How did you end up working in property? I started working in estate agency in 1996. I actually didn't plan to be an estate agent from the offset, but I did work in sales so the two were closely aligned. I was having my first house valued by an estate agent and she told me I'd done such a good job selling the benefits and features that she thought I should work in the industry myself. She offered me a job there and then, which I accepted. I progressed quite quickly from a part-time negotiator to running a branch the following year.
How is the housing market faring in your area? After a fairly quiet summer compounded by the good weather and school holidays, the market is now returning and picking up good pace. Our average house price is just over £700,000 and hot spots include villages in North Yorkshire and County Durham, such as Middleton Tyas, Hurworth and market towns, such as Barnard Castle and Richmond. Villages in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park are also extremely popular right now and, together with our colleagues in the Savills York office who we work with jointly across North Yorkshire, we expect a busy Autumn ahead.
Are there any up-and-coming places? The demand for the village of Hurworth on the outskirts of Darlington has increased dramatically. This is down to a combination of factors, including its close proximity to excellent state and private schools, gastro pubs, village store, post office and good motorway and rail connections. It is also home to the area's only 5* hotel, Rockcliffe Hall. Richmond is also very popular, particularly amongst those retiring.
If you were the Housing Minister what would you do and why? I think stamp duty is always a bone of contention so I would change that again.
What are the best and worst things about working in property? The best things about working in property include winning the instructions and knowing that a client has trusted you with their biggest asset. Negotiating the sale can be a long and complicated process but ensuring we take the stress away from the client is always my top priority. The day of completion and handing those keys over is one of the best feelings, and my team and I never fail to get excited when a buyer picks their keys up. The worst thing is when it occasionally goes wrong outside of our control and the sale falls through. Saying this, I never give up easily and will always be available for my clients in times of need.
Where and what is your ideal home? I think my ideal home would be more than one: a retreat in a lovely North Yorkshire village where my family grew up, a city apartment for the week days and a chalet in the French alps where my family and I could spend time every winter.