One-on-one interview: Alan King of Jackson-Stops & Staff
As part of our series of interviews with estate agents across the country, Stephen Maunder speaks to Alan King, partner at Jackson-Stops & Staff in Dorking.
Can you please tell us a little about the area your company covers?
Jackson-Stops & Staff was established in 1910 and we now have over 40 branches across England. Our office here in Dorking is in the middle of Surrey and covers quite a wide geographical area. We tend to sell anything a little unusual, such as unique older properties in the towns and villages around Dorking and Reigate.
What kind of properties do you sell?
Our prices start at around £450-500,000. We have just taken on a new instruction of a 17th century Grade II listed cottage in Dorking for £550,000. At the other end of the scale, we are listing an old farmhouse with seven acres of land and a barn with planning permission for £1.35m, and we expect plenty of interest in both properties.
Surrey as a county is made up of different parts. To the north of the North Downs are the more suburban areas with very expensive real estate, but we deal with the lesser known parts of Surrey, the towns and villages with an endearing appeal set in quiet and pretty countryside.
Are barn conversions particularly popular in rural Surrey?
We see them pop up from time to time. There are a lot of farm buildings in Surrey that are either falling in to disrepair or suffering from a lack of use and they can offer quite a big financial gain, be it residentially or for a business. Converting a listed barn can be quite the trial as the integrity of the building must be preserved.
What are the current buying trends in your area?
There is a migration of buyers from south and south-west London that is much more noticeable than a year ago. People are deciding that now is the ideal time to move and benefit from the wide price gap.
There is also a very strong local market, with buyers coming from an 8-10 mile radius. Dorking is a town that people settle down in for a long time - a lot of our clients have been living here for 20 or 30 years, and this says a lot about the area. People aspire to live here as a lifestyle choice rather than because of excellent commuter links to the city. People come to Dorking to get out in to the country and it's a beautiful place to live.
What do you expect to see happen in the local market during 2014?
The market in the South East and Surrey will be quite strong this year. If activity carries on at this level, I imagine a 5-8% growth is quite possible - we'll be in a better position to judge halfway through the year. Indications show that borrowing is a little easier but lenders are still very cautious, and this is the main factor holding things back at this time.
You can find out more at www.jackson-stops.co.uk or by calling 01306 887560