30 yearsHow times change – and I have to say, largely for the better. When I first started in estate agency in 1987, it was a very different place and over the years, increasing advances in technology have hugely improved every aspect of property sales and lettings.

Back then of course we had no mobile phones, email , computers or digital photography. As a junior negotiator one of my jobs was to take the cameras (a bulky SLR and a Polaroid instamatic) to take property photos.  This would involve taking the photos (hoping that they would come out ok) and then ordering a large picture for the window display, a dot screen to photo copy details and if the property was really special we would order some sticky colour photos for our brochures.  The film would be processed overnight and the photos delivered the next day and if the photo didn’t come out you received a stern telling off and sent back out to do it again!

The advert that you placed in the local property paper and your office window display was the only real way of attracting new buyers, with prospective purchasers who would take to the streets scouring estate agents windows for properties to buy. The internet of course has changed that process beyond all recognition.  Instant photos going straight online with purchasers logging on to view your new style ‘window’ display in the comfort of their own home.  Looking back it is hard to see how we managed before all the technology that we enjoy today, came into being.

Lettings as an industry, has probably changed even more than residential sales with the explosion of the ‘buy-to-let’ market. I remember as a junior lettings negotiator dealing with an office full to the rafters with hefty lever arch files and accountants furiously puffing on their cigarettes as they worked on their ledgers.

Around 1995 things had started to change, but we were still issuing Section 20 notices and the Fire Regulations had not yet been introduced. In fact when the Fire Regulations were bought in we had a bizarre situation where we were dumping excellent quality furniture on behalf of landlords only to replace it with really inferior items, to be compliant with the new law.

As we reached the end of the 1990’s the attitude to renting had changed completely. The Thatcher generation and their obsession with home ownership were slowly being eroded as house prices recovered and kept rising.  People still had to move and renting became the only option for many. This increase in demand attracted some very forward thinking individuals who saw the potential and started to buy properties specifically to let them out.  At the time it was considered a very brave move but as it turned out, a very shrewd move.  I think most people have had an experience with property where, with hindsight, they would have done something differently if they could.  How many times have I heard someone say ‘if only I had kept hold of that property, it would be worth a fortune now’.

The quality of rented accommodation improved as tenants had more choice and generally speaking the legislation brought in has given landlords and tenants greater peace of mind. The British ‘love affair’ with property is as strong as ever, but it is a constantly evolving relationship and like all relationships not without its ups and downs.

Mike outside new office, may 2015 crop2If you would like to know more on current lettings legislation and how today’s technology can help you let your property, please contact myself and my team on 01252 514000 or lettings@mackenziesmith.co.uk.