How did you end up working in property? I am the fourth generation of surveyors in my family, indeed my great grandfather Sir William Wells founded The College of Estate Management, which is still one of the higher education options for the property profession. My first job though was selling ice creams on the beaches of St Tropez and I think I earned more money doing that than in my first few years in property in the 1980s.
I started with Chestertons in 1983 valuing flats & houses in Kensington. I moved to Yorkshire in 1993 to open an office for Chestertons in Leeds and specialised in selling and valuing residential investments, portfolios of houses and development land. I established Allsop in Leeds in 2002 where we continue to deal mostly with residential investment property, student housing and land. I have always felt that sticking to a specialism is better than being a generalist.
How is the residential property market faring in Yorkshire and are there any up-and-coming areas? It isfaring better than London and the South East at present. Our recent May auction in London saw buyers very much interested in the regions. Investors wanting better returns are looking towards Leeds and Sheffield. We are also finding strong interest and value growth in student residential investments, particularly shared houses in good and prime locations such as Hyde Park in Leeds and Broomhill and Crookes in Sheffield. There is still competition to buy and yields are narrowing. Looking more generally, I believe North Yorkshire market towns still offer good value when compared with Harrogate and York, so I think Ripon, Boroughbridge, Thirsk and Northallertion are strong places to invest or buy.
If you were the Housing Minister what would you do? It's too late now but I would never have agreed to Right to Buy. It has been a significant reason for the current shortage of decent, affordable homes to rent. Whilst it has no doubt been a great opportunity for former council tenants, we have now lost for ever some of the best local authority housing built after the War. Although there was a promise that receipts would be ploughed back into public sector housing, it hasn't really happened. It was a scandal too that the receipts didn't go to the local authorities themselves. They got swallowed up by the Treasury.
What are the best and worst things about working in property? The best is that property is really about people, not bricks & mortar. I get a real thrill seeing young people come into property and flourish. The worst thing is how demanding property lenders have become since the credit crunch. I understand it, but so many judgements are asked of valuers on many aspects other than just the value of the property.
Where and what your ideal home? If I could I'd create an amazing flat in Salts Mill. What Sir Titus Salt created was awe inspiring and it was improved upon by Jonathan Silver a century later. Today it is always an uplifting place to visit and I'd love to make it my home.