Yes, unbelievably it is 20 years since we opened our first office in February 2004.
Our aims then were to provide a service to buyers and sellers alike which exceeded expectations. We were, and still are, keenly interested in property and more importantly finding the right home for each and everyone. Looking back, we are confident that we got this right, as many of our buyers then used us to sell, and bought again through us. Repeat business is always a sign of a happy client.
We learnt a very important lesson in those early years, and it still remains most relevant today. Technology and forward thinking ideas are great, but you need to understand your market first. A “one size fits all” policy very rarely works. We all need to adapt. Ask the right questions at the right time, listen carefully to the answers, and then suggest the most suitable course of action.
Fast forward 20 years and we find the industry has changed. Lettings transactions supersede sales. Technology automates much of what can be done, BUT our success still evolves from the brilliance of our staff, their commitment to customer service and our ethos is still “finding the right home for both tenants and buyers alike”.
Back in the Noughties, estate agents had offices in as many locations as possible, so that clients could “pop-in” to their local office to seek advice about buying, selling, mortgages and lettings. We expanded as quickly as we could and by 2010 had 4 offices open, and survived the banking crash of 2007.
Rightmove was in its infancy in 2004. We were one of the first agents in the Cambridge area to list our properties on its portal website, which brought us early rewards accessing a larger market. It was still important to use local newspapers and magazines to advertise our properties in. However, the internet was growing, social media started and shopping practices radically changed by 2015.
Footfall into the office was drastically reduced, as trends to communicate via e-mail, text messages, WhatsApp and directly from our website superseded an office visit. House moving trends had also dramatically changed. The average house move had been every 7 years, it’s now every 20 years.
The rental market has also grown. Since 2007, the demand for good quality rental housing has seen a sharp increase. A larger proportion of the population are now in the private rented sector.
At first, our lettings business grew organically with investors buying through us and then asking us to manage the tenancy, and personal recommendations brought us more and more landlords. Along with all the exhaustive legislative changes it became apparent we needed to further adapt, and in 2019 Lorraine and I decided to exit the sales operation and concentrate 100% of our time on our lettings and property management business. We were so fortunate that Anthony, with 10 years’ experience with us, took over the running and ownership of Malcolms Residential Sales.
It’s now 2024, nearly 5 full years since that momentous decision. Along with Michael, we are delighted that our Lettings business is still strong and growing.
We firmly believe and advocate that estate agents should be licensed. RoPA is the Regulation of Property Agents working group, announced in 2019 by the government, tasked to help raise standards by licencing the industry and introducing qualifications. As yet, legislation is yet to be introduced. But we are ready and compliant when it becomes law.
In 2020 we gained our Level 3 Qualifications through PropertyMark ARLA. Apart from being “ahead of the game” , the studying has increased our attention to detail and our transparent communications allows both landlords and tenants easy access to us.
A special mention should go to Caroline. She’s celebrating 19 years with Malcolms and has been at the very heart of the Cambourne office. She has contributed so much to our business and success. Lorraine and I thank you for your dedication, commitment and hard work.
We are proud of what we have achieved, but more importantly we are proud to have helped so many people successfully move home. I can’t say “here’s to the next 20 years!”, as I don’t want to be working into my 80th year, but I do hope to celebrate 30 years of Malcolms in 2034!