Interview: Daniel Daggers on confidence, social media & the future of real estate

By PrimeResi Editor

'Confidence is the key to success': PrimeResi meets Mr Super Prime to discuss, well, everything.

In conversation with PrimeResi, superstar luxury property broker Daniel Daggers, aka ‘Mr Super Prime’, discusses his rise to the top, key industry trends, and the ambitious plans for his new venture…

You began your property career at the tender age of 17; what were the big lessons you learned early on?

‘People trust people and buy from people’

Hard work pays. I worked my way up from a work experience placement at a local estate agency all the way to where I am now. If you’ve the commitment and tenacity, I truly believe that you can achieve success.

Putting the client and customer at the centre of your service is also a core ethos I’ve learnt over the years, whilst understanding that in every market there lies an opportunity, and even more so in tougher markets.

Throughout my career I’ve learnt to be able to identify and seize these opportunities to my advantage.

Your social media presence is impressive (currently over 53k followers on Instagram); does this generate new business directly or is it more about brand-building?

It’s about both. In my first year of business, social media alone created £1mn of revenue. I recognised the power of social media many years ago, and the opportunity it presented for real estate. People trust people and buy from people.

In my first year of business, social media alone created £1mn of revenue

High-net-worth individuals are increasingly turning to social channels as both a source of information but also a place to connect, build relationships and do business. And this will continue as new, digital native generations of wealth mature. An individual’s social media channels combine global reach with essential credibility and trust – it’s possibly one of the most powerful and effective marketing channels there is.

You previously worked for Knight Frank, a major corporate operation; how have you found the process of building a team and brand, and do you have any tips for others going the independent route?

A brand is only as ever as good as its talent, which is why people are front and centre of DDRE Global and we’re one of the most diverse teams in the industry. It started with me at my kitchen table in early 2020 and gradually attracted others, intrigued by the prospect of doing things differently and inspired by what we wanted to achieve: a client service- centred approach and the opportunity for more talent in this industry to succeed.

Now, two years in, we’re a team of 12, soon to grow to 20. For anyone going independent, take social media very seriously – the people you can communicate and build relationships with are essential to your success.

Your departure from KF received national press coverage; how did you deal with the attention, and did it have an impact on you personally – or professionally?

It was a really difficult time and, of course, a disappointing way to have concluded 12 years of my life’s dedication, especially after having achieved so much for both the business and for myself. But evolution is sometimes hard to deal with and can lead to friction.

The move freed me to really pursue what I knew was the future

Two years on, it has only served to reinforce my belief in what I am doing and drive me forward. The move freed me to really pursue what I knew was the future and the experience itself prepared me for bigger challenges, obstacles and of course opportunities.

Your approach is closer to the US model than a traditional UK estate agent; what do you think the UK industry could learn from the States, and vice versa?

We can learn a tremendous amount from other countries and how they have shaped their real estate industries. It’s not only the US that takes this approach: Asia, Australia, and most of Europe work using a similar model. The UK sector is notoriously slow to evolve, almost resistant. Even in the face of seismic market and consumer change, it sticks to tradition. But it can’t do so for much longer. As the success of this alternative model shows, the agents, advisors and brokers on the front line have the power.

People trust people and are increasingly prioritising the individual over the brand when it comes to choosing who they do business with.

Networking is like oxygen

We can also learn to understand the true value of relationship-building, both in person and digitally – networking is like oxygen. Cross industry referrals are also more important than ever now, and marketing has fundamentally changed – an email blast to prospective clients is no longer good enough.

How different do you think the UK estate agency industry will look in ten years time? If you were in charge for the day, what one policy change would you make to improve the way the market works?

Over the next decade the use of social media within the industry will become paramount, as will the value of personal relationships between agents and their clients. There is so much power and potential in collaboration, much more than there is in competition, and I think we will see more alternatives starting up and new developments coming forward that will drive this exponentially in coming years.

So much of our industry in the UK is run on stress and anxiety

If I was in charge for the day, I would look to bring in licensing – similar to what is used in the US. So much of our industry in the UK is run on stress and anxiety because there are such little boundaries to enter the industry and maintain the parameters of excellence. There are too many loopholes that allow individuals to move into grey areas, and if we were to take these away, we would be able to watch the industry flourish with entrepreneurs. I’d like to see a code of conduct introduced that people adhere to, which involves implementing a business model that allows individuals to represent their clients, whilst ensuring there are higher levels accountability and therefore higher levels of trust.

Current DDRE Global listings include a house on London’s Hamilton Terrace (OIRO £27mn)

What do today’s HNW buyers most value in a property agent/broker, and how is the broker-client relationship evolving?

Today’s HNW buyers value individual people, and it is the trust and confidence they have in these individuals over brands that is so important – even more so when you reach the top end of the market or are dealing with uncertain times. The broker-client relationship is constantly evolving to become far more personalised, as clients want to know and trust that their agent is acting in their best interests, rather than that of the agent’s remit or corporate brand – you have to be accountable and add value to create an authentic client relationship that lasts.

Nearly 40% of properties you’ve sold in the last decade have been off-market; what’s driving this trend and do you foresee more vendors opting to go under the radar in the future?

At this end of the market, it is fundamentally the discretion and convenience I offer sellers that is a key factor in driving off-market sales, plus the premium it can command. The increasing use and innovation in tech is also driving off market sales.

