How did you end up working in property? I was working in retail in Cambridgeshire and purchased my first home with Taylors (part of the Countrywide group) which had an office close by. I got on really well with the manager during the buying process and we are still in touch with each other today. He obviously saw something in me and when he was looking for a negotiator a few months later he came over to see me and asked if I fancied a career change. I had never thought about property sales but took to it like a duck to water and have never looked back. I was fortunate, I believe, with Countrywide as they had their own training school and so you had the practical learning while on the job. To qualify for a company car, I remember having to sell 60 properties in my first six months and I smashed it. Back in those days it was pre internet and I remember making property details when you had to order photos and wait 24 hours for them. I also worked every Saturday and Sunday.
I ended up in North Yorkshire to be closer to family and became a partner/ director in 2012 at Harris Bell as it was known. We rebranded a couple of years ago and expanded into the lettings side of property. It has been a huge success. We are now setting up a block management department so we are a full one-stop property dealing office now.
How is the housing market faring in your area? Certain properties like three bedroom, semi-detached homes are in great demand at the moment and have certainly seen their value go above 2007 peak prices. Apartments are still struggling a little. Scarborough had a lot of huge homes that were converted into apartments over the years thus we have a little bit of over supply. That said, well presented apartments will still sell and half our sales this month have been apartments. Scarborough housing market is still boosted by the retired looking to come to live by the seaside.
Are there any up-and-coming places? Newby and Scalby are both very popular at the moment.
If you were Housing Minister what would you do and why? I would definitely address and reduce stamp duty for second home buyers. Its very punitive and has had a big effect on our buy-to-let investors. I believe government is storing up a huge housing issue over the next few years as buy-to-let sales have plummeted by at least 60 per cent and not enough housing is being built. Selective licensing is also another unnecessary cost being passed onto landlords and it just looks like another revenue raising exercise.
Where and what is your ideal home? We have a lakeside holiday home in Florida, near Orlando, and we love it and also let it. www.villadisneyorlando.com