One-on-one interview: Jonathan Penn of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Ipswich
Stephen Maunder continues his series of interviews with prominent estate agents across the UK by speaking to Jonathan Penn, director at Jackson-Stops & Staff in Ipswich.
Could you please tell us a bit about your company and the service you provide in East Anglia?
With over 100 years of experience, Jackson-Stops & Staff specialise in country properties, with our stock ranging from cottages right up to country estates. In Ipswich, we are one of seven branches in East Anglia, and are part of the national network of 43 branches across the country. Ipswich is the county town and focal point of East Suffolk, but we cover the whole of East Suffolk from top to bottom.
What kinds of properties do you sell and let?
We range from cottages starting at around £250,000 right up to significantly sized estates priced at £3.5m. The bulk of our properties sit in the £500,000-£1.5m region, and we don't see too many over £2m, although we are currently stocking a couple of homes priced in excess of £3m. We deal primarily with residential sales, although we do manage the odd letting for existing customers.
How is the local market performing?
The market is performing well. It has been a positive start to 2014 and we're seeing confidence returning. I wouldn't say we're on fire - this isn't a situation like 1988 or 2006 - but we have seen the return of buyer expectation, with buyers ready to move quickly when they see a property become available and not being afraid to offer the guide price.
Many agents are reporting stock shortages - is this a problem in East Anglia?
The urban market is reporting stock shortages around the UK, but this hasn't necessarily filtered through to us. We have good competitors here, but our stock levels are holding up well. We have the major benefit of an excellent reputation and a longstanding track record. I've been in the business for 28 years, and we are all career estate agents who know the area and the market very well.
What is the buying demographic like in East Anglia?
Around 80% of our buyers are purchasing properties for themselves. We sell some lovely coastal homes that are popular with second home buyers and deal with the odd oversees buyer, but we don't really see too many buy-to-let purchases. In the past few years we have had a constant statistic that about 50% of our buyers already live here, and the other 50% are buyers moving in to the area. There is a big influence from London buyers, who are attracted to East Anglia because of the better value on offer here. The market here is remarkably consistent and isn't too dependent on any one sector.
What do you expect to see happen in the remainder of 2014?
I think we will see steady growth, with an increase in transactions. Economic performance always has a big effect on the market, and at the moment all of the charts are going up. This will continue to inspire confidence in the future and I expect that we'll see a steady increase as the year progresses.