Meet the couple who set up Windward Grove during the pandemic

Mr Bubloz has always wanted to run a business since leaving university. During the coronavirus outbreak in July 2020, Mr and Mrs Bubloz got married, had a baby and set up the estate agency, Windward Grove.

For many people, 2020 did not go quite to plan but Mr and Mrs Bubloz are grateful. He said: “Four years ago, completion of our house purchase fell on Leah’s birthday in December 2016 and four years later to the day, we got engaged. We were never going to have a big, massive wedding. It was never going to be extravagant. We booked Malmaison for 11th April. But the coronavirus was growing and growing. My stag do was my last social activity before the first lockdown. It was the day before.”

Like almost everything else, the couple’s wedding was cancelled. Mrs Bubloz said: “We planned to have 90 people at the hotel and 15 at the Registry Office. Then a honeymoon in Rome which was at the epicentre of the coronavirus. Everything was cancelled. However nobody but us knew at this time we were expecting a baby, so we did have something else to be excited about.

“We saw a lot of upset posts and messages on social media written directly to us: ‘It’s terrible that your wedding has been cancelled.’ But we thought, people are dying and we’re basically just not having a party, the sympathy is more worthwhile elsewhere.

Mr Bubloz said: “Instead, we were excited and planning how to launch our business.”

In the end, the couple got married at a registry office on 3rd October, with their parents as witnesses. They rearranged Malmaison for December 2020 and have postponed it again.

Mr Bubloz said: “We’re appreciative of Malmaison, if you need to postpone for more than a year, you should lose your deposit. It’s been well over a year: our wedding celebration is planned for August, not April.”

Mr and Mrs Bubloz said: “It’s a whirlwind, everything is going on at once.”

Windward Grove
Simon and Leah Bubloz of Windward Grove

For Mr Bubloz self-employment is an opportunity. He said: “I view my job like a mortgage. After fifty years as an employee in an estate agency, you retire and that’s it. If we create a customer base, we have an asset that we’re building up every day. Rent from lettings comes in. Most people work their whole career, get a pension but nothing overall in return.”

Explaining his approach, Mr Bubloz said: “I try to be the closest thing to a family friend who knows about lettings. It’s just nice to be liked and to be totally transparent. In many estate agencies, staff don’t want customers to hear 50% of conversations because they are about how the company could benefit (not the customer.)

“Some agencies trick customers into paying for a higher service. There’s a lot of pressure to upsell i.e. encourage customers to pay more than they should. We give them the option for more expensive service but there’s no pressure.”

Flexibility is key to the success of Windward Grove. Most viewings take place in the evenings and on Sunday when other agencies are closed. Mr Bubloz said there are no hidden fees like mark ups on tradesmen which gives the traders an expensive reputation. Fees are agreed upfront.

Mrs Bubloz said: “If we’re selling, we don’t commit anyone to using a sole agency. We absolutely don’t want to make you sell with us and end up with a toxic relationship: if you want to bring in a new estate agent, you can but we will do our best to make sure you don’t need to.

“Where we worked before in the biggest online, hybrid estate agency, we feel they weren’t harnessing the technology. It was during the first lockdown we set up Windward Grove in July. We offer a 360° virtual property tour that boosts our adverts. They’re brilliant.

“We saw a 360° virtual tour at Malmaison, specifically we looked at the function room for the wedding. Lockdown underlined even more that agents should use these – even for viewing a single room.”

Mr Bubloz said “Often estate agents outsource imagery and charge £200+ for the virtual tour he explained. Windward Gove charge £45. Mr Bubloz takes all of the photographs and videos himself. He offers professional level photography. However, he said: “If a customer wants to instruct a professional photographer, they absolutely can.”

Communication is a key strength of the husband and wife team and it is how they look after their customers. Mr Bubloz said he looks forward to writing the job description for the Associate role which will be on a self-employed basis where each associate finds and manages their own customers.

Mr Bubloz said: “We don’t have crazy bosses obsessed with figures and viewings. If viewing numbers are low, the property is probably too expensive.”

Environmental concerns are important to Mr and Mrs Bubloz. They drive low emission vehicles, the office space where most of the work on customers’ properties is done is powered by solar and Windward Grove is paperless. All contracts are handled electronically using ‘Signable’ technology, but they can be printed and posted if required.

Windward Grove operates across Sussex including Brighton and Hove but their Head Quarters are in Littlehampton where they hope to sell most of their properties, initially.

To find out the value of your home, you can enter your details into their instant valuation tool that uses Land Registry data.

You can meet Mr Bubloz at the Brighton Property Investor Network where he provides the monthly lettings briefing.

Mr and Mrs Bubloz from Windward Grove, are the property professionals, who do more for less.