People in Property – Marcus Evans, Crest Nicholson
Marcus Evans, sales and marketing executive with Crest Nicholson talks to The Bath Magazine about his career in property and his pride in his home city
How and when did you get into the property business?
I purchased my first brand new apartment in Birmingham city centre many years ago just as the city was about to commence its huge makeover, when I’d moved from Bath with work as an accountant. The process of buying a new apartment excited me and I formed a great relationship with the onsite sales advisors. A part time position became available on a new build development, I knew I really wanted to be part of this exciting industry, and my chance came when a part-time sales advisor job became available on a new Crest Nicholson development in early 2003.
What significant changes – for better or worse – have you seen in that time?
The industry has been a rollercoaster. I witnessed a real boom while I was still selling at Park Central in Birmingham from 2004 – 2007, where the investment market was huge, leading to soaring house prices and little help for first-time buyers.
Since then I’ve seen a real change in the industry after the government implemented the Help to Buy scheme (HTB) helping numerous first-time buyers. This really changed the culture of the industry. Crest Nicholson by this time had recently purchased what is now Bath Riverside and was working on plans for the regeneration of the old Stothert and Pitt site. As soon as Crest Nicholson obtained planning consent this was my opportunity to move back home and be part of this exciting project from the start. We started selling from a temporary marketing suite opposite the filling station with very little to see apart from concrete structures and trenches.
And what changes in Bath have you welcomed, or regretted, over the years?
Our early days of Bath Riverside saw many challenges, many local residents felt our scheme was not appropriate for the city’s heritage status, but many of those who originally opposed the development now live at Bath Riverside.
As a first time buyer many years ago I was not able to buy a property in my home city. Crest Nicholson and Bath Riverside have made it affordable and offer something for everyone, especially first-time buyers using the HTB government led initiative. It’s also been an excellent investment opportunity for investors both in terms of rental yields and capital growth. We have also sold to many families and downsizers, with a wide range of houses, apartments and penthouses offering superb views across our beautiful city. We have only recently launched our long awaited Royal View, designed by Studio Egret West architects, that offers waterside apartments near the newly refurbished Victoria Bridge, as well as a park and a restaurant overlooking the river.
What’s going to happen in the property market in the next 12 months?
The future of new build properties in Bath looks healthy and bright, where we continue to see a high demand from downsizers looking to move into lower maintenance dwellings. We will see more legislation come in where all properties coming to the market either to be sold, or to be rented, will be required to meet new energy performance guidelines.
We have seen prices in Bath steadily increase as demand is clearly higher than the current supply. Let’s look at all other major cities in the UK, they have all developed their riverside and canal networks, this is absolutely the key feature of Bath Riverside. There will always be a nervousness around the future of the UK’s housing market but this fact remains the same.
Tell us a bit about what makes your team special?
We are a close-knit team that has grown together as we have overcome the challenges of opening a new development. Being so close, we have not only been able to celebrate the numerous successes of Bath Riverside, but also special moments such as colleagues getting married, as well as becoming parents and grandparents. The team was very supportive during my career development as a sales manager and more recently as sales and marketing executive for Crest Nicholson Regeneration. I don’t see them as often as I’d like, but Bath is truly where my heart lies.
Do you have a favourite street?
It has to be Stothert Avenue at Bath Riverside. These were the first homes we sold, with their clean lines, modern architecture and steps up to the front doors, with the traditional features of Bath in mind. It’s where it all started.
I guess if I were to choose a second favourite street it would have to be Queen Square. I always think, when walking around looking at the buildings, what it would have been like to live there in its heyday. Although most of these lovely buildings are no longer homes, but mostly occupied by legal firms, the facade really has hardly changed. I walked through the square recently to see a First World War re-enactment, it’s great to see these activities in such a great setting.
I’m also a huge fan of Brasserie Blanc, it’s lovely to sit outside here in the summer, enjoying a morning coffee or perhaps a glass of sauvignon in the early evening. It’s a real treat to sit and people watch or catch up with friends. I’ve also had some great nights out in Hall & Woodhouse. It’s a very different venue, but relaxed and good for drinks after work. Even here you still get a sense you are in a former auction house, with what must be one of the best sun traps in the city up on its roof terrace. Given I’m significantly follicle challenged, I’ve come home with a sunburnt head on more than one occasion.
I love a leisurely Saturday morning walking around the Bath Farmers’ Market in Green Park. That’s got to be one at the top of the list of things to enjoy on a weekend in Bath, after a little breakfast in Green Park Brasserie, where the food is superb and service always friendly. Also another great place to sit outside in the summer.
What has been your proudest moment?
There are a few, but if I am honest it’s about the people I have sold homes to. Selling them something that is not yet built (to some buyers who were also overseas) and handing the keys over on the day of completion. Now I love to see the sales advisors do this across all my developments, it’s why we do it.
Another more personal proud achievement was moving back to Bath. The opportunity could not have come at a better time. We have seen so much change in the city with the development of Southgate, of course change for some is always going to be contentious but what an improvement to what we had before. I remember getting off the train before Southgate had been developed. There was no sense of arrival into such an historical city, now it looks great and we have a real café culture going on that draws you in towards the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. Nowadays you truly know you have arrived in Bath Spa.
Bath especially has a world renowned status, we have created a community and destination with much more to come. I am not only extremely proud to be an original Bathonian but also to be part of creating a part of Bath that has never seen so much change since the Romans.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Finding a nice country pub and sitting by the fire with my Jack Russells after a very long walk. My working days are long, so free time is when I like to keep things simple and to spend time with my better half and the dogs.