Most people need to make a living of sorts, and every job has its ups and downs. It does, however, help if you enjoy the work that you do. When you broach the subject of work with Lourdes Muscat, experienced property consultant at Pierre Faure Real Estate, her eyes light up and a smile flashes across her face. “I wouldn’t have done this job for so many years if I didn’t derive such satisfaction from it”, she says. In Lourdes’s job, it is important to deliver a service to your clients with passion. You need, she says, to stop thinking about non-commercial properties as merely houses, but as potential homes or investments. That is when you start to factor in the vital detail that you are helping families or individuals choose the home that is the most suitable for them, or the investment that they most need, and that is what she loves the most – the happiness that stems from choosing the most fitting places for the right families or single investors. Experience in the business has really enabled her to develop a sense of what is best for different family units with varying circumstances. The feeling of really having been able to aid someone with such a crucial decision is priceless, she goes on to add. Apart from this, there is the genuine bond that arises out of sharing experiences with a family over the home they have recently acquired – for instance, their delight for their new garden, and the wonderful feeling of being able to enjoy a new space with a beloved pet.
Of course, jobs in every line of work bring challenges with them, and property consultation is no exception. Among the frustrations Lourdes has to deal with on a regular basis are Malta’s traffic situation as she navigates from one property or client to the next, encounters with other agents who might not be as professional in their methods as she is used to being, and also difficult clients. The latter is something that anyone who provides a service of any sort needs to get accustomed to. However, a little empathy goes a long way to doing this job well. That is where a heightened sense of professionalism comes in – not allowing the pitfalls of the job (including irritated clients who may take their exasperation out on you) to affect you personally.
When I asked Lourdes to describe a typical week at work, she had to stop to consider it for a moment. Ultimately, she says, one of the best things about her job is that there really is no fixed schedule – the excitement of not having a mundane routine is, in fact, one of things that drives her. When pressed to explain what her work at Pierre Faure mostly entails, she says that a typical week might include a Monday morning meeting to discuss and review the team’s progress with respect to the properties listed and the exchange of experiences related to this, as well as calling clients to follow up on the places shown. Making sure that the administrative work is kept up to date is also necessary in order to keep things running smoothly, so constantly keeping track of the paperwork concerning the listings is usually included in this. Naturally, an essential portion of the duties involves showing properties to prospective buyers, but Lourdes shares the fact that a good amount of her work is of an advisory nature – making sure that clients realise that the property is being sold for the right reasons, and at the most appropriate price. Life can sometimes deal us unfair blows, and the last thing a conscientious property consultant like Lourdes wants is for a client to make a rash decision concerning something as major as selling or buying property. That is one of the things that most comes to the fore about her job at Pierre Faure – she and her colleagues have a personal connection with the properties that they sell or find for their clients. Lourdes also feels very strongly about the fact that she and her fellow associates are team players, always ready to thrash things out together and lend each other a helping hand.
Another aspect of her job that she feels is advantageous is her ability to work flexible hours. She adds with a cheeky grin that if her day starts to feel stressful, she can always fit in some kind of activity in order to help her let off some steam and relax, such as attending a yoga or Zumba class!
Lourdes’s favourite properties that she has had the pleasure of finding owners for are typical Maltese townhouses. She lists the myriad features that these wonderful buildings have going for them – large apertures allowing in plenty of natural light, colourful balconies, a structure and materials that allow the houses to keep cool in the oppressive Maltese summer heat, walls that can be easily plastered – the list goes on. Another element that people forget about these buildings is that they point to a facet of Maltese identity which is part and parcel of our heritage and environment – the fact that we are islanders. Taking a proper look at how they have been constructed allows both local and foreign buyers an insight into how the Maltese lived in bygone times. She goes on to describe how she has been lucky enough to recently sell an imposing double-fronted townhouse in the quiet village of Zejtun, and another elegant one in Mdina. Is there anything she doesn’t like about these sorts of properties? I probe, teasingly. Well, there is one thing, she says, a smile playing on her lips – there aren’t enough of them!
Other characteristics that she enthuses about are buildings with gardens or outdoor spaces, since, again, these are in short supply. On the more unusual side on things, she has also had the distinct pleasure of coming across houses with a certain history behind them, or with peculiar tales attached to them, such as buildings equipped with war-time shelters and palazzi with servants’ quarters.
Ending off on a light note, I asked Lourdes to depict a funny experience that she’s had out of her many years in the sector. A distinctly surreal incident occurred when she was looking for a property in a high-end area. Dressed to impress in a smart knee-length office dress and suitably-heeled shoes, the last thing that she expected was for a neighbour to bark that she looked suspicious; what was she doing in that area? You simply have to laugh at these things, she says, and roll with the punches. Other humorous occasions have included unrealistic perceptions of the size of their property that some homeowners have – which, unfortunately, are too often precipitated by irresponsible property agents who try to aggrandise owners’ sense of confidence in their property’s worth.
Whichever way Lourdes looks at her profession, she feels lucky to be involved in a sector that plays such a fundamental role in people’s happiness, important investments and sense of place. Even more so, she feels glad to belong to a team for whom this contentment forms such an essential part of their job satisfaction.