Monday, 30 April 2018

Interview with Nicola Spencer - Spencer. The Estate Agent, Sheffield #iamspencer

Q: How is the housing market faring in Sheffield (prices, hotspots, activity, who’s buying etc.)
A: Sheffield has always had a remarkably robust property market, even through troubled times, we haven’t seen the disastrous effects like some smaller cities and towns. Currently we have plenty of first time buyers looking and the Help to Buy has definitely encouraged some to the market, as well as having encouraged some lenders to compete with similar products. Aspirational movers are also on the up and up, and a shortage of supply in the most popular areas is meaning that there are multiple bids pushing the values higher, sometimes with extraordinary results. Largely this is led by school catchment, and is usually a consideration for resale, even if the current buyers don’t have children of their own. Investors are cautious with the changes in regulations and taxation, but are still out there in their droves buying particularly in the city centre.

Q: Are there any up-and-coming places?
A: Once upon a time, not so long ago, the idea of living in Sheffield City Centre was laughable, but the truth now is that it is affordable, convenient, diverse, and on the rise in popularity. We thought we were taking a bit of a chance taking on volumes in the city centre over the last couple of years but now that we are the top selling agent in S1, it seems to have been a risk worth taking. The buyers are as diverse as the properties; the quality of properties and the quality of buyers mean that you have to know your market, but plenty are selling, prices are stable, and the long term prospect of the city centre is such that it is worth looking into.

Q: If you were the Housing Minister what would you do and why? (i.e. bring back council housing, change stamp duty etc etc
A: The regulation of the estate agency business is a MUST in our eyes, Spencers have been regulated and licensed for decades and have always felt that the credibility of being audited and regulated should attract more conscientious clients and discourage those with the wrong intentions. With the changes in CPR and the soon to be changes in GDPR, the regulation of certain EU requirements are pushed on to agents, yet the agents have little or no policing and the OFT, Ombudsman, and the ASA do little to monitor rogue agents, unless a consumer reports them. If landlords were licensed and so were agents, we would not need such heavy over protection of tenants, which would lead to a fairer overall management of property, tenancies, monitoring of bad advertising, and would improve the industry overall. And the internet agencies would need to comply!  

Q: What are the best and worst things about working in property?
A: I love my job. There is nothing at all bad about working in property! Every single day is different, every client, property, circumstance, is different to the last and so life is never dull. My worst day ever was probably attending a repossession on behalf of a bank about 20 years ago, the lady had mental health problems following the suicide of a loved one and had started to collect animals for comfort. When she was repossessed the RSPCA took all her animals at the same time and my heart broke for her. On the flip side of that though, many people feel super excited to move and can’t wait to get their keys for their new home so it is great to hand them over at the end of their journey, which is usually an interesting one! It can be pretty stressful moving home, and when people are under pressure it can bring out the worst in them, so patience is key and a good listening ear needs to always be on hand. If you like architecture though, and are nosy about how others live, you just need to add in tenacity, enthusiasm, and a thick skin and you would love it!

Q: Where and what your ideal home?
A: Not to be greedy but I would need two! If price and location and planners were not a consideration I would have a Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater inspired house surrounded by hills and views and countryside and fresh air with an internal courtyard and large mid-century style open plan rooms, water features, and trees. On the flip side of that, I would also love a penthouse apartment in the thick of it with a huge roof terrace and with extensive city views! If money were no object though, I’m not quite so sure that either of these places would be in Sheffield, the apartment would likely be in New York or Paris and the FLW would likely be in Mykonos….. one can dream!

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