“It’s not just a job, it’s a life choice, and what a great choice it was”
The three young Estate Agents all met after working at the same large company, though neighbouring branches in and around Plymouth. Bouncing off the same energy, James, Helen and Leah all became very close friends from the moment they met and kept in contact wherever they decided to go in the world.
In 2006, both Leah and Helen went travelling around the globe for a year. After falling in love with the country Helen decided to move and work in Australia in 2008, however being so far away from her friends and family took its toll and Helen flew back after a year down under and settled back into a similar position working on the customer service side of estate agency but from her home office. After a short while Helen felt a longing to meet with her clients and interact with the customers as well as her work colleagues and did not fit well with work isolation.
After Leah came back from travelling, she pursued a change of career and went to work for a Training Provider advising young people and local companies about the benefits of Apprenticeships. Leah also completed various teaching courses and delivered training in Sales and Customer Service.
Whilst Leah and Helen were exploring the World, James in the meantime carried on working but had started to lean towards the corporate side of the business and dealt more with lettings. James wanted to avoid the larger Estate Agent companies as he believes their mentality is focused solely towards making numbers, selling mortgages, ticking a box and at the end of the day, James knows that there is more to a successful business than just ticking a box, which is why he jokingly repeated to Helen,
‘Oh I’d love to do it myself one day.’
James had been keeping an eye out for the right premises for a while and it just so happened that the right one came up in Peverell. So, over a spot of lunch, a large bottle of bubbly and many persuasive verbs later, James managed to get Helen on board to support him with his new venture. The dotted line was signed and James officially opened the doors to Halford and Homes in May 2018. There were many logistics that came with setting up the business and obstacles to overcome but with Helen’s help, they hit the ground running.
Fortunately, James was well known within the industry and many of his previous clients naturally approached him to manage their rental portfolios which meant their income within the first six months was predominantly from lettings. However, the balance soon shifted to property sales as this is where their passions lie which, in turn, is what drives the business to continually succeed.
You may be wondering about Leah now. Leah never felt left out as it was always part of the plan for Leah to join the team as soon as their finances allowed it. As the business grew, Leah joined her fellow friends on the 1st birthday of Halford and Homes, in June 2019. Working part-time to begin with, helping with the social media and marketing.
All three of their roles within the team can overlap, and as a result they will always be assisting each other which is one of the reasons they work so well together. Helen works primarily on the after-sales, Leah works on the marketing and James leads the sales, viewings and valuations. James’ mum, Pauline, also helps out with the company as and when they need an extra hand. Pauline is experienced with surveyors and deals with the finances so she is very well equipped to provide the extra help.
As previously mentioned, James likes to steer away from the large companies, which is what makes them unique to clients. While Halford and Homes are a small, independent business, this does not mean they compromise on experience and knowledge. In fact, it is quite the opposite. James and Helen have both been in the property industry for 15-18 years and both have a lot of experience under their belt. Whereas, larger companies will tend to hire more people who may only have a few years’ worth of experience to offer their clients. The three have built this company from the ground up and they would not have done that if they weren’t confident and good at what they do.
Estate Agents can sometimes receive a negative persona that they don’t care about the individual client and they only think about the money game. Well that couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to Halford and Homes. When Halford and Homes are faced with a house they need to sell, they are in it with the client right until the end.
It is just as important to look after yourselves when owning your own business and not just your customers. The team strike a great work-life balance which means they are happier and healthier in themselves which also reflects across to their clients. And, as I previously mentioned, their friendship is so close that work never feels like work.
A unique element to Halford and Homes is that they conduct online housing auctions. Due to the pandemic, this is something that has been adapted and it is working extremely well. People have this perception of auctions selling for under the guide price however; the Halford & Homes team have found that not to be the case. They have seen one of their listed properties, in particular, go for £20,000 above market value and the majority will sell for the guide price. This way of buying is a forgotten concept to many however it is one that involves no hassle and very little of your time. As soon as the hammer has dropped, contracts are exchanged and then the process starts instantly. The vender gets to put their feet up and the buyer has 60 days to complete the deal. It really is as easy at that.
The current housing market at the moment is very promising and Halford and Homes are doing better than ever. House prices for 3-bed properties with gardens are rising due to people being encouraged to work from home. A lot of customers are waiting for the house prices to drop dramatically however, James says that while new homes are still being built then the demand is still there, therefore, house prices will not drop.
Face-to-face house viewings are still in occurrence however, facemasks and gloves are to be worn, a questionnaire is to be filled out and no more than 6 people are allowed in the house at any one time. Whilst Virtual Tours are available to buyers, James would always encourage the buyer to have face-to-face viewing prior to agreeing a purchase as buying a house is a huge decision and one not to be made lightly.
James has a great skill of advising clients on how they can make money on their house before selling. This is entirely down to the property and its location. Once the property has been valued, James will give his honest opinion on where the vendors can make their money. This might mean not changing anything if they know it needs work, it still might not change the value of it if the area is good. Valuing a property at the right price is key to its success and that is another one of James’ brilliant skills. He believes that any house should sell within 4 weeks and if it hasn’t, then it’s at the wrong price. Halford and Homes are honest and want the best for their clients which is why they get recommended so highly.
The team have brilliant local knowledge that they always share with their clients. They are happy to advise on local schools and get to know the clients hobbies and interests to recommend areas based on lifestyle. Something that larger Estate Agents don’t always have the time for.
We always ask our interviewees where they would like to see their business in 5 years, however, it is so clear to us that within the 45 minutes that we interviewed the three of them, at this moment, they wouldn’t change a thing. Working alongside your friends, having time for family life, enjoying your career and shaping your own business is what most of us would call ‘the dream’. It is James’, Helen’s and Leah’s reality so why would they change it?
Three genuine friends that went their separate ways over the years, have finally all come together and are here to provide you
with a trustworthy, experienced service from people who really do care about you.
t: 01752 418104 w. www.halfordandhomes.co.uk
1 Weston Park Road, Peverell, Plymouth, PL3 4NS
Facebook: @halfordandhomes Instagram: @halfordandhomes