Alastair Kerr

Alastair Kerr

Acre Properties
London

Alastair Kerr is the founding director of Acre Properties (1988) Ltd, a property sales and lettings company based in Chiswick, west London.

Career Overview

Kerr founded Acre Properties in 1988, but the company’s growth journey truly began in earnest in the mid-1990s when buy-to-let product emerged onto the market. Originally, Kerr and his team operated by acquiring studio and one-bedroom flats, but then gradually moved towards larger flats – both ex-council and private mansion blocks in west London. By 2009, the business had diversified into houses and property rental companies. 

Kerr is passionate about fighting homelessness and helping the local community. Writing in The Parliamentary Review in 2019, he urged the government and property sector operators to look at tweaks to landlord taxation to help those in need, and the introduction of ultra-low fixed-rate products for 20 to 50 years to help first-time buyers.

Recruitment

Kerr and the Acre Properties business are renowned locally for their unusual five-point recruitment plan. This involves prospective candidates known to Acre employees coming in for an open day’s experience, followed by a seven to 14-day break and then a second trial day. A decision is then made by both parties on whether to proceed and hire. 

This method has resulted in 64 per cent of staff having 100 per cent attendance records, and 55 per cent having remained with the company for more than ten years.

The 2000s and the financial crisis

Between 2000 and 2008, Kerr moved the company away from taking on solely private individuals to also working with DSS and housing association tenants, which proved successful until the lending criteria began to be relaxed. In 2006, Kerr and the business were alerted to “sub-prime lending” and started to decline facilities from Northern Rock. 

In April 2008, Kerr wrote to two broadsheets concerning the base rate, warning that it had to drop or property prices would fall sharply. The company also let its borrowing float above the base rate in lieu of accepting fixed-rate loans. Six months after the global financial crash which saw Northern Rock collapse, the rate fell from five to 0.5 per cent. The drop saw the business transformed, and lenders consequently began reviewing their stance on their general lending structures and the economy at large.


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