How did you get into the property industry?
By accident really. I trained as a bricklayer for a short while after leaving school but didn’t enjoy working on site in cold and wet conditions! I lived with my parents at the time, they were moving house and I showed one of the estate agents around. I thought that seemed like a great job and applied to join a well-known independent chain. I spent 25 years in estate agency working through the ranks from trainee negotiator through to Regional Director. Then I moved across to the Corporate Sales division of the Spicerhaart group about 10 years ago where part of my remit is responsibility for the part exchange and assisted move division that looks after our developer clients.
What would say to people who insist that the high street is dead and that online estate agents are a better option to buy and sell your home?
Look at what’s happened at Countrywide! Obviously, their problems aren’t all due to their online offering but it certainly didn’t help them! I think that in the world we live in today there is a place for online agents, but you simply can’t compare them to a traditional agent.
In my view, estate agency is all about the people, the local knowledge that they hold and good old fashioned customer service. You just can’t beat meeting a good agent, face-to-face, who really knows his or her stuff.
The first-hand experience of the local market, schools, property values, local schemes, amenities etc. can be invaluable. And that’s just a starter. Further down the line, it’s great to be able to call into an office and discuss any aspect of your sale or purchase 1-1. The online agents simply can’t do this. That is not necessarily their fault, as some outfits ask their people on the ground to cover massive geographical areas, and that means they have no chance of getting to know the region properly.
Has the current political climate and Brexit had an effect on business?
Not as much as it might have done. We are still seeing good levels of business coming through. There is possibly some uncertainty out there, but nothing that’s had any significant impact at this stage anyway. A big part of our business is assisting developers with part exchange schemes, some of which we finance via specialist buyers. It is probably true to say that the underwriters are looking at each case in great detail and being slightly more conservative with offers, but touch wood, all good so far!
What are the main benefits of part exchange?
Part exchange is designed to help house builders and developers sell their properties and people who want to buy a new home but either cannot sell their existing property or do not have the time to sell it.
Working with the developer and the home buyer, we typically arrange two independent valuations of the property, provide a valuation report to the developer and facilitate a cash offer to the home buyer for their existing property.
We also work with developers who have their own in-house part exchange schemes by offering them appraisals and comparisons while managing the sale of the existing property through our estate agencies – we have nearly 200 branches in the Spicerhaart Group - as well as independent estate agents.
This part exchange proposition benefits the buyer, as they are able to sell their property directly to the builder and have a guaranteed buyer. Securing their sale on the new build means they do not have to pay any estate agency fees.
And by offering part exchange the developer benefits from more purchasers for their new build properties as well as an improved cash flow. It also frees up valuable capital and provides quick transaction timescales and turnaround times.
How does Spicerhaart differ from its competitors?
Spicerhaart Part Exchange & Assisted Move is part of the Spicerhaart Group which is one of the largest independent estate agency groups in Europe. The group includes brands such as Haart, Darlows, Felicity J Lord, Haybrook, Chewton Rose Butters John Bee and Brian Holt. Having nearly 200 of our own branches means that we can provide a full service to developer clients across this network but managed centrally from our PX/AM centre team in Sheffield.
Even in locations where we don’t have our own branches, we can provide an end to end service for our developer clients working alongside independent agents managed by our PX/AM team in Blackpool.
These options give us complete coverage across England & Wales. We also work with a number of specialist buyers which means that we are able to facilitate a sale for any type of property that a developer might want to take in part exchange.
What property headline would you most like to read this year?
There are so many factors that contribute to the property market its difficult to think of a single headline. A combination of stable interest rates, agreement on Brexit, continued government support for first-time buyers, affordable housing, incentives for developers to build out their land banks and a strong economy would all be welcome!