Lester Hurst is the independent owner of Hunters Ilkley and Hunters Otley, www.hunters.com
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.
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.