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Maurice Kilbride: The property market in the North West over almost three decades

North West

We caught up with Maurice Kilbride to discuss the evolution of the property market in the North West of England, the effects of Brexit and Boris, his view on technology in the property sector, and now the potential impact of Covid-19 on the market. Maurice is a top estate agent in the Cheadle & Stockport area who has been in the industry for almost 28 years.

 The property market over the past few decades

“I’ve been in the business for 28 years, and I am proud to say we’ll be celebrating 20 years of Maurice Kilbride Estate Agents this year. I’ve seen numerous changes take place in the industry over the past three decades. I must say that Cheadle generally mirrors the rest of the North West and overall we have seen a great improvement in the market here. There are  more properties being built; Salford Quays in particular has transformed a once very depressed area, new schools, improved infrastructure and road networks have helped speed up transport links, and all of these have contributed to rising house prices across the region. Cheadle has been no exception!

Cheadle is a very nice area, with a wide and varied selection of properties. Over the last 10 years prices have gone up significantly. The average house price across SK8, which includes Cheadle, Cheadle Hulme, Gatley and Heald Green is currently £334,500, which is an average increase of £97,000 or 41% over the last decade alone. By comparison SK3, which includes Edgeley and Cheadle Heath, prices have risen almost 47% over the decade and now stand at an average of £199,636, which is an increase of around £58,441.

 Another thing we’ve seen in the North West is more private sector investment. This is not so much the case in Cheadle as it is not near a university: the university towns are where the real investment has been, such as in Manchester city centre and Salford, plus lots of other towns and cities across the region. I’d say that since Brexit was first muted and inflated house prices in London, Manchester has become one of the most popular new destinations for investors.”

Challenges of being an estate agent in the North West

No matter where you are located, being a High Street agent is becoming more difficult all the time. There is a lot of downward pressure on fees caused by the advent of online agents and there is a requirement for agents to constantly improve customer service, modernise, bring in new technology and improve their use of social media. For example, we now use Facebook marketing as an integral part of our marketing strategy, which is proving highly effective.

 As the industry is modernising, this means that agents need to invest in the best quality staff, training and technology; and the costs keep escalating. Soon, the way estate agents are regulated, trained and licensed will be changing, and we’ll all have to work within parameters to ensure this. This also means we should change the way we look to hire and have to adjust the recruitment process to meet the new demands of 2020. There are so many moving parts to it all and it is constantly moving!

 Agency has evolved from hard selling to helping by providing great content marketing and information. There may well be less agents over the next 5 years, but the quality of those remaining will be higher and the public perception hopefully much better!”

The effect of Covid-19

 “Obviously the great start to the year and all the accompanying positivity has evaporated very quickly with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. These are the most challenging and frightening times our country, families and businesses most of us have ever faced. Coronavirus has had a devastating effect on businesses across the country and world wide and the property industry has been hit extremely hard, with offices, transactions and pipelines all in lockdown. However, out of adversity springs hope and the property industry has really rallied round and working collaboratively to ensure agencies continue and come out the other side leaner, employing better practices, systems, technology and communication and ready to hit the ground running”

75% more first-time buyers than last year

 “We’ve registered more buyers across the board, however it is particularly pleasing that we’ve seen a significant rise in first-time buyers: we’ve registered 75% more first-time buyers in January 2020 than we did this time last year.”

Technology in the property sector

 “I am a bit of a techno-geek and I love gadgets even if I don’t quite understand it all. I find that new technology can make such a difference to agents and how we service clients. We can thank online agencies who sold their services well to the public and, as a result, forced traditional agents to up their game.

 As agents, we need technology because clients want things to be as easy as possible and information at their fingertips at times that suit today’s busy lifestyles. They want access to everything through their phones and tablets, to do things from home or at a time convenient to them. 

Embracing technology simply makes the job a lot easier. Mio is one of my favourites. It is excellent for this and makes communication so much better, providing clarity and regular milestone updates across the chain. It has helped solve problems in our business such as helping speed up the conveyancing process which can be one of the most frustrating parts of the process.”

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Maurice Kilbride has been selling property in south Manchester for over 25 years and is a passionate advocate for improving standards in estate agency. 

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