What's the story behind your move to Crete and becoming a property agent?
I fell in love with north-west Crete after a holiday here. Then, after visiting many times I came to work for the summer season and never left – that was more than 20 years ago.
Once here I married a Greek and we ran a kafenion – a local bar/coffee shop that is the social hub of a village – for ten years. After my husband had a heart attack, we wound things down and I went to work in the office of a property developer. A few years later I made the move to working for myself.
Have you always worked in property?
No. Before moving to Crete I was a catering manager in the south-west of England.
Describe the last property you sold and the people who bought it.
It was a two-bedroom stone cottage about a ten-minute drive from the sea and with fabulous views over the countryside. On a large piece of land, it had a garden and olive grove. The new owners have bought as a holiday home with a view to moving here full time when they retire. They're planning to extend the property and put in a pool.
Which types of property are you currently selling most of?
Two- to three-bedroom, medium-size family homes with gardens and priced around €200,000 (£171K).
Have you had many memorable moments working as an agent?
One incident that springs to mind is one time when I called a project manager to ask how a property was progressing on behalf of a client. “The skeleton brickwork is all done,” he said. “Really, in that case you'd better call the police immediately,” I replied. “Why,” he asked, sounding a little panicky. “Because all the bricks have been dismantled and removed!” I told him. Unbeknown to him I had called by the property before I made the phone call so knew that he was lying about the progress of the brickwork... Another memorable moment was the first time that Brian Saunders and Andrew Sutton, whose move to Crete was the focus of the Channel 4 series A Place in Greece, explained their concept of the “giant window” to me!
Tell us a bit about your own home?
I live in a small village between Chania and Rethymnon, not far from the seaside resort of Georgioupolis. Our home was originally a chicken farm belonging to my husband's family. We turned it into a home on a shoestring ten years ago. The living space is 200 square metres, while the property's plot is 4,000 square metres and dotted with olive, walnut, pomegranate, orange and lemon trees. And we have chickens, rabbits, geese and ducks.
How involved are you with your local community?
I recently stood in the local elections and so spend a lot of time dealing with council issues, for Greeks as well as expats. The main things expats struggle with communicating about general things and dealing with builders.
How do you wind down when not working?
I am in my second year studying on line with Hull University for a diploma in Maritime History…
In one sentence, what makes a good property agent?
Patience with clients, builders and developers and a good knowledge of the area and Greek bureaucracy. Also an ability to understand what your clients really want – which is not always what they describe initially.
If you weren't selling property in Crete, what would you be doing?
I'd still be in Crete but in what capacity, I am not sure!
Helen runs Landmark-Crete