Meet the property veteran from Leeds who is sharing her experience with EasyProperty franchisees
“It almost felt like somebody had turned the lightbulb off”, Jo Bourne says.
The dark clouds of the 2008 financial crisis that enveloped the property market are a far cry from the buoyant market today with buyers lining up to snap up homes. In fact, the future for Ms Bourne may well be bright orange.
The Leeds-based property veteran has taken on the role of Talent Champion at EasyProperty, through her consultancy called Impact CTMD (Consulting, Training and Management Development).
Ms Bourne has spent almost 30 years working in property after she fell into the industry when her children were young.
She said: “When my children were two and three years old, I was looking for something to do from a job point of view and I got a job at the local estate agents working on the weekends.
“It fitted around my family and it gave me an opportunity to do something for myself. That’s really how I fell into property.”
While at William H Brown, she became a sales negotiator and then branch manager. Eventually she went on to become an area director, managing a network of ten offices around the Leeds and Harrogate area.
Ms Bourne has seen two or three real market changes in her three decades in the industry but undoubtedly one of the most challenging periods in her career was the financial crash of 2008.
“It was incredibly challenging to make sure that we didn’t have to make people redundant and that we were able to keep offices open,” she says. Everything came to a grinding halt overnight. The phones stopped ringing and the offices fell silent.
She added: “Then we were faced with a situation where the only people that you were really selling properties for were people who were being forced to sell so they were in a situation where they had to sell - death, divorce and debt
“You didn’t have people moving out of choice. It was a necessity in a lot of cases.”
While the market is booming today, that period taught Ms Bourne a valuable lesson, which is the importance of listening to customers.
Ms Bourne said: “It was a challenge but we stuck to it by making sure we had good processes, we had good systems in place and we listened to what customers needed. That’s the same now. Yes, it’s a great market but the bottom line is you need to listen to what customers are wanting at all times.”
There is a shortage of properties with recent surveys suggesting that there are twice as many buyers for the number of homes on the market.
“We’ve seen a circa ten per cent increase in prices over the last 12 months,” Ms Bourne says. “It’s definitely a very buyer driven market and prices are being pushed by the number of buyers that there are for each property that comes to market.”
She added: “The pandemic has made people relook at their housing requirements.
“We know that there’s a more flexible approach for people working. More people are perhaps working from home so they are looking at bigger sized properties or changing the property to be able to accommodate office space. Garden space has become really important.”
It’s not all rosy for the property market. Ms Bourne says property firms need to be mindful of the cost of living rising and interest rate hikes. There is also a seemingly never ending challenge of helping first-time buyers onto the property ladder.
Ms Bourne said: “One thing that does concern me as well is how hard it is for first time buyers to enter the marketplace. You look at the rising cost of property, you look at the cost of them renting and being unable to save a deposit.”
However, she doesn’t see prices dropping anytime soon but thinks there may be more of a “levelling off” in demand towards the end of the year.
Ms Bourne was at William H Brown for 23 years, leaving the estate agent in October 2015. She had a couple of months off to decide what she wanted to do.
Then at the start of 2016, she launched Impact CTMD, a consulting and training business for estate agents.
Ms Bourne realised toward the latter part of her career that she really enjoyed developing people, teams and training and coaching. In 2018, she started doing contract work for online estate agent Purplebricks.
“I worked with them to create an academy, where we trained people who were perhaps viewing assistants doing property viewings to become local property experts,” she says.
Last October she was approached by Kelvin Brook, national franchise director for EasyProperty.
Ms Bourne said: “Kelvin used to be one of my branch managers when I was an area director at William H Brown. He asked me what my plans were next and what I was going to be doing and if I would be interested in doing some contract work at EasyProperty.”
She was sold on EasyProperty’s plans for developing new franchisees and took on the role of talent champion.
In her role, she will deliver the induction and training before coaching them through their property careers.
Ms Bourne has a fluid coaching style, putting emphasis on understanding the needs of the individual. She said: “The most important thing is finding out what’s going to work for that client or that mentee. If it’s a new client that I am looking to work with, I will spend a lot of time asking lots of questions. Spending time in their offices. Spending time with them around what it is that they are wanting to get.
“Listening to what people want or need is at the bottom of any good leadership management. You can build from there, by asking lots of questions and listening to that.”
Ms Bourne has a desire to share her knowledge and experience with others, even doing voluntary work for charity Estate Agents Together. She said: “It’s an opportunity to share my experience, to support people as they develop their careers. I like to see people having that opportunity to succeed.”
What does the future look like for the 30 year property veteran?
“The future is looking quite orange I hope from an EasyProperty point of view,” she says.
Title: Director – Impact (Consulting, Training & Management Development) currently working with EasyProperty as their talent champion
Date of birth: 17/07/1965
Lives: Oakwood, Leeds
Favourite holiday destination: Lanzarote
Last book read: All the Lonely People – Mike Gayle
Favourite film: Love Actually
Favourite song: Very difficult as I have a very eclectic taste in music and love listening to a real variety of artists – some favourites would include …Led Zepplin – Stairway to Heaven, Helen Reddy – I am Woman, Annie Lennox – Something so Right
Car driven: Qashqai
Most proud of: Making the decision to start my own business in 2016.