When it comes to more vendors opting to go under the radar in the future, this is already happening now, thanks to the network effect of all agents knowing one another and having to work collaboratively. This will continue at pace, unless authorities do what they have done in California for example and bring in rules that restrict off market selling.

This DDRE instruction in Regent’s Park is guided at £11.95mn

Your CV also includes ‘mentor’ – how important is this role to you and did you have anyone to guide you when you were starting out?

The role of being a mentor is extremely important – it is my passion to help people. I realised whilst at my previous firm that I could spot and nurture talent and I’ve been lucky enough to watch some of the people I’ve mentored become incredibly successful, which has been extremely rewarding. I really want people to lead more successful lives, and if I can use my knowledge to help others, then there is no better feeling – this ethos in turn helped to shape me and made me a good advisor.

When I started out in my career, I didn’t really have a mentor per-se, but I had a closeknit network of important people who I would continually learn from because I was unbelievably inquisitive. This network was a combination of other agents I admired, alongside several of my clients, who are some of the smartest people I know, and to this day I still go to them for advice.

You recently launched the Daniel Daggers Academy, offering training in real estate skills; what does the course cover, and what has the pick-up been like so far?

Bringing the Daniel Daggers Academy into fruition has without a doubt been a passion project. I’ve been lucky to have the support of Aisha from my team, who has really helped drive this with me, which has been incredible.

The uptake so far has been great. We’ve seen positive messages from our community around them winning more and more business which is fantastic, but having said that, there is always room for improvement.

We are building the academy out so that it can support agents and service providers in their careers. It will look to give them the skillset and confidence to tackle obstacles, whether that be how to best negotiate, through to how a UNHWI thinks and how to build and create a community over multiple digital channels.

I’ve walked the journey that most will have to at some point in their careers – from selling 80k apartments to some of the most expensive homes across the world and, pioneering the use of social media for my industry – so why keep the techniques a secret? I want to share and support others, as there is nothing that I find more fulfilling.

You have been behind some of the most notable PCL transactions of recent years; can you talk us through a particularly memorable deal, and how it came about?

There are many deals that I can’t and won’t talk about – but let’s just say that what you don’t see or read about is in many instances a lot more interesting than the ones you do!

Are there any new residential developments – in the UK or internationally – you have been particularly impressed by recently?

I’m very impressed by the major super prime developments in London. I truly believe that we do it better here than many other global UHNW markets – much better in fact. The quality of the build and finish in London is exemplary and each new super-prime development is more exciting and innovative than the last.

‘I truly believe that we do it better here than many other global UHNW markets – much better in fact’

How do HNW clients prefer to engage professionally in 2022; are most tech-savvy or do some prefer the old school approach?

When it comes to engaging with HNW and UHNW clients, you attract what you put out. At DDRE Global, we are a very forward thinking and contemporary business who are ahead of the curve when it comes to being tech and media savvy, so we naturally attract this kind of client base. So much wealth is being created in technology and we sit very much in their eyeline.

So much wealth is being created in technology and we sit very much in their eyeline

However, we work with our clients to ensure that they are tapping into every opportunity out there, and if they want to run a more traditional letter drop campaign, we can do just that. We truly are capable of delivering on so many fronts, and whilst we are very much the go-to place for the younger, entrepreneurial and tech savvy gen of wealth, we are also advisors who will reach the end user via multiple methods of communication.

Which areas of the globe does DDRE cover? Are there plans for a further expansion, and if so, which markets/territories are of interest?

At DDRE Global, we cover Prime Central London and focus our attention on our clients rather than their properties. The majority of our clients are extremely successful and the properties they own sit in the 5mn+ to 10mn+ market.

In terms of a further expansion, we have already been asked if we would franchise DDRE Global in the Middle East, Europe and US, which is a great reflection of the quality of our work, but currently that is not a part of our wider vision.

We understand that we will never get all of the best-in-class people from around the world working from our platform at DDRE Global – there are always other reasons why people chose to work where they work, whether it’s because they are part of a family business or for other sentimental reasons, but what we do know is that we want to work with them irrelevant of the brand! We have been working on a solution for this over the past couple of years – keep your eyes peeled and watch this space.

Where would you personally buy tomorrow, given an unlimited budget?

For me, nowhere in London beats Little Venice, it’s actually where I live now and for my lifestyle it couldn’t be more perfect. It’s beautiful and quiet, yet its just ten minutes away from the buzz of Mayfair. I really don’t think there is another neighbourhood in London quite like it.

When was the last time you were truly blown away by a property, and what made it special?

All of the properties we look after at DDRE Global are exceptional, so it is hard to narrow it down to just one singular home. However, many years ago we sold a house to one of the Oasis brothers in Little Venice, which has an incredible 200ft garden and I often reminisce about this property. It reminded me about how my Dad used to take me to the park when I was a kid to kick a ball about with me and this home would have been a dream fulfilled.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

On my 40th birthday, a very wise and successful lawyer turned to me and said, “you have been successful at what you have done for the past 20 something years, now it is your time to create the future”. It humbled me and opened my eyes at the same time – it showed me that confidence is the key to success, and that many other people who had also previously been in my position, had stepped up to the mark and gone on to build their own future. Now it was my turn to create the future.

‘Confidence is the key to success’