Hard graft and fresh ideas are way to sell houses
Estate agent Andrew Beadnall reveals the naked truth behind viewings and the secrets of success.
ANDREW Beadnall is the owner of estate and letting agents Beadnall Copley, which has offices in Harrogate, Wetherby and Ripon. He launched the business in 1991 and has just celebrated its 21st anniversary.
Andrew has lived in the Wetherby area for most of his life and was educated at St Peter’s, York. He is married with one son, James, who has just joined Beadnall Copley, having graduated in Estate Management. A keen sports fan, Andrew is chairman of the Hunslet Trust, which supports the young people of south Leeds in their pursuit of sporting excellence. He is also supporter of local charities, including Cancer Research.
How and when did you start out in property and why have you stuck at it?
On leaving school in 1973, I joined Dacre, Son & Hartley as an articled pupil to the senior partner, John Smallwood, who was a great friend of my father’s. Initially, I had the intention of pursuing a career in the commercial property market. However “sheds” and I were not to be and I quickly moved into the residential division working in the Harrogate area. After 39 years, I still get the same buzz from selling houses as every job is different. I have been fortunate to have found a career which I love and still believe I am the best in the business. In sales, confidence is everything.
What have been the best and worst moments of your career?
The worst moment was when Wendy Hartley had to retire from Beadnalls due to her having cancer. Wendy has been with me from the start, opening our Albert Street office in 1991 and prior to that working alongside me at Dacres and Whitegates. Things unquestionably changed that day but now nine years on and fully recovered, she’s back working with me and she remains as keen today as she was 21 years ago. As for the best moments, I have had some great successes, winning numerous marketing awards, but the stand-out moment remains, the opening of Beadnall Copley in 1991. Incredible risk and utterly nerve-racking but I always had a belief that it would succeed.
What qualities do you need to be a successful agent and to build your own agency?
To create a successful agency you need self-belief and a willingness to concentrate totally on building your business. You need to put everything else on hold. In my early days, I literally worked 12-hour days, seven days a week without any holiday for the first two years. You need to be utterly confident in your abilities and create a business plan which is unique in estate agency. In my case, in 1991, it was to provide the ultimate personal service. We also had a new approach marketing, even down to choosing our corporate colours and style of newspaper advertisements.
A sense of humour is essential in your line of work. Can you remember the funniest moments?
As you can imagine, after 39 years of viewing tens of thousands of homes the humorous incidents are legend. Some of the funniest involve finding vendors who should not have been at home when we were there. One lady vendor brought the key to her home into the office and assured me that while she was away on holiday it was perfectly all right for me to do viewings as the house would be empty due to her husband also being away on business. I duly turned up to do an accompanied viewing at the house with some buyers. We had looked round the ground floor and were just at the top of the steps when the main bedroom door flew open to find the gentleman of the house with a dressing gown thrown round him as he was in “a compromising position” with a lady who was not his wife. He was mortified.
Do you have any tips for those thinking of putting their homes up for sale in the new year?
I believe that sellers need to have a sense of realism as the current uncertainty in the market continues into 2013. I predict stable house prices in the year ahead, but I would urge sellers to pick an estate agent whose knowledge of their local market is second to none and who is able to advise them sensibly on what properties are actually being sold for. There are still agents around who tell clients what they think they would like to hear as a way of securing their business. Always visit the estate agent’s office and see how they deal with you. Do they inspire confidence?
What and where is your ideal home?
It is in Kirkby Malzeard, near Ripon, and not buying that property will always be one of my biggest regrets in life. A former farm and stud with 30 acres and lake on the village outskirts surrounded by fields. It had been stunningly rebuilt by reputable local builders and I had agreed terms to buy it. At the very last minute, my wife pulled the plug. Having seen tens of thousands of properties in my 39 years, that remains my number one. I know this sounds daft but whenever I’m in that area, I still do a huge detour so as not to see it. It has recently changed hands and I was mortified to see how much more it had sold for. If we’re talking fantasy island stuff, it would be a villa perched in the hills at Eze in the south of France.
ANCIENT AND MODERN: The 14th century Old Rectory at Mirfield has been restored and its architectural features uncovered. It has five bedrooms and a two-bedroom cottage annexe. It also boasts a 25-seater sunken fire pit which Angela Lorimer got the idea for on a trip to Kenya.
COMING OF AGE: Andrew Beadnall, who is celebrating 21 years at his eponymous agency, looks back on his career so far in the property world.