Property People Q&A: Lester Hurst

Lester Hurst is the independent owner of Hunters Ilkley and Hunters Otley,

How did you end up working in property? I purchased my first house at 18, a buy-to-let property, then started investing and refurbing properties, adding value to the homes I purchased. I found that I often experienced disappointment in the level of service I was receiving from estate agents and believed I could deliver a far better service, which is where my interest began. Having met with Kevin Hollinrake years later, who was then the MD of the Hunters Group, I recognised that his company's core values, of exceptional customer service, were precisely what I wanted to aspire to.

How is the housing market faring in your areas? High premiums are being paid for anything within a five-minute walk of Ilkley town centre. There is a surge in buyers from outside the area moving in from people retiring to the town to families upsizing. The beauty of the Wharfe Valley is that it caters for all.

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Are there any up-and-coming places? Villages within striking distance of Ilkley and Otley such as Denton, Askwith and Burley in Wharfedale should all be on the radar.  Their semi-rural location is becoming more and more desirable.

If you were the Housing Minister what would you do and why? There are two main issues I would address. Firstly, I would make offers on properties legally binding, so once an offer is accepted by a vendor, the purchaser would be required to pay a deposit in order to remove the property from the market. This would prevent people withdrawing from a purchase and in turn stop gazumping and gazundering.

I would also encourage the building of more sustainable/eco homes and would ask the public, government, councils and developers to work far more closely together than they currently are to provide healthier homes with lower maintenance costs and a more positive environmental impact.

What are the best and worst things about working in property? In estate agency, I find it very rewarding to help clients find a home that really suits them and their needs, a home they are passionate about. It is a pleasure to assist in such a personal part of their life journey. The downside is supporting disappointment when a transaction doesn't go to plan. This can be quite sensitive at times.

Where and what is your ideal home? I sold the Ilkley Pump House on Ilkley Moor for a client a few years ago. It was so cleverly designed. It is set over three floors with a cinema room and a garage that James Bond would be proud of. It's the ideal party house and you would only disturb the sheep if the music was too loud.