Andrew Crabbie, head of real estate at law firm Forsters, on how he got started in property, his book and podcast recommendations, the celebrity he would most like to meet and his number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
After studying law at the University of Southampton, I was articled at Frere Cholmeley and then qualified into the firm’s property practice. That was 30 years ago and I have since spent my career in a fascinating industry that continues to evolve, inspiring and challenging us all – never more so than in present times.
What does your job entail?
I head the commercial real estate (CRE) team at Forsters, which is one of the largest dedicated practices in the market. We have 120 lawyers acting for a wide range of clients including institutional investors, private and publicly quoted property companies, funders, developers, occupiers, rural and urban estates, charities, high-net-worth individuals and landowners, involved in all types of CRE. My own area of expertise is on the transactional side, specialising in development, investment and occupier work.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Ultimately, it is the deals and the people I get to work with that continue to get me out of bed every morning.
And what do you dislike most about it?
In my view, the most exciting aspect of property is development. At times some of the barriers and restraints that developers face (whether legal or otherwise) are disproportionate and short-sighted.
What would you change about the property industry?
The bureaucracy and red tape in certain aspects of what we do. For example, streamlining the often cumbersome transaction process, not to mention the planning system and the rights-of-light regime, would be a positive and very welcome gain.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Being part of such a large and talented team and watching them forge brilliant careers here at Forsters. Winning Property Team of the Year at the 2021 British Legal Awards was a fantastic, impartial recognition of our achievements, and vindication of my long-held subscription to the theory that the key to leadership is to surround yourself with excellence.
What do you value in people?
Resilience and initiative are incredibly important qualities. The ability to overcome adversity, thinking laterally to find solutions to problems and demonstrating a self-starting, entrepreneurial flair. I think humility is an often overlooked, undervalued character trait.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Be prepared to work hard; there are no shortcuts to success. Also, do not be afraid of making mistakes, but just make sure you learn from them. Finally, it is a cliché, but property really is a people business so network, network, network. You may be able to grow the best apples, but you must learn how to sell them.