I wasn’t keen to use a property buying agency, because I thought it would just be another level of administration, more time-consuming phone calls and e-mails from people who were just throwing pictures of houses at us. But time was short, and I was persuaded. In fact, Penny Black has saved us a huge amount of time by taking a clear instruction, making sure they understood what I wanted, and then only getting in touch when they needed to. AE from London, looking to downsize their base in Belgravia

We spent three days trekking round estate agents in Mayfair without finding anything that felt right, and went back to the States disappointed. A colleague suggested Penny Black, and after an exchange of e-mails and one phone call they sent us a selection that showed they’d really been listening. One was just perfect, and because it hadn’t gone on the market yet Christopher was able to negotiate a quick deal. Now, we’re actually glad we didn’t find anything in the estate agents’ lists. — DN and VN, from New York