Belong Estate and Letting Agents, Holmfirth: Selling homes and connecting people
- Credit: Archant
‘A house is the most precious thing you will ever buy. Being part of that should feel special.’ We speak to the experts at Belong, by James White in Holmfirth about returning their estate agency to how things used to be and bringing back that spirit of community
My Daddy was a Bankrobber sang The Clash...
...He probably wasn’t. He was probably an estate agent, but the shame of telling people that was too much.
They might well have said that he was a traffic warden. The tax man, even.
Does anyone choose to go into a profession where they’ll be scorned and shunned? Of course not. But it wasn’t always like this. Not in the early days.
Cutting my teeth as a young estate agent around the hills and valleys of Huddersfield and Holmfirth, I grew to know the characters and the legends belonging to the villages in which I’d find my clients their happy forever homes.
There was a palpable sense of belonging to a community. And me, as the local estate agent, added to that. In those days, we helped people.
- 1 6 great woodland walks in the Peak District
- 2 5 million pound properties for sale in Derbyshire
- 3 9 of Yorkshire’s best bakeries
- 4 Win a signed limited edition print by Fiona Odle
- 5 Win a 12 bottle case of mixed wines and champagne from Wharf Side Wines
- 6 Yorkshire Wolds walk - Thixendale to Hanging Grimston
- 7 Win a stunning brass table lamp from Opulental
- 8 Win a short break at Landal Darwin Forest
- 9 6 waterfall walks in Derbyshire and the Peak District
- 10 18 of the best lockdown takeaways across Yorkshire
We welcomed people into our office and - in return - we were welcomed into their home. It was close knit. It was personal. It made a difference to both buyer and vendor.
And then, nationally, the industry began to change. Slowly, at first. Almost unnoticeable. A steady creep that saw estate agents became more and more disconnected from the communities they served. The cars changed. The suits changed. Even the offices changed.
The more we looked like fast food joints - all primary colours and fluorescent tubes - the more we treated our clients like fast food customers. In and out. A quick turnover. Quantity over quality. Volume, not relationships.
And it burns you out.
At least, that’s what it did to me.
A house is the most precious thing you will ever buy. Being part of that should feel special - you have been given a rare front-row seat to this most intensely personal process. A privilege.
But the new landscape - cutting back on personal service to offer lower fees; fighting internet-only agents by covering a wider and wide locale - means this is now gone.
The entire estate agency industry felt a million miles away from those early days. The days when we personal and caring. The days when we belonged in a community. At what was deemed to be the height of my career, I chose to walk away. Because I realize I wanted that back. Rather, I wanted to be back involved in that which I believed in: helping people sell and find their homes. Allowing my clients to move quickly, effortlessly and happily.
Offering something personal. Something real. To belong again.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to say the things that have earmarked me as ‘crazy’ by my former acquaintances in town-centre-based estate agencies. I don’t care; they need to be said.
I believe the future of estate agency is a return to how things used to be:
• Selling fewer houses - because you don’t care how many homes I sell, just that I sell yours
• Advising prospective buyers if the house they’re viewing isn’t the right one for them
• Telling simple truths, not that awful double-speak that blights the industry
• Finding value in personal relationships, not misplaced pride in having a database of thousands. One person talking to a person. Something real.
• Not selling homes, but connecting people. Making people happy. To belong.
• Because who doesn’t want to belong? It’s everything that the industry should be about. It’s what my agency was founded on. To ensure it’s something I never forget, it hangs above my door.
Belong, by James White are Estate Agents and Letting Agents based at Fairfield House, 23a Westgate, Honley, Holmfirth, HD9 6AA.
Get in touch on 01484 444567 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.