Gatehouse estates

Phillip’s blog in My Friend

In this job you can imagine how many people I have met, I’ve been a local Estate Agent for nearly 20 years and sometimes my memory of names, addresses and even specific details or events surprises me. There are times when I can recall useless information about a sale or a purchase from 15 years ago but sadly there are also times when I meet people and although I recognise them, I have absolutely no idea where from.

I’m not the best with names either, I’m sure some of you will sympathise, that horrible moment where you hope the name you’ve used is right or the just as awkward conversation where you have to avoid names altogether. The strange thing about dog walking is that I think I know nearly all of the local dogs by name but have no idea what their owners are called. My wife and I are expecting a baby so it’ll be interesting to see if the same is true with children. Do you get to know all the kids names and none of the parents?

I had to laugh this week when a friend showed me a letter his son had written. This was Jack’s letter to Father Christmas and after explaining he’d felt that he’d been a good boy, the Christmas present wish list began. He’d asked Santa for a new bike, a dog and a James Bond Scalextric set which, if he’s lucky enough to have received, I’ll be round to play with! I’m sure as Jack gets older this list will become far more extensive. Much to his Dads annoyance I suggested that next year he could cut things out of the Argos catalogue and stick them on. It got me thinking, it’s been a long time since I’ve written to Santa but what would be on my wish list?

From a personal point of view the Audi A7 looks like a great car, I’d like the new iPhone that talks to you and a season ticket for Northampton Saints would be lovely.

As an Estate Agent there are lots of things I would have liked from Father Christmas. It would be nice if we could hurry up and sort out the global financial crisis, increase Mortgage lending especially to first time buyers, get some positive media attention for the housing market and stop drunk people from moving my for sale signs!

In truth 2011 was a good year for Gatehouse Estates. We have expanded into St. Neots in the summer and having a base there in addition to our Godmanchester office has given us great coverage of Brampton, Buckden, the Offords & Paxtons as well as the smaller villages like Toseland, Yelling & Graveley.

We sold far more houses in 2011 than we honestly expected to at the beginning of the year. We’ve had numerous successes in St. Ives, Kimbolton & Brampton as well as in St. Neots and Godmanchester. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has chosen Gatehouse over the last year and especially to those who have been kind enough to recommend us to others. All of your support is very much appreciated.

Whilst I may have a long wait for a new Audi and the season ticket, we are optimistic about the market in 2012. I think banks will continue to lend a little more, I don’t think we’ll see interest rates rise, people looking to sell will have to continue to be realistic on price and buyers confidence will grow as the market strengthens. I’m looking forward to getting more people moving.

Rightmove’s latest Consumer Price Forecast reveals that the majority of prospective home movers do not expect house prices to be lower by the end of 2012, despite the on-going economic gloom at home and abroad. The survey, which polled more than 25,000 people, found that nearly two thirds (63%) expect house prices to be the same or higher 12 months from now, with less than a third (30%) expecting prices to be lower.

There is speculation that the much publicised housing shortage in the UK, which is currently pushing up rental values and the continued population increase will eventually push up property prices. The Centre for Economic and Business Research have predicted price rises of 15% by 2016 which I think is optimistic but we’ll have to wait and see. Whilst the future remains unknown I can offer a free, current, up to date valuation if you are looking to sell and any advice you may need on achieving the best possible price for your property.

If you are thinking of selling or letting call Phillip on 01480 434290 or pop in and see him.



An earlier blog From Autumn 2011


The old joke about us goes “Why won’t you see an Estate Agent looking out of the window in the morning? Because they’ll have nothing left to do in the afternoon!”

I’ll be honest the window by my desk looks out over the river on The Causeway so you might catch me glancing out of the window regardless of the time of day.

When you walk into Estate Agents offices there are always desks manned with guys shuffling paper or busily typing away on a computer but what do we really do all day?

We start with a quick team meeting to catch up on the day before and to plan the day ahead. Nothing worse than not knowing what’s going on. It may not always look like it but our office in Godmanchester is busy, there are five of us based here and three more colleagues now based in our new St. Neots office.

On the letting side of our business we manage hundreds of properties for landlords, looking after everything from monthly rent payments to emergency repairs. When we are instructed to let a new property photographs and details need taking. These are uploaded to several websites and prepared for the Hunts Post newspaper advert. Office window adverts are printed, a ‘To Let’ board arranged, we contact prospective tenants from our mailing list, handle telephone enquiries, arrange and accompany viewings at the property, prepare inventory and condition reports, take a holding fee when we find a tenant, reference & credit check them, prepare the tenancy agreements, arrange the move in, collect the deposit and take the first months rent. When you think we can have around thirty properties available to let at any time, we can take ten new ones on some weeks and all within a 15 mile radius of here, it keeps you busy!

On the sales side the initial valuation of a property takes time to prepare for, we always do our research on a property and prepare a report for the owner before turning up to an appointment. Valuations can take an hour or so, we discuss not only value but our marketing, fees, the legal requirements, the selling & buying process and we can answer any other queries. Once instructed the initial marketing & viewing process is similar to rental but we often need to negotiate with buyers and check chains and mortgage arrangements.

As an Estate Agent every day is different, this week I have valued a very unusual period property in St. Ives, a bank repossession and a house that the couple bought

from us 20 years ago. I have had numerous viewings on different properties for sale and to let.  I have taken three more houses onto the market and sold one already. I’ve collected contracts from lawyers, got them signed and returned them. I’ve delivered keys to a new home owner, put two ‘For Sale’ boards up, carried out a couple of routine inspections on houses we manage, ordered some new lighting for our St. Neots office, had lunch with my mum, got a lady’s printer working for her, prepared the newspaper adverts, spoken with hundreds of people on the phone, arranged the weekend rota, updated the websites, hoovered the office and still found time to look out of the window!

This is a great career for meeting people, most of whom are a pleasure to deal with. I met a couple this week that have lived in Godmanchester for longer than I’ve been alive and another couple who only moved to Brampton because whilst driving up the A1 from Hertfordshire they needed a toilet stop and they fell in love with the village.

A good Estate Agent has to be a jack of all trades, from photographer to economist to negotiator. We have to do marketing, advertising, selling, PR, counseling, IT, driving, arranging, sales chasing, buying, accounting and communicating. The office diary can change at the drop of a hat too so we have to be flexible and accommodating to strike whilst the iron’s hot.

The downsides? I’ll get no sympathy for mentioning the hours we work. Often appointments will be early evening or weekends but that is the nature of the job. It’s better now than it used to be thanks to technology.

Over the years I’ve had a few problems with burglar alarms, I’ve broken keys in locks, been bitten by a dog, ripped my trousers on a fence, fallen into a flower bed and lost a shoe. I’ve been to several unpleasant repossessions, been stood up countless times, I’ve found squatters in a house cooking Pizza, broken a window and found people asleep in bed.

All in all, I love what I do and after nearly twenty years I still don’t want to be doing anything else. Hopefully my passion & enthusiasm comes across to our clients and must be one of the reasons for our success.

 If you are thinking of selling or letting call Phillip on 01480 434290 or pop in and see him.


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