke, sell country houses and castles by communicating closely with clients and potential buyers.

How did you get started? It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind!

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I left school in 2013 and decided against going to university, I spent three days with Savills on work experience and I absolutely loved it.

Ele RobertsonEle Robertson
Ele Robertson

The following year, I was delighted to be offered a summer assistant role in the Country Houses team –and I have stayed here ever since.

I was promoted two years later to associate, and then again last year to associate director.

What is your typical day like? What I love about this industry is that every single day is different, as you never know what is going to be thrown your way.

Having a structure and being organised is therefore absolutely key.

I tend to get into the office for around 8am, so that I can work my way through my emails and enquiries.

We start our day with a team meeting at 9am to discuss our objectives and how we’re going to meet them.

I then follow up with buyers who viewed properties the previous day, before catching up with as many of our clients as possible. And hopefully discussing some offers with them.

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I always make sure that I find out as much as I possibly can from our buyers about their aspirations, and then match them with properties that I think they will like.

In short, 99 per cent of my job is about listening and communicating.

What has been the biggest challenge or worst time in the business? The biggest challenge was the huge workload following the re-opening of the market after Lockdown One.

The market was brimming with pent-up demand and we all worked very long hours for months.

But there was a fantastic buzz and the team worked brilliantly together, despite being remote from one another.

It’s something I will remember for the rest of my career.

What is your favourite type of property to sell? Houses or flats with superb views over hills or water, especially in Perthshire or St Andrews.

The apartments at the Hamilton Grand inSt Andrews are stand-out properties among those Savills are marketing at the moment.

There has been a huge renovation on this historic building which now has a grand reception hall and concierge, a private lounge for residents and a sensational roof terrace.

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The views from up there, over the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the Old Course and over the West Sands and out to sea, are beyond comparison.

It is a unique property and I love the reaction of viewers. It is special and perhaps there’s no surprise that buyers from all over the world fall in love with it.

Where do you live? Although I was brought up in the country, my partner, Lewis, and I are currently in the midst of renovating our flat overlooking the Meadows in Edinburgh.

I’m sure we’ll upsize eventually but, for now, I’ve got the renovation bug – we might do some more of that first, perhaps with buying-to-let in mind.

Developing an extreme property obsession is what this job does to you!

Does your job affect your social life?You do have to work the odd weekend and evening, especially if you are negotiating a sale, but it’s important to have a good work/social life balance.

Although when someone’s sale is in your hands – essentially their future – staying late is a no-brainer.

I do find myself talking with friends and family a lot about buying and selling property, everyone wants the inside view.

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But, as we’ve already touched on, it’s my obsession so I’m more than happy talking about houses.

What advice would you give someone wanting to work in the industry. What are the best routes in? Savills has superb apprenticeship and internship schemes – all the details are on our website – and they are designed to offer the training, experience and support you need to build a fulfilling career in all sorts of different areas of the business.

I’d also suggest that you should network as much as you can and try and get work experience with as many companies as possible.

What do you do in your spare time? I’m an active person and really enjoy playing tennis and boot camp fitness classes. I spend a lot of my time with friends and family and we’re enjoying the fact that the Edinburgh Fringe is back.

Pre-Covid, I loved a city break, and I’m looking forward to discovering new places in Europe and beyond again soon.

How is the market in 2021? As has been widely reported, the race for space by home buyers has been a huge feature of the pandemic, bringing country living back in to fashion.

The hybrid model of home and office working is fuelling the market and we’re run off our feet.

Many of our buyers are leaving city jobs in London and all over the UK, recognising the comparative value for money available in rural locations and quality of life.

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They are amazed that you can buy a castle here for the price of a modest London home.

A new quirk in the rural market is an uptick in demand for contemporary homes that are less expensive to run, and perhaps less daunting than period properties for some urban buyers.

Our biggest issue at present is stock – well presented, well-priced homes in country locations are not staying on the market long, so we need to keep replenishing what we have to sell.

Life file

Born and raised In Comrie, Perthshire

Education I went to Fettes College in Edinburgh and then decided against going to university. For me, that was one of the best decisions I have made in my life so far.

Family I live with my boyfriend, Lewis. He works in banking in Edinburgh. My family also live in the Capital and are in the drinks industry.

First home Bought when I was 23.

Plans for retirementI am very early on in my career, so it is difficult to say. I can’t see myself leaving Edinburgh for a long time to come –I love it too much, and it’s so easy to get out in the gorgeous Scottish countryside from here.

Personal motto Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine...

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