29th September 2017 | 12:00am
29th September 2017 | 12:00am
The arrival 22 years ago of my new boss in his shiny suit and white socks was a life-changing moment for me. My previous company was owned by a bank and it was clear that their primary focus was selling financial service products and mortgages, with the agency side of the business playing second fiddle.
With agency at that stage dominated by the bank and insurance backed corporates, I saw an opening for a niche practice offering marketing and valuation advice from a small team of very experienced estate agents.
The year was 1997 and James Sellicks Estate Agents on Granby Street was opened. At that time, we were one of only a handful of agents in the county with our own website, which only had sporadic activity, mainly from those with academic interests at the universities. It was before Rightmove and other property portals had been thought of. Our business grew, despite difficult market conditions, on the back of professional advice, innovative marketing and a forensic knowledge of the marketplace.
The last 20 years has been a remarkable period for Leicestershire’s and Rutland’s prices. Since 1997 we have seen a 259% rise in average prices across the region, whilst earnings have risen by just 68%. This on the face of it would seem unsustainable; but when considered alongside mortgage interest rates, which is 1997 for a two year fixed rate deal was at 7% and now available at around 2%.
Over this period, our business has grown from a single office on Granby Street to three offices to include Market Harborough and Oakham and in total, we have advised on over £2.3 trillion worth of property. The most remarkable and proudest fact is that of our 27 staff, 15 of those have been with us for over 5 years and 10 are in their second decade with the company. Our many repeat clients are delighted that they are able to renew their relationship with our familiar staff time and time again.
Changes in market conditions and demand from our clients necessitated an expansion on the range of services we are able to offer and what were once merely side-lines to our core agency business, have now in their own right, grown into very successful businesses. Our clients enjoy having access to related services under one roof.
Our lettings team specialise in high-quality professional lets across three counties and fully manage 270 houses and apartments on behalf of professional landlords with buy to let properties.
Our financial service division provides the necessary due diligence when accessing the suitability of a buyer for the purchase of our client's houses, in addition to a highly efficient and experienced team of mortgage brokers.
James Sellicks Special Projects team offers bespoke agency services to developer clients, principally in city centre apartments, where over the last 20 years we have sold off 800 new build apartments.
The latest addition to our group of companies is our survey and valuation division, with 3 local and highly experienced chartered surveyors providing private client survey and valuation work referred by many firms of solicitors and accountants.
Now 20 years on, estate agency has changed out of all recognition. The Internet provides the opportunity of distributing vast amounts of data quickly and efficiently but is no substitute for marketing skills, experience to understand the subtlety of the marketplace or adequately access risk.
Our philosophy of honest, reliable, wewell-researcheddvice based upon real experience and enthusiastic professionalism will continue to be at the heart of everything we do for our clients. We are welcoming the challenges that will undoubtedly present themselves over the next 20 years.