When I last wrote to you we had welcomed aboard our new additions to the Hunters Franchise family in London’s Tower Bridge area, Bishopsworth in South Bristol, Middleton in Manchester, and a new branch in Torquay. We had come out of lockdown 1, and we were continuing to build on great sales figures that had continued throughout Q1 and Q2 of 2020 – even though the going got tough at points, our ability to quickly adapt our ways of doing business to be more online and virtual have stood us in good stead going forward through differing periods of local, regional, and national Covid-19 restrictions.
Since August, I’m pleased to announce that the Hunters family has been joined by a further four new franchised branches, therefore, I would like to extend a warm welcome to our new franchise owners, Vikram Sandhu at our new Lee branch, Aiden Bentley-Smith at Shipley, Dale Hesketh at Crossgates, and Rob Stewart and Andrew Barker at Maidstone. Great to have you all on board and I cannot wait to be part of your exciting new journey!
The housing market is remaining strong in many areas, however, the areas hardest hit with spiralling Coronavirus cases, and many long weeks of closure, have really felt the pinch as local economies have struggled to keep afloat. My advice to all agents in these unpredictable times would be to make sure you are seeking all the help you are entitled to from the UK treasury, look at ways to protect the assets you have, and stay strong for this to pass.
Understandably, investment in the construction industry faltered during Q1 and Q2, but this area is also now seeing confidence growing as property investors and residential housing developments are back on the agenda, helped by the government’s intervention in reducing much of red tape associated with planning permission. Industry figures currently show that Q3 saw a 70% increase over Q2 for new homes beginning construction with over £1.8bn of capital being injected. Not only will these new homes be a great addition to estate agent portfolios, but they will also start to address some of the issues related to the housing shortage and get our economy moving again while safeguarding jobs.
Alongside the upturn in residential construction, several other government strategies have provided support to help the housing market keep moving. The Bank of England dropping its policy interest rate to just 0.1% has dramatically lowered mortgage rates to help affordability, extensions within the help to buy scheme, and the holiday on stamp duty, are all aimed at stimulating a rise in property transactions.
Like many people in the UK, I am working from my home office; at first it felt quite strange and possibly even a little disorientating, but what I have really been grateful for is the daily interaction and contact with our franchisees. The aspect of my job that I have always loved the most is getting out and about to meet so many dedicated independent agency owners, some already on their journey under the Hunters brand, and others looking at proactive ways to grow their business under the umbrella of Hunters Property Group. Through our past investment in dedicated prop tech, and our agency portal interface, it is great to be able to keep connected, albeit virtually, until we can all safely meet IRL again. The breakthrough in vaccine development in the USA and in particular- the success of UK scientists based in Oxford, the roll out of the vaccine to fight Covid-19 will hopefully mean I can finally safely hit the road again and do more business with you all face to face. One of the downsides to working from home is I seem to have developed a minor case of oniomania- well, the internet is a great place to do business!
If you are thinking of taking the next steps to take your independent agency to the next steps, please do get in touch with me to find out how Hunters® can get you where you want to be.