After 48 years in estate agency and 30 years at the helm of his own business, Andrew Beadnall is adept at riding the ups and downs of the housing market. Those years of experience, a “can do” attitude and keep fit routines that involve cycling and training in the gym four times a week, helped him cope with the first lockdown and its explosive, exhausting aftermath that has seen everyone in the home buying and selling industry run ragged.
“When Michael Gove announced the lockdown on breakfast TV, I just sat there and thought ‘what are we going to do?’.” The answer was furlough staff from Beadnall Copley’s Ripon, Wetherby and Harrogate offices, put on a suit and sit in the Wetherby HQ fielding calls, rather than turning on the answerphone.
“People were worried and, incredibly, some were still ringing wanting to put their homes up for sale even though we were completely locked down,” says Andrew, who knew within days of reopening that the market was set to boom. There were so many people wanting to view houses plus properties that had been for sale without any interest were suddenly selling.”
The biggest issue now, 17 months on, is a severe lack of stock, both in the sales and rental sectors. This is pushing up prices, sparking bidding wars and creating a problem. A good example is a two-bedroom townhouse in Collingham, near Wetherby, to let via Beadnall’s, which was up for let at £800 per month. Such was the interest, it went to best and final offers that pushed it to £1,100 pcm. Homes for sale are also soaring above asking price.
“There is a supply and demand issue caused by an utter lack of stock. People want to sell and move and are still having their homes valued but they aren’t putting them on the market because they can’t find anywhere to buy. The problem with this is that when a suitable home does come up for sale, they aren’t in a position to buy it,” says Andrew. “I have people saying ‘yes, but my house will sell straight away’, but they forget that while they are stuck in the sale process, a cash buyer will come along and snap up the property they want.”
The only solution to the situation is for would-be vendors to be brave and list their home regardless, though with an unprecedented amount of competition, choosing an estate agent can seem difficult. What is certain is that the cheapest are almost certainly not the best so choose carefully.
Keeping up standards is paramount for Andrew and by that end he lives by the advice that John Smallwood, then head of Dacre, Son and Hartley, gave him in 1978: “On my first day, he said, ‘Laddie, there’s only one thing you will ever have to offer doing this job: goodwill. Never lose it’.”
He adds that another mark of a good agent is a great memory for brochures and former clients, while noting that the recall of younger agents is relatively poor as they rely on the internet for information.
Another change for the worse, he believes, is that estate agency is no longer regarded as a profession, which is why he chooses staff carefully and only the best and strongest survive because he is a stickler and as such, he admits that he is a “nightmare” to work for.
For those choosing an agent he suggests checking how long they have been in business, their market share and level of service when you go into the branch. “Anyone can find a buyer in this market but 95 per cent of the work is getting the deal through to completion, which involves checking cash buyers really have the cash and chasing up all the solicitors involved in a chain.”
His tips for sellers include having professional pictures taken, removing clutter and making sure the front door and hall are attractive because they are the first and last things a buyer sees.
He emphasises that, whatever you do, don’t tell buyers that you are selling due to divorce unless you want a low offer.
“One vendor with a very beautiful house had lots of framed photographs of exotic holidays but when you looked closely, the husband’s head had been cut out of everyone and replaced with the heads of tigers, chimps and elephants. I pointed out that they had to go,” says Andrew, who is also chairman of the trustees for the Hunslet Club, a remarkable and hugely successful youth organisation in a deprived area of south Leeds.
It relies on donations to provide opportunities for young people via sport, events, activities and advice. It has helped thousands and nurtured amazing talent, including boxer Hope Price.
Andrew was born in Hunslet, where his father ran an off licence, so the area is close to his heart and to prove it, he now sports a “Hunslet Club” tattoo on his forearm. “It’s where I go to decompress,” he says. “Being involved in this club is what I am most proud of.”
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