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Howards chief: Now is a good time to sell

PUBLISHED: 10:00 02 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:56 22 October 2010

Howards Group chief executive Martin Cunningham believes now is a good time to sell a house and cites his own experience as proof. With his wife and two children he will soon be moving within a few miles of his present home, having received a good offer within 24 hours of placing the property with one of his own agencies.

Howards Group chief executive Martin Cunningham believes now is a good time to sell a house and cites his own experience as proof. With his wife and two children he will soon be moving within a few miles of his present home, having received a good offer within 24 hours of placing the property with one of his own agencies.

He oversees Norfolk and north Suffolk's largest independent estate agency, which should dispose of about 2,000 properties this year, and is pleased with the high business levels through the 14 residential offices and five lettings and management branches. The company also celebrates the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the Howards name this year.

With a dedicated land and new homes team, specialist staff dealing with affordable homes and commercial property, a leisure and homes abroad division and a chartered surveying team, he believes it is a one stop shop able to handle all customers' needs. The emphasis is on customer needs and prompt, personal and professional service.

Mr Cunningham, pictured above, counts himself lucky to have a management team with more than 150 years' experience and low staff turnover. He has been in estate agency for 21 years and is an advocate of more transparency in property dealings.

“The spread of internet property websites and other new technology has benefited clients. They educate people about residential property, save time for prospective buyers and make it much easier to more accurately predict the worth of a home. This is helpful when setting a sale price, because it tends to discourage over-pricing.”

Many clients have embraced new technology, using not just websites but e-mail alerts and text messaging. Sellers through Howards can log on to their own intranet site to view the marketing history and activity on their property, how often it has been advertised and how many potential buyers have received particulars.

The company deals with studio flats to £750,000 country houses, and Mr Cunningham says about four in five buyers start their search on the web. It has its own website, uses other national and local sites and branches also have their own individual sites.

Howards is part of the National Homes Network with more than 200 member offices - he is Eastern Region chairman - and from this week will be able to advertise properties on its books through a London marketing suite near Marble Arch. People looking to rent in this region will be able to identify properties, with both facilities available at no extra charge.

The company employs more than 200 staff and is locally owned and managed. Its Essex-born boss believes now is a good time to sell, especially for those who wish to release equity in their homes and perhaps trade down.

“Personal debt is a problem for some but with the housing market as it is, most vendors are able to dispose of their properties fairly easily, provided they are realistically priced.

“The market is stable, and I don't believe we shall see it running away for the rest of the year.”

Mr Cunningham thinks 2007 will be harder to predict, largely due to the introduction of Home Information Packs. “We could potentially see a feast and famine situation, with those thinking of selling trying to do so before the packs come into force and lots of uncertainty about, including whether there will be adequate numbers of inspectors to carry out the home condition report.

“However, I believe there is a great future for the local housing market, especially as home buying and selling is now much more efficient. When I first came here, I had to make half a dozen visits backwards and forwards before I found the home I wanted. Had property websites existed then, I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort.”


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