Local Estate Agent completes 30 years in industry
On 6th September 1986 Jason Maurice embarked on a career which now spans 30 years. Having just enjoyed his last summer of freedom leaving school, he knew from an early age that he wanted a career in Estate Agency.
His first job was with Allen & Harris who became the first agency in the UK to have over 50 computer linked offices. Training started at 8.30 in Didcot, Oxfordshire where the agency had a dedicated training centre replicating a real life estate agency with a map of the 4 counties it operated in with a target of zones drawn on the largest OS wallpaper map you could ever imagine. This in itself was not only impressive but visually staggering considering you could call in to any one of their branches and obtain a computer printout of the properties they handled. Considering it was printed out by a dot matrix printer (with no photographs) it was nevertheless impressive but quite useless.
The first office he worked in was 13 Commercial Road in Swindon. The town in the mid 80’s was an Estate Agents dream. With the agency having 7 offices covering a town that was growing at a rate of 8 houses a day, it was nothing short of manic. Arriving at 8.15 am and not before, his first job was to take 16 photos of the new instructions in West Swindon (which was alone a challenge as he had to declare his first problem to his boss. It might take longer than an hour or so as it would take him at least 2 hours to walk there as he couldn’t drive!).
He was advised that he was absolutely no use to the office without a driving licence and was told he had 4 weeks to pass his driving test. Indeed the challenge was accepted and completed on 10th October that year.
In the modern day of internet driven leads no such luxury was available to a 17 year old estate agent. Instead you were given a list of 150 buyers and a telephone. Not once a week but every day (including Sundays). When you weren’t on the telephone you were sticking photographs on details. Reams of paper, tonnes of photographs and a camera you had to send film off to be developed.
One of the worst jobs was always setting newspaper adverts which had to be typed, attached with a photograph and sent to the newspaper office by 12.00 on a Tuesday. You would never believe how quickly a Tuesday would arrive when you had promised a client you could get his house in the newspaper, how times have changed.
After 12 weeks of training a call was made and his next position would literally change his life. The agency had made a decision to open an office in every neighbourhood that had new housing estates and Ermin Street in Swindon had the best of both worlds. Developers building on every available space and a recent development in East Swindon which everyone wanted to live in. The office which was 300 sq ft had 7 negotiators and a manager all of which worked 14 hour days except on a Friday when you could have a swift pint at 7.00 p.m. before your 8.00 p.m. evening appointment. What it did show him you could be part of the most successful agency office in the company, with the highest profit margin selling houses at an average of £50,000 at a fee of 2.25% plus VAT.
In 1988 after a brief stint in Cheltenham he got his first managerial position in Gorse Hill, Swindon. The butt of everyone’s joke the area was highly populated stacked full of Victorian townhouses some good and plenty not so good but having an open mind and friendly approach made sure that he was the agent of choice by welcoming all parts of the ethnic community to use his skills. In fact he became so popular he was a regular at large Indian family gatherings and even a wedding of 300 guests.
After earning his stripes and a brief 1 year or so in Cheney Manor Road, Swindon, he then met his now business partner Martin Read, who at that time was a serious thorn in his side being a major competitor. However a mutual respect for good business ethics and great agency skills proved a pivotal point in both their lives as this became the foundation of friendship which then created Read Maurice in 2000.
Disillusioned with corporate estate agency in 1998 Jason left and opened up in Cirencester with a mere £20,000 start-up capital which had to cover the refit of the office, branding and marketing budget for at least 6 months. Although looking back it seems impossible, what he did realise is that if you learnt how to create a website you could get your stock into everyone’s house who had a computer connected to a dial-up internet connection. Within 3 months the first few completions took place and Jason Maurice & Co had entered into a crowded marketplace in a difficult area covering the town with a sea of hard-hitting purple sold boards.
After making enough money to consider a further business venture with Martin Read the pair opened in Cheltenham in 2000 in Andover Road where the company still trades from today.
So what about the man behind the 30 years?
“When I have a conversation with my daughter about what she would like to do it always amazes me it changes every time. From an early age well before the days of Sarah Beeney and Phil Spencer I had an unhealthy interest in property. This I guess was mainly due to my parent’s inability to ever agree on what house to move to. My mother was the sensible one wanting to cut down the 100 mile round trip doing the school run every day while my father just enjoyed his home set down a drive away from everyone and found fault in most houses they would look at.
For me having a career in Estate Agency was an easy choice.
It’s a job of two halves. Being an estate agent meeting potential buyers is all about them. Listening to their needs and wants and trying your best to remember them when you receive an instruction.
Winning the business is probably the most rewarding and most difficult thing to do in this job. However with time comes experience. The time served teaches you that if your clients want to do the very best for their property they will trust you. Trust always amazes me on every level. From giving you the front door key to their property to asking advice on how far to push the buyer up, it’s hard to imagine why so many estate agents get it so wrong.
Technology for me has been the biggest change. From internet property portals now becoming our licence to trade to the barrage of intrusive emails you get every day. But the biggest thanks of all goes to Canon for the advent of EOS 70d which is our weapon of choice when it comes to photography. However there are some things that will never replace a face to face meeting and big warm welcome when you visit our office.
We were fortunate enough to have our office refitted in 2014 and decided to turn office design on its head. Gone are individual desks and private offices. In came 3m x 2m desks which Martin & I share with our staff. This allows us to offer help on every aspect of the negotiation process and also shows our commitment to being at the forefront of the business, still racing to get to the phone in three rings and making the tea and coffee. In fact the only two things you have to agree to when you join Read Maurice is to always arrive at work on time and make the tea and coffee. Everything else is down to our constant training ethos which has ensured we retain the very best agency staff in the area and for that there is no doubt.
However I have also been lucky with my choice of my senior management team with Marc Vivet being there for most of the journey and my friend Martin Read being supportive when needed and joining me on this amazing journey so far.
When my closest friends and family ask me would I choose to do anything else my answer is always the same. I am Jason Maurice the Estate Agent. That’s all I have ever wanted to do and when you complete on a sale for the grandchild of one of your clients way back there is no better feeling. I look forward to the next 30 years when I may have the badge of honour being the oldest Estate Agent in the town.”
If you are thinking of selling your property or would like to discuss any aspect of the local property market please contact Jason Maurice on 01242 241122
Chloe was lovely, very helpful and knowledgeable. She was also very helpfully suggesting ideas of use, or change, to the apartments that I saw.