Duncan Nash, owner of Nash & Co estate agents in Bath, talks to The Bath Magazine about his three decades as a property professional
How and when did you get into the property business?
After studying sports management at college, I soon found out, when I entered the job market, that the leisure industry was still in its infancy. I ran a hospital swimming pool before realising that I needed to get a career with a future. Why estate agency? Well, I had a friend who was an agent in the south west. Jamie was enjoying his career so it inspired me to give it a go.
I was living in North London at the time, so one day I walked up Green Lanes, through Haringey, past Turnpike Lane and into Wood Green asking each estate agent in turn if there were any openings for a trainee negotiator. Eventually Haviland Estates in Wood Green decided to take me on. That was March 1986 and the rest is history. Following this experience I have always had empathy for people who have walked into my office off the street asking for a job, it does take some guts.
What significant changes – for better or worse – have you seen in that time?
As I wrote in a previous edition of The Bath Magazine, I have seen many positive changes in the industry which has led to a much more professionally regulated service, benefitting both sellers and buyers. At Nash & Co we take our job seriously and pride ourselves on trying to get the best price for our clients. We work to communicate effectively with all parties as swiftly and accurately as possible throughout the process. We recognise selling and buying a home is a complex and (sometimes) a particularly stressful time. We try and work hard to build bridges and solve problems.
Other big areas of improvements in the industry include the quality, scope and breadth of marketing now used, especially with regards to the web. Likewise, the use of email, which enables us to communicate rapidly and effectively. A big irritation is the length of time it takes for a sale to get from offer stage to completion, it certainly feels slower than it used to. But the system we use for buying and selling homes in England and Wales has not got any easier or any more foolproof, and still provides all concerned with a degree of uncertainty over months until an exchange of contracts is reached.
And what changes in Bath have you welcomed, or regretted, over the years?
I am excited to say that the city seems to improve year on year. The regeneration programmes that continue to take place have given Bath residents and visitors a thriving city to live in or visit. I was really pleased with the SouthGate complex, which offers an attractive first point of contact for those coming to Bath by train and coach.
I always think Bath does Christmas well, and I enjoy the annual festive market. Adversely, I think there have been some missed opportunities, firstly the Riverside development to me is somewhat architecturally uninspiring. Secondly, I believe the city should have taken up the opportunity offered by Sir James Dyson to develop the Bath Design College in 2008. As a Bath Rugby fan, I see the club, its ground and supporters as a wonderful financial benefit and further opportunity to boost the city in the future.
What’s going to happen in the property market in the next 12 months?
It’s difficult to predict, after all who could predict what happened last year? Stamp duty reforms for second home owners and Brexit had a massive impact on the market and threw the seasons into turmoil. The year, which started off well, turned out to be a difficult and unusual one in many ways. We have been a lot busier at the outset of 2017, so my present thoughts are, that a year of steady-to-good business levels, with a modest increase in prices, is to be expected.
The flow of more people moving into Bath year on year from out of town will I believe be a continuing trend. The foot traffic through the Nash & Co website tells us that only 35% of people who log on are from Bath with 22% from London and 12% from Bristol. I would like see more Bath homes available at an affordable price for local people, particularly for first-time buyers.
What makes your team special?
I am so lucky to have a great staff team, who have worked with me for some time. Kate is currently celebrating ten years with me as a senior negotiator, Simon another senior negotiator for four years, while Alex, an experienced agent, has just joined the team from another agent. Sylvain, our marketing assistant, has worked with me for some 15 years.
We also have top quality property related business associates, including a professional photographer, EPC surveyor, land and development broker, financial advisor and a business improvement coach. They all bring a special something to the mix. I love my team’s positive nature, natural enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile. I am very grateful to them. As someone once said to me, “there is no I in team.”
Do you have a favourite street?
I am passionate about Bath, but Weston and Newbridge in particular, as that is where I live. Church Street, is a row of modest terraced period cottages, not necessarily high value, but on the Cotswold Way and overlooking Weston All Saints Church. I often think this would be a nice tranquil road to live on later in life, I also love Tennyson Road in Lower Weston, which is close to Royal Victoria Park, for its location, style and character.
What has been your proudest moment?
Having gone through two property crashes – the first as a manager in 1990 to 1993 and the second as an employer in 2008 to 2009 – I have been fortunate not have had to make anyone redundant or even cut anyone’s hours. As an employer, having staff rely on you for an income is a big responsibility. Secondly, to be able to serve all the clients who have trusted me and my team over the years, is an immense privilege. I am also proud, that after three decades in the industry, I am still keen to learn from others and I am highly motivated to go into work every day.
Anything that you can look back at and laugh about now?
I had a lot of fun as a young trainee negotiator in London in the late 1980s. The market was vibrant and we were kept really busy. I met so many different people and experienced many situations, some of which appealed to my then immature sense of humour. The time I spent as a young negotiator putting up For Sale boards (it’s all carried out by contractors now), and the poor-quality marketing material we produced make me smile now.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I am very lucky to enjoy family life – my wife Philippa and our three children (when they are around) keep me grounded and provide a loving and stable background. Playing football with some of my best mates at FC Roman Bath; cricket with a great bunch of guys at Southstoke Cricket Club; being an active member of Weston All Saints Church are some of my interests. Philippa and I enjoy working with a charity called HCPT, which helps disabled and disadvantaged children and adults.
I have been involved with this charity for more than 20 years, Philippa over 30. We are doing a charity cycle ride from Versailles to Lourdes in France, 7 to 14 April to raise funds for this worthy cause.
You can sponsor us at: justgiving.com/CycleVersailles2Lourdes.