How did you end up working in property? Almost by accident. I saw an advert for a trainee negotiator in the Harrogate Advertiser with Wm H Brown in James Street and was soon making the tea and doing the filing.
I must have shown some real aptitude for the property business as within twelve months I was managing a small branch office in Otley and was the youngest manager for the company in Yorkshire. It was hard work but great experience which enabled me in time to move on and set up, with a partner, my own business in Harrogate.
How is the housing market faring in your area? Harrogate is known as “the Teflon town” for good reason. We have ridden out all the economic storms of modern times and today we have a robust and buoyant marketplace in every part of the town. Demand for good properties in both sales and rentals right across the price ranges currently exceeds supply.
Are there any up-and-coming places? Some areas are now very popular, including round Cold Bath Road and West End Avenue areas, which are close to Harrogate Grammar School. The area behind the Leeds Road shops is similarly in great demand.
If you were the Housing Minister what would you do and why? Where do I start? It seems to me that every reform introduced by Whitehall in recent years has made our national housing problems far worse. Stamp duty reforms and Help to Buy have been beneficial to a great many first-time buyers but it has inflated house prices elsewhere. The fundamental issue is that we are just not building enough houses to sell on the open market and council house building in England is almost unknown.
What are the best and worst things about working in property? It's good to see such a wide variety of homes as we are fortunate to be instructed on everything from cottages to country homes, terraced propertoes and semis to large detached residences with swimming pools and heated garages. The downsides are the “fall throughs “ and the distress caused – not least to us.I don't know too much about Scottish Property law but believe that their system of property offering and buying – acceptance and selling as part of a legally binding contract is much better for all parties.
Where and what your ideal home? I am living in it right now. My home is a lovely extended Victorian terraced house set over four floors in St Georges Road, Harrogate. I've retained most of the original features of this splendid property whilst modernising it. I really love the high ceilings and the polished banisters. There are echoes of the gracious living of past owners and now, the laughter now of my own family and friends.