FROM MOSCOW TO LONDON
From A to Z
Residential and investment property advisor Alisa Zotimova swapped Moscow for Marylebone many years ago.
Here she explains why.
Alisa Zotimova moved part way around the world to find her London home. Now, as a property entrepreneur, she helps others buy theirs. What’s all the more surprising is she “fell” into a property career by chance.
Back in 2001 Alisa was juggling her economics degree with managing a restaurant in Moscow. While she was getting ready to move to Abu Dhabi and start a hotelier career, she was invited to come in to interview at the Russian branch of commercial property giant JLL. Impressed by her English and “can do” attitude, they offered her a job in office agency.
Alisa was to spend the first decade of her career in commercial property, moving from JLL to Cushman & Wakefield and working in several countries, before settling in the UK in 2007. The work ethic and schedule were much tougher in Moscow and after her move she embraced running in London’s parks, joined all the possible museum “friends” programs and went to the Royal Opera House once a week on average. “Moscow was filled to the brim with similar things, but there was far less time to enjoy them” she recalls.
In 2012 she set up AZ Real Estate and shifted her specialism to residential and investment property. “What I set up to offer the clients and now try to cultivate in our team is, treating it like you own it and taking responsibility for one’s work,” she explains. “We spend our time and energy so that our clients don’t – they just need to “show up”, make the final choice and
sign the proverbial cheque. We ensure that all their needs boxes and most wants boxes are checked and the best deal is sourced.”
Although Alisa has helped various British and overseas nationals buy property in London, about two thirds of her clients are Russian-speaking. On average her buyers spend between £1.5 and £5 million, though one of her last client acquisitions before the March lockdown was an £11
million property. Likewise, her team were busy this year selling and letting properties on behalf of their owner clients. “There are few things in property we do not do, what unites it all for us is the private client and giving them a one-stop-shop solution. Once they come
to us, we try not to let go”, smiles Alisa.
Lockdown had an unexpected silver lining for Alisa who got to spend more time with her baby son, born last year. Now she’s enjoying being able to zip about the city in her electric BMW i3 to handle viewings again. When Alisa has time to relax, and a babysitter booked, she and her husband can be found dining in favourite Mayfair haunts like Scott’s and Umu.
Looking back, Alisa knows that her experience at two global property firms gave her a flying start. Her latest ambition is to use the lessons she has learned to help others. To that end she’s writing a book (in Russian) provisionally called Moscow to London: From Russia with Love!, “to encourage young women to follow their goals and dreams, even if it’s not to move to another country, telling them that a lot is possible if you apply yourself and try really hard.”
She’s optimistic that, despite the obvious challenges, the year will end better than a frustrating 2019. “From Brexit actually taking place there was a dam that broke,” she says. The looming 2% stamp duty hike for overseas buyers is also stimulating demand, while lockdown cabin fever has prompted some to hunt for second homes with outdoor space.
Alisa has just extended the lease on AZ Real Estate’s Marylebone Lane office and sniffs at the doomsayers who predict city centres will empty permanently: “There will be some changes but it’s not going to be all or nothing. I think it’s going to be an evolution. But property and London are here to stay!”
The article appeared in Mayfair Times on Dec 2, 2020