The estate agent who holds key to a lifetime of memories
Edward Waterson has been in more than 100,000 houses over the last 40 years but now he’s closed the door on estate agency. Sharon Dale reports.
MOST childhood dreams do not materialise but at the age of six Edward Waterson’s desire to follow in his father’s footsteps was spelled out in a beautifully handwritten note to his parents.
It read: “I’d like to do what daddy does and sell houses. I would like to see the insides of houses and see the furniture and things like that.”
His father and grandfather were chartered auctioneers and after graduating from Hull University, he achieved his early ambition and he began working for Chas Charter in Hull before working his way up to partner at Carter Jonas in York.
After 40 years in the business, he is retiring on a high as one of Yorkshire’s best-loved agents, known for his staunch ethics, exquisite manners and formidable memory. He has been in more than 100,000 houses and he can recall every one of them, though some are more memorable than others.
“One of my first jobs in 1972 was collecting rents from the slums in Hull on my bike, though the place I remember most was the house with no roof in Hull that sold for £49,” says Edward, a chartered surveyor.
Sarah Beeny’s property Rise Hall, near Hornsea, is another that sticks in his mind. Asked to value it in the mid 1990s, he told owner Hugh Bethell that it was worth less than nothing such was the scale of the renovation work required.
“I asked if he would take a fiver someone would invariably say: ‘Bert’s got a photo of it’. It was often the servants who kept pictures of the house rather than the owners.”
Period property is Edward’s passion and he has drawn a few conclusions from his experiences over the years.
People who live in unusual homes tend to be quite wacky, he says, and when dealing with couples, it is usually the woman who makes the buying decision.
He has never invested in buyto-let property himself, as he feels you shouldn’t be an agent and a dealer, though if he had he would be very well-off indeed.
“When I first came to York in 1982, period houses in the city centre were very cheap. You could buy one for £40,000. The preference then was to live in the country and York centre was quite a poor area full of bedsits,” he says.
That began to change in the mid to late 1980s as high flyers moved from London to work in the burgeoning financial and legal sector in Leeds.
“York piggy-backed on Leeds’s affluence. People couldn’t persuade their wives to live in Leeds but York was a different matter. It is physically attractive, has a great cultural offering, the best schools in the North of England and fantastic transport links. We have had hedge fund managers who work in London moving here as it’s only a two hour commute to the office by train,” he says.
“The trend for city living has really taken off in the last five years though as people move from the country to cut travel time and petrol costs.”
Though sales are buoyant in central York, where he lives with his wife Jill, he predicts that the property market will bump along the bottom for another five years.
His own future, meanwhile, promises to be busy. He is planning a book on the Yorkshire Arts and Crafts architect Walter Brierley and he will be doing lots of unpaid work for organisations including the Civic Trust, the National Trust and St Michael, Spurriergate.
Giving back is a constant need. When his father died at the age of 40, his mother had no way of paying school fees until an anonymous benefactor came forward and he was able to attend Arundel.
“I’ll never know who it was but I will be eternally grateful,” he says. “Having been on the receiving end of charity. I know how important it is and what a difference it can make.” ONE look at the views from this former Dales sheep farm tells you why Richard and Hazel Clarke fell in love with the property.
“It was the location,” says Richard. “It’s a beautiful place.”
The house, which dates back to 1482, is the heart of stunning Wensleydale and is a real escape to the country. The nearest village is West Burton four miles away and the nearest town is Leyburn, which is 11 miles up the road, but there are neighbours and, says
HEART OF THE COUNTRY: West Routengill is a former hill farm set in beautiful Wensleydale. The owners have carried out an extensive renovation and there is planning permission for an extension.
EDWARD WATERSON: One of Yorkshire’s best-loved estate agents will be missed by colleagues and clients alike.