Estate agent goes back to the future
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