We caught up with Mark Pilling, managing director, Spicerhaart Corporate Sales
PR: How did you get into the property industry?
MP: Purely by chance! Back in 1988 I was looking for a career change from accountancy and was fortunate to be offered a position within Royal Life Estates. At this time, life assurance companies were starting to purchase estate agency chains as a distribution arm for selling endowment policies attached to mortgage products, and Royal Life Estates had just acquired 700 independent estate agencies.
PR: How is technology influencing your role?
MP: We have come a long way since the early days of pen and paper and fax machines, that’s for sure. We are now in the age of both digital and social media being used to spread brand awareness and sell property. Back in 1990, when I was at Royal Insurance (a founder partner with Countrywide, Connells and Your Move) we thought Rightmove was totally revolutionary but were sceptical about the level investment that was being asked for the launch. Just look where it is now! At Spicerhaart we have embraced technology and taken it one step further by launching FLINK. FLINK is a unique technology that target-markets properties to a buyers’ individual preferences, based on their social media activity. We have seen an uplift in both in sales and brand awareness as a result of using FLINK.
PR: How does Spicerhaart Corporate Sales differ from its competitors?
MP: We are very customer focused. We don’t have a rigid process, instead, we tailor our service to meet every client’s specific needs. We also stand out from our competitors because we have diversified into other areas of property sales. We now have an excellent mix of services and the result is that our business is a lot more secure from the feast and famine of repossession sales.
This diversification has also enabled our staff to have multi-skilled roles which is of huge benefit to business, as displayed with our performance results which are somewhat better than our competitors.
We have also recently launched our online marketing model Mustbesold which enables all clients to have both a High Street agent and an online agent marketing their properties, providing the best of both worlds. The online Mustbesold utilises our FLINK technology to find buyers that our competitors can’t and in the first three months of operation, this has already been a great success.
PR: Is the current political climate affecting business?
MP: Not really, because, as mentioned above, we have diversified into other areas over the past few years which means we are less reliant upon repossession sales. At the moment less than 50% of our income is generated from the sales of repossessed properties. In the longer term, that makes our business robust. Not only were we prepared for the fall in repossession rates, but we are also ready for any increase in interest rates and subsequent rise in possession numbers. Thanks to our 60-strong staff, we will be able to absorb this rise without any adverse effect on performance.
PR: What does the company have planned for the rest of the year?
MP: We have launched our Interest Only Expired Term product, which has proved popular. We have already used it to help a number of borrowers who were stuck with the issue of repaying the capital at the expiry date of the loan. In all instances, we reached a satisfactory conclusion for both borrower and lender.
With the inevitable increase in interest rates, we are gearing up for an increase in repossessed property on behalf of the lenders. There is only one way volumes can go and it certainly isn’t down. Many borrowers are already struggling with mortgage repayments before these rises even hit, so we expect to see an uplift in repossessions over the coming months.
PR: If you could read one property headline in the news tomorrow what would it be?
MP: HELP FOR MORTGAGE PRISONERS – There are thousands of ‘mortgage prisoners’ who for reasons cannot exit their current mortgage deals; these people need help as it has an adverse knock-on effect on the housing market as a whole.