The country might have been under lockdown, but College and County have never been busier. Busy with sales, lettings and helping the local community.
Recent weeks have been tough for everyone. Tough emotionally and tough for business’s. For College and County however their drive and passion for what they do seems to have only grown stronger.
Renowned for their customer focused ethical approach to letting and property management, the company launched their sales division in Thame at the start of the year, headed up by Darren Hunt. Coronavirus, has not made things easy but the agencies unique approach using Video and social media seems to have given them the edge at this difficult time.
Whilst without doubt the biggest challenge the property industry has faced, College and County has continued to support its staff, landlords, vendors and tenants. “We have focused on ensuring our teams are using this time to offer enhanced services, we have been surprised by how busy the market has continued to be, in fact we let more properties remotely via video viewings in April during lock down than we did in April last year,” David Gilson Lettings director explained. Video viewings have been key to their success, with both Sales and Lettings at College and County offering detailed video tours free of charge to all their vendors and landlords. Darren Hunt Sales director said “During lock down months we continued to keep in close contact with our applicants and were able to use our pre-recorded video viewings to keep buyer interest. Some of the videos have been viewed more than 100 times, showing what a powerful marketing tool this can be for anyone looking to sell”.
Estate agency was one of the first industries to have restrictions released in mid-May, both the Lettings and Sales teams at College and County have seen a huge rush of pent up demand in the market. “We have all spent the last three months realising quite how important homes are, and I think with an increase in home working and reduction in travel, more and more renters and homebuyers and sellers will be re-considering their location and priorities in their property search,” Sales director Darren explained. He estimates that 60% of calls they received since restrictions were lifted have been from searchers looking to relocate to Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire from London. They are looking for a better quality of life now they are no longer restricted to having to work and live in the same location.
A recent Dataloft Homemover Survey has demonstrated how search criteria is changing; 30% of searchers now say garden space has become a much more important consideration for them, a desire for a less urban area and being closer to family and friends has also increased.
Extra space to work from home and broadband speed have also become more important, reflecting buyers expectations that homes are now places to both live and work.
The survey suggests that Covid-19 is likely to have left a legacy of consumer behaviour change, shifting the relative importance of house buyer requirements.
The housing market locally remains buoyant “house prices in Thame and the surrounding villages are stable and likely to increase as relocations from London continue”, explains Darren. “Demand has rocketed”, he adds. “In the last week of May and first week of June we have agreed the sale of nearly 50% of our currently available properties, meaning the next challenge is finding new vendors to help sell as the demand doesn’t show signs of slowing down”.
COLLEGE AND COUNTY AND THE COMMUNITY
Community and ethics have always been at the heart of College and County’s ethos. At the beginning of the pandemic the team launched a campaign through Facebook and Instagram to offer their services, free to landlords with empty properties. These properties were to be used at no charge on a short term basis by NHS key workers needing to isolate from vulnerable family members (such as elderly parents or unwell spouses or children). “We were amazed by the response this received and really proud to have been able to support the NHS key workers with this initiative,” explains Lettings Director, David Gilson.
The team at College and County have also launched a fundraising campaign raising money to purchase tablet computers for nursing homes across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. They have so far raised £2000, purchasing 10 tablets which have been delivered and are already in use. One device recently helped a resident celebrate his 100th birthday whilst in lockdown.
The world might be a different place at the moment, but If you are thinking of buying or selling your house, letting or renting, College & County are here to advise you, represent you, and ensure you achieve your desired home move.
Simply call 01844 399292.
You can read more articles like this one in the latest edition of Thame Out.