Latest Homes meets with Martin & Co as they enter the Hove lettings market
Whilst 2009 was a difficult year for property sales, it was certainly a boom year for lettings. People who couldn’t or simply wouldn’t sell turned to the letting opportunity, and the letting market was fast to respond. It created a much-needed, good news story for the property world and in turn helped boost the recovery of the sales market too.
At the same time all this was happening, David McCarthy decided the time was right for him to make a life-changing decision.David had worked in banking for most of his adult life, much of the work linked to the property market through mortgage business. Born in Brighton, David relocated to Leicester when Alliance Building Society, whom he worked for, left Hove. It was there he met Amanda Palmer who worked in the same team at the bank and she is now both his life and business partner.
David says: ‘‘I got to a point in my life where I was ready to leave and I took advantage of a redundancy package that I was being offered. It was time for me to do something for myself and back on my own home ground. I could have easily continued in the same field but I was ready for change. So I looked around at the options; for something that I could do for myself that had a synergy with my past experience.
“Martin & Co were awarded Best Large Lettings Chain 2009 in the ESTAS awards – we now plan to apply that ethic and build that brand here in Hove”
‘‘A franchise business seemed liked a good idea as it would offer support, know how and specialised knowledge. I had settled on the idea of the property industry and Martin & Co were my first choice as they were open to non-industry approaches. Their franchise package came with three intensive weeks’ training plus the support of an operations director who spends time with us at our new Church Road office in the heart of Hove. They also offer fantastic marketing advice and we have access to a very strong sales and marketing team based in Bournemouth.
“Being part of a franchise also means we are backed by our extensive website [www.martinco.com] which is an invaluable source to both landlords and tenants – even those who are not registered with us. In addition we get legal advice access to two firms of solicitors, plus their own compliance and best practice management support.
‘‘I was very surprised that Hove was available as a franchise opportunity. Brighton and Hove had been one territory but had at a later stage been split in two. We were very lucky as it was exactly where we wanted to be, and a place I have first hand local knowledge of. So I liked the company and the area that was available to us. They were very open about that too and did not make us apply for a franchise without knowing what areas might be available as some companies did. They also liked the fact that I had local knowledge as I am a local guy.
‘‘We have been open now for five weeks and are already getting a great response. We were very busy the first few weeks and now we are getting to grips with the administrative side of what we do. We obviously offer the same services that all letting agents will offer, but we have a freshness and an enthusiasm that makes us special. We certainly plan to never let complacency creep into our business.
We can offer the same level of back-up that a major corporate can but in an independent way. And it’s the independent route that the people of Brighton and Hove seem to like and respect.
‘‘We are actively looking for both landlords and tenants. We believe that landlords like agents who treat tenants and their properties well. Maintaining good properties and good tenants is the sure way of securing the long-term investment that a landlord is making in the field of property. For some it is a pension, and for others a business. Whichever, finding the right tenant for the right property and being honest with a landlord about a property’s market potential are key to success.
‘‘Research is the key to getting prices right and we get massive support from Martin & Co for this. We are also nals affiliated which is the only government-backed scheme for the lettings industry. We have been through a rigorous process to become members; we also use a client deposit protection scheme, DPS custodial scheme, and are members of the Property Ombudsmen scheme which is lettings specific.
‘‘We are certainly not interested in bargain offers long term. Our intention and the Martin & Co brand ethic is to be the best and not necessarily the cheapest. We are confident that landlords will recognise that. We would rather do what we do well for a fair and competitive price than offer cheap rates and only be able to supply a cheap service.
‘‘Our new office is in a great location and we are already getting lots of walk-in business. We believe it is essential to have a high street presence as well as internet and advertising presence. It is all part of our marketing mix. It builds the brand name and attracts both landlords and tenants.’’
Martin & Co is the largest letting only chain in the UK with 170 offices and growing. They are also proud to say they are the UK’s number one letting agent. Earlier this year they were awarded Best Large Lettings Chain 2009 in the ESTAS awards which is voted for by landlords. 30,000 landlords were asked 17 questions about service and Martin & Co came out on top. ‘‘It is a fantastic achievement for the brand and we now plan to apply that ethic and build that brand here in Hove.’’
Martin & Co, 32 Church Road, Hove BN3 2FN, 01273 746468 www.martinco.com