Property People Q&A: Tom Watson

Tom Watson is a chartered surveyor and director of Cundalls, specialising in the sale and valuation of rural properties with land. His most famous instruction was the sale of West Heslerton Estate in 2016, which included a 21 bedroom hall, 43 let houses, a pub, petrol station, sports field and 2116 acres. The sale resulted in global interest and sold in excess of the £20million guide price.

How did you end up in property? I am a farmer's son from Malton and have always had a love of the countryside and property. I gained a degree in estate/property management and worked in Shropshire returning to Cundalls and my Yorkshire roots in 2006. I am a multi-disciplined surveyor and a property geek. No day is ever the same and I cover an area spanning Teesside to the north, the Humber to the south, the Yorkshire Coast to the east and over to the Dales to west.

How is the housing market faring in your area? The past five years have seen some strong price increases in certain areas and lack of stock is keeping prices firm. In Malton, sensibly priced properties are often selling within a week of coming onto the market.

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Are there any up-and-coming places? Malton is booming and the Yorkshire Wolds and parts of East Yorkshire are hugely underrated, as is Scarboroug. These areas offer great value for money. Prices in Scarborough are almost half of those in York and the Esplanade and the Deepdale area are very attractive. In the medium term the Sirius Minerals scheme near Whitby, with offices in Scarborough, will bring opportunities to the whole Yorkshire coast and I can see that prices will rise.

If you were the Housing Minister what would you do? Many recent changes just won't work in a free-market economy and purely stifle investment. The minimum EPC efficiency standards will push rents up, the stamp duty changes are negatively impacting the higher end of the market as are the changes to stamp duty on buy-to-let properties. In Ryedale, the council have implemented ‘Local Occupancy Clauses' on new property developments in non-service villages. In some instances this could mean less than 100 people can purchase the property, which means there are often no buyers. The occupancy clauses also mean banks won't lend on them, so those in need don't benefit as they can't get a mortgage. We need a truly modern day council housing scheme.

The best and worst things about working in property? Doing a good job and achieving your clients objectives is hugely rewarding. The worst is the increasingly ridiculous amounts of red tape and bureaucracy and the “shark like” tactics of other less professional agents. Many agents now write “why aren't you using us” letters within a week of us putting properties on the market and then “you still haven't sold” a few weeks later. We would rather get on and act for our clients in trying to sell their property, rather than chasing others. We just let our results speak for themselves.

What is your ideal home? Somewhere rural and private in mature grounds overlooking my own lake and within walking distance of a good pub/restaurant. The more properties I go in, the more I realise that ‘big isn't always beautiful', a nice setting and a practical layout is far more important and a good view is priceless!