Estate Agents Who Know What They’re Talking About: Chris Hill, C.J.Hole Bristol

Paul Hajek | 19 Jan 2011

I am delighted to post another interview in our series “Estate Agents Who Know What They’re Talking About”.

Today, I am speaking with Chris Hill , Managing Director of C.J.Hole in Bishopston Bristol. Chris is one of Bristol’s leading Estate Agents.

I asked Chris 10 questions about the Housing Market, past present and future. Here are his replies

photo of estate agent Chris Hill of c j hole bristol1. How would you characterise the Housing Market in 2010, and were there any noticeable trends

2010 housing market in Bristol was a little bit better than 2009 though it felt consistently less steady and there were definite peaks and troughs with the market falling into its noticeable summer lull and Christmas with the cold weather but there were still some busy selling periods during the Spring and Autumn.

The buy to let market is still non- existent and this is causing a problem for lettings with rents rising and demand lack of mortgage availability.

2. What are the prospects for the Housing Market for early 2011

I think the housing market for 2011 will be much the same as 2010. The mortgage market will continue, all be it more slowly, to recover and there are signs of some better buy to let deals available, which will hopefully start to increase volumes in that market.

It is first time buyers who probably hold the key to the direction of house prices; with mortgage criteria being so stringent they are having to put in large deposits and even then are not finding very favourable rates.

I think 2011 will produce the same volume as 2010. I think Bristol will hold up in terms of prices, probably going up in Spring and levelling off over the Summer.

3. Did the abolition of HIPs have an overall positive or negative impact on the Housing Market in 2010

The abolition of HIPs did have a positive impact on the market; no one ever said to me – “I love HIPs”.

It was a solution to a problem, but it was the wrong solution. We now go back to a normal market with property in England & Wales selling under the same legislation as it has always done and there seems to be an acceptance that this will remain the same now for some time.

4. Do you see or would you like to see a HIP replacement on the horizon?

Hopefully with electronic developments, the length of the transactions can be shortened, although mortgages & mortgage offers remain the one thing that ultimately delay the process regardless of how quick everyone involved in the transaction desires to move.

5. What effect has the internet have on traditional Estate Agency 

logo of c j hole estate agents bristolThe internet, for those Estate Agents who care and embrace modern marketing, it has had a positive effect in terms of marketing and differentiators between agents.

The Internet has enabled Estate Agents to communicate in a better way than just the old press advertising. It enables the Estate Agent to provide community information about local events, planning and any other issues that we feel the local community would want to know about.

On top of this the speed of the process is increased: I believe that 70% of all sales begin with the internet.

6. What is your opinion of DIY Estate Agency sites and their potential impact?

think there will always remain a place for cheap and cheerful entry level of any service. It’s a question of how much effort an individual is prepared to put in and how good those who deliver the service at the higher end of the level can show that they are worth their fee. A good Estate Agent can demonstrate their value in many ways; be that in achieving a higher price; giving the client complete piece of mind (this doesn’t happen at the bargain bucket level) or simply freeing up time which otherwise would have been needed.

Good Estate Agents help in pushing up the standard of service in our industry, which can only be a good thing for the consumer.

7. What do you think about internet estate agency portals such as Rightmove having too much power in the Housing Market?

I do think Rightmove, specifically, has too much power; that is not to say that it isn’t good, it delivers what it claims very well.

Rightmove has a “back room” log in for us agents which we like and use.

Rightmove is without doubt the best & most functional property website in the UK. However, that comes with its downside for us agents in terms of what they are charging and are able to charge.
The fact that there seems to be no obvious alternative on the horizon is a problem.

There is, for example, on a much smaller scale, a group of agents including myself and some others in Bristol, who have subscribed to and bought shares in a website which is called Radar Homes. It is Estate Agent owned and therefore worth supporting.

8. What single improvement would you like to see in the Housing Market or the Conveyancing Process?

There is no doubt that the mortgage offer and survey are the main issues.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders could get all lenders to agree that one single survey done prior to a property going on a market would be acceptable for mortgage purposes.

Then the Applicant could have a mortgage offer issued with either an agreement as to value, a down valuation or with conditions attached.

This would be the one thing that would change the buying process for the best in England & Wales.

9. What is your prediction for house prices by the end of 2011?

House prices in Bristol at the end of 2011 will be only marginally higher than 2010.

Bristol is well cushioned from mass public sector jobs: but there is no doubt that Bristol will be affected in terms of lack of new jobs being created.

I still feel that Bristol will not only hold off the threat of a house price decreases in 2011 but is also strong enough to deliver an increase in house prices bythe end of 2011.

10. What will Estate Agency as we now know it look like in 5 years time

In five years time, there will probably be fewer estate agencies.

The pull online is a strong one especially with growing technological advances in SmartPhones, iPhones, Blackberries & iPads, etc.

At does mean there will be more and more internet only estate agents. Some of the larger corporate Estate Agent may use the opportunity to reduce the number of branch.

But there will, in my opinion, always be an opportunity for professional well run Estate Agents( with a strong online presence) to thrive and prosper and still remain dominant on the High Street. 

Thank you Chris.

Chris Hill is Managing director of C J Hole Bishopston Bristol.

A lifelong Bristolian, Chris has an unrivalled knowledge of the city and the local property market, and is in a prime position to offer clients advice and information about living in and around Bristol. He lives in Redland with his wife and three sons.

Chris likes to be part of the community – even helping out with his sons’ sports clubs at the weekend – when he isn’t busy planning his next office expansion!


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