by Charles Myring
To all of us lucky enough to live and work in Harrogate some things seem very similar to how they were two decades ago .The elegant and happy town we are pleased to call home still quietly prospers, secure in the knowledge that it is still one of Britain’s most famous spa towns and a shining jewel in Yorkshire’s crown.
Appearances, of course, can be deceptive. Harrogate is now twice the size it was twenty years ago when our family started in the local property business and the town is steadily growing even bigger.
Detached houses cost twice as much as they did back then and apartments are three times the price.
The five biggest mass market builders in the UK are building here or are about to build, along with a good number of other smaller builders.
The traffic congestion on Skipton Road and elsewhere in the town coupled with the difficulties of finding somewhere to park is now part and parcel of our daily life but Harrogate folk accommodate these small inconveniences.
They set them against the delights of living in our amazing “Teflon town”. Economic storms have raged across the country but have largely missed Harrogate.
Our high street and schools are still first class, our two cinemas and theatre play to packed houses and we are a culinary centre of excellence.
The arrival of several national brands – The Ivy, Gino D’Acampo, Jamie’s Italian etc. has complemented old favourites such a William & Vic’s, The Drum & Monkey and The Orchid, not forgetting Graveleys, which still serves superb fish & chips and, of course, Bettys.
At Myrings we reflect on the latest dynamics of the property business. Interest rates are low and our house sales strong . Another 0.25% hike in interest rates can be expected but given that more than half of all borrowers in the town are on fixed rates, it will probably go unnoticed by most.
Our lettings section is very busy with stock levels low and rents steadily increasing. Forecasts of a national decline in the number of landlords is unlikely to happen in Harrogate. Our landlords are not over excited by annual yields but focus instead on the capital growth of their investments.
Estate agency in the town has changed.The days of fax machines, smoking in offices and huge “marble and glass” palaces as offices are long gone.
Technology now plays a huge role, with agents having to strike a fine balance between new and old.
We attribute much of our own success at Myrings to keeping alive the best of a traditional agency with its emphasis on friendly and expert service whilst embracing the best modern methods.
Competition between agents has always been fierce here and this is reflected in the average fees, which have halved over the past twenty years.
We are pleased to say that this has not led to a diminished service. In fact it is quite the reverse .
All the mainstream agents have raised their game and online agents in the UK have not impacted in any significant way. Canny Yorkshire folk don’t seem to believe in DIY dentistry or so-called “local property experts” living on the other side of the Pennines.