Es­tate agent goes back to the fu­ture

Macclesfield Express - - SPORT - House prices

JOHN Hal­man is man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Gas­coigne Hal­man, an es­tate agent with 18 of­fices in south Manch­ester, and is a North West Re­gional Res­i­den­tial Spokesman for the Royal In­sti­tu­tion of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors.

Here he dis­cusses how far the industry has come since the launch of his busi­ness 25 years ago.

He said: “On Oc­to­ber 21, I, like many oth­ers, re­flected on the last 26 years since Marty McFly and Doc­tor Em­mett Brown trav­elled to 2015 in the sec­ond in­stal­ment of Back to the Fu­ture.

“In 1990 I set off on my own jour­ney ‘into the fu­ture’ when I launched Gas­coigne Hal­man; and as our 25th an­niver­sary year draws to a close, the ex­cite­ment around Back to the Fu­ture Day made me think about the prop­erty mar­ket pre­dic­tions I could have made in 1990 and the changes we have seen in the mar­ket.”

The world wide web

The big­gest gamechanger has to be the in­ter­net. It has trans­formed the way peo­ple buy prop­erty.

Gone are the days when peo­ple would spend days vis­it­ing es­tate agents, col­lect­ing piles of prop­erty brochures.

We now have fewer peo­ple com­ing through our doors as the ma­jor­ity have done their re­search on­line. In­stead we are deal­ing with a more well-in­formed home seeker who has their op­tions lined up and then it’s just as it was back in Marty’s day – it’s our role to help them reach the right de­ci­sion about which house to pur­sue and then help make the trans­ac­tion as swift and ef­fort­less as pos­si­ble.

Face-to-face con­tact and a per­sonal ser­vice re­main, thank­fully, at the heart of every­thing that we do and our clients ap­pre­ci­ate it. We mon­i­tor client sat­is­fac­tion very closely and we still achieve a score of 97 per cent.

In­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to the web and now a key mar­ket­ing tool for us and es­tate agents every­where. When Face­book and Twit­ter first ap­peared I per­son­ally didn’t get how they could im­pact our mar­ket.

But they are an im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion gath­er­ing tool for so many peo­ple now and are a great way for com­pa­nies to com­mu­ni­cate with their au­di­ence.

There have been two prop­erty slumps. Given that the prop­erty mar­ket has al­ways been cycli­cal we could eas­ily have pre­dicted that there would be fluc­tu­a­tions in the mar­ket. There was a down­turn in 1991 when mort­gage rates soared and many found them­selves in neg­a­tive eq­uity. What we, and no-one else fore­saw, was the scale of the 2008 re­ces­sion which we are now emerg­ing from.

A re­sult of the most re­cent re­ces­sion was the mas­sive in­crease in de­mand for rented prop­erty and the sub­se­quent, and sig­nif­i­cant, in­crease in the num­ber of buy-to-let land­lords.

The scale of this mar­ket is some­thing we cer­tainly didn’t pre­dict back in 1989, but we could cer­tainly see it com­ing in 2008 and re­struc­tured our busi­ness to cope with the in­creased de­mand.

The hous­ing mar­ket is con­sid­ered to be a safe haven for your money but, like any mar­ket, you need to take a long-term view.

We had a great ex­am­ple this year of price in­creases when we were asked to han­dle the sale of one of the first prop­er­ties we put on the mar­ket back in 1990. At that time it achieved a price of £92,000 and sold ear­lier this year for £415,000 – an in­crease of just over 350 per cent.

While Marty and the Doc­tor ex­pe­ri­enced hov­er­boards, we are thor­oughly en­joy­ing the ben­e­fits of hov­er­ing drones which we are us­ing to film some of our larger prop­er­ties.

So, for us it’s 25 years on and we are look­ing for­ward to the next 25. I’d be happy to pre­dict that if Marty and the Doc­tor went ‘back to the fu­ture’ to 2040 that house prices will have con­tin­ued to rise, but please don’t ask me to pre­dict what we’ll be up to with drones.

●● John Hal­man

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