Established 130 years ago, and occupying one of Chiswick’s most prominent cornerplots, Sworn & Co prides itself on its roots, and its service. Tim Harrison reports
Family-run and set up in 1879 – the year the lightbulb was invented, Sworn began its illustrious history in Chiswick High Road as AJ Fowkes, dealing with property in Chiswick, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush, Acton, Ealing and Richmond.
In 1992, when old Mr Fowkes retired, the firm moved to the corner site it has occupied for two decades at 194 Chiswick High Road, with all departments under one roof.
For survey help, head upstairs to Barry Sworn’s domain. His son, Tim, is also a surveyor, and handles property management.
Tim’s wife Becky runs lettings, while Sam – Barry’s daughter – also does lettings admin.
Although Stephen Hardy isn’t family, he has been sales manager for the past 18 months, and has 15 years of experience in selling in west and south-west London.
Sworn is one of the few independent estate agents in Chiswick, out of around 25 house-sellers in W4. “Independence means having the freedom to approach things in an individual manner,” said Stephen. “We’re free to offer the service people want, and introductions to the best mortgage brokers... not someone we’re tied to in the office. As a result, in 11 months we haven’t had a sale fall through.”
In the past year, prices of sought-after family homes in Chiswick have risen 10 per cent. “It’s all down to demand,” said Stephen. “The market runs on demand and supply, and as more people move in, demand increases.”
An exodus from Kensington, Notting Hill and Brook Green has fuelled demand, with families moving west on recommendations from friends who discover Chiswick’s shops, restaurant scene, schools, laidback outlook, upbeat mood, culture and transport connections.
How has Chiswick’s housing market altered in the past decade? “When I was first here, nine out of 10 Chiswick people sold homes to other Chiswick people. Then buy-to-letters came in, and now it’s a more diverse group of buyers.”
The coming year is likely to see a continued shortage of one-bed flats and family homes.
Sworn draws on its experience and takes a pride in a level of service steeped in traditional values. “We know the area,” added Stephen. “We can talk to prospective buyers about the schools because children of people in the office go to them.
“A guy came in last Saturday who is relocating here from Australia and wanted to know about schools. We gave him a half-hour chat about them. You wouldn’t get that everywhere!”
Having chartered surveyors in the office is useful, as part of Chiswick’s charm is the quirkiness of many of its properties, and the advice of mexperienced surveyors who know the area is important.
Sworn has a good working relationship with other firms. “If we haven’t got something, but know someone who has, we’ll send them there,” said Stephen. “We always do our best for the person in front of us. Someone came in looking for a commercial unit, and I knew another agent who had one, so I sent him along there. There aren’t many property professionals we don’t get on with!”
That prominent office is a plus too. “We probably have the biggest footfall of any estate agent in Chiswick,” said Stephen. “And we don’t have other offices. Everything is under one roof.”
Sworn & Co is on 020 8995 3076. Office hours are 9am-6pm weekdays and 9am-3pm Saturdays.For further details on Sworn & Co click here
Picture: Stephen Hardy is sales manager at Sworn, with 15 years’ experience in the area.