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was relaunched in the marketplace.” Jervis says: “Since Peter joined us our sole agency instructions have pretty much quadrupled, and since January 1st this year they have more than doubled from 259 to 562 today. Total instructions are up by 23.8 per cent, however this figure is low given that we have focused the team on sole agency instructions and have walked away from unsaleable referral stock.” The group acts for volume housebuilders such


as Barratt and Charles Church/Persimmon, and is just about to launch a stand alone new homes office in Horsham. “We are very active with several HAs,” says Jervis, “as well as big regeneration sites coming on stream in the Thames Gateway. We also have lots of medium-sized housebuilder clients, and of course we still look after the same local builders who we know one day could grow into something much larger – we never forget where we came from.” From its monitoring of the land and new homes market, Spicer Haart is seeing signs of increased market activity across the board. Jervis says: “We have three strategic land managers, whose job is to source land for developers – the latest arrival started two weeks ago. There is lots of appraisal work going on which means more people looking at land, and there is definitely an increase in land acquisition activity – we have no shortage of enquiries as soon as a site becomes available. I think we are in a ‘get on with it’ market. The time to wait and see is over. And on the consumer side, we have seen a constant increase in enquiries over the last few weeks, both in our branches and on our websites.” Nearly everybody I have interviewed for this column has said there can be little improvement in the fortunes of the housing market until mortgage


“There is definitely some loosening of mortgage financing.We’ve currently got several 95 per cent mortgage schemes available”


availability improves. Well, as a man with many years’ experience in the mortgage sector, Jervis has good news. “There is definitely some loosening of mortgage financing. We’ve currently got several 95 per cent mortgage schemes available – and these enable those people who have been saving for a ten or 15 per cent deposit to make a purchase ahead of the timeline that they originally planned. They’re not available for everybody, but they are definitely out there. We’re seeing a lot more competition between lenders as well. There is an interesting face-off coming up between Santander and Barclays Woolwich. They are trying to buy a share of what is a fairly clean mortgage market at the moment. There is also a definite increase in the number of first-time buyers, especially when compared with this time last year. I’d qualify that by saying that June is possibly spoiling us because April and May were so disrupted with bank holidays – there is a general feeling that we are playing catch up now from the recent holiday period.” Jervis says that one of the reasons for Spicer Haart’s continued success is its enthusiastic adoption of social media. “We’ve really embraced social media – I’m learning about it all the time. Since November last year we’ve gone from 2,888


followers on Twitter to just under 9,000 now. Our branches are tweeting details of new properties as soon as they come on and our managers are telling prospective buyers that the best way to find out about properties is to follow the office on Twitter. If you look at the profile of people who will be buying property in five to ten years time, I don’t think they are going to want to buy a newspaper – they’re going to want a virtual estate agent they can access online.” In his role as managing director, whose aim is to “lead our strategic vision and sales drive”, Jervis is bullish about the future. “We currently have just under 200 offices nationwide, ranging from Barnsley in the north to Torquay in the south. We are still on the look out for more acquisitions, and have just completed the purchase of a lettings business in Northampton. Last year we opened seven branches, including two acquisitions, we are about to complete another acquisition in north London, and are in negotiations over a couple of exciting, pretty sizeable businesses which we want to join the Spicer Haart Group.” “We go the extra mile for developers, helping


them to maximise the potential of all of their sites,” he concludes.


sh showhouse July 2011 | 51


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