Sanderson Young has established a reputation as a specialist in the region’s best residential properties. Was this your intention when you started the business?
Very much so – the brand was targeted at the mid to higher values throughout the region and to this day we remain focussed on presenting some of the finest rare and luxury homes we can offer.
Prior to the launch of Sanderson Young, I had established a similar brand known as G A Town and Country in the region and this was the natural progression from corporate to private enterprise.
When was Sanderson Young established and why?
We launched in January 1999 when I moved from a sales director overseeing 66 offices from Leicester to the Borders to one local branch in Gosforth with six staff and 30 houses for sale.
The corporate business had evolved with greater focus on insurance products. I had spent 15 years building a niche higher value brand which I enjoyed and didn’t want to lose.
How many offices do you now have? Is there a reason for this geographical spread?
We have four offices and five sales/lettings teams as well as our Mayfair office in London.
The geographical spread is huge, from southern Scotland to Cumbria in the west down to North Yorkshire.
Regionally, high value homes are few and far between. Historically, around 100 homes over £1 million within 40 miles of Newcastle are sold each year with Sanderson Young introducing up to 70 per cent of the buyers. However, confidence has subsided and the volumes readjusted accordingly.
As you built up the business was there a pivotal moment when you realised that you had a very significant business?
In 1999 the Journal Homemaker on a Saturday was an indicator of your agency’s influence and when we started taking ten to 12 broadsheet pages of property advertisements, then I knew we were doing something right.
Do you just sell individual properties or are you involved in larger residential developments?
About 80 per cent of this year’s budget is made up of individual house sales with circa 20 per cent, and rising quickly, from our new homes sales.
My own focus, as well as that of three of my colleagues, is within new homes and we have a background between us of selling the majority of agent-led developments throughout the region.
Typically, we are working with Places for Peoples and Urban Splash on the regeneration of the former Smiths Dock to create up to 800 dwellings.
This scheme is amazing and will offer a great regional choice for buyers to live in iconic buildings, newly constructed with great views of the River Tyne.
I’m proud to be associated with leading urban regeneration projects throughout the North East.
We have nearly 20 new homes sites as work in progress and expect these to fill a significant gap in the region’s supply of quality homes throughout all price levels.
Could you give me an example?
As well as Smiths Dock, we have 11 detached houses due to be released this summer in Jesmond with nearly 100 people on the mailing list already.
We have sites providing beautiful larger family homes in Alnwick, Lesbury and Rennington, as well as ten amazing holiday homes in the surfers’ paradise of Coldingham Bay, north of Berwick.
Ponteland, Winlaton and Longhirst, just north of Morpeth, are other project locations. The mix of prices and styles of properties is exciting.
Is the market very much about purchasers moving within the region or is there a trend for incoming purchasers?
Out of region buyers have been a lifeline for us and every year, normally in the first quarter, we register a very healthy number of buyers who are often getting “out of London and the rat race”.
These buyers are looking for value for money, swapping a two-bed flat in London worth £1 million for a fabulous new or older home in Northumberland.
They also want an easy commute, good schooling and quick access to the hills and beaches that surround us, to let them live work and play in a more relaxed and beautiful environment
Our website traffic has nearly 20 per cent of its readers based in London and even seven per cent out of the United Arab Emirates so our clients’ homes are certainly well travelled!
2018 is all about the continuing Brexit debate and, more locally, devolution. What is your feel for the sentiment within the North East?
It surprises me really, as such a large number in the region appeared to vote for Brexit without a thought for how their employment might be affected. Yet we know that the European model is broken and needs intensive care, so I suppose the question is should we be part of the repair or a catalyst to the break up. The North East is a very proud region and the recent announcement on the North of the Tyne devolution is a good one with a £600 million investment chest coming. The region has to recognise its strengths and its weaknesses and, like its sports clubs, know when to change direction, management and its players to succeed in the future.