John Hilton Estate Agents

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by John Hilton Estate Agents's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from John Hilton Estate Agents is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Director Marius Foster
John Hilton Estate Agents,
Brighton and Hove
John Hilton Estate Agents are a traditional, independent
estate agency which specialise in selling and letting
residential property in Brighton, Hove and surrounding
areas. They were originally founded in 1972, with Director
Marius Foster taking over the reins in 2014. They strive to
break away from the negative stereotypes attached to estate
agents by being honest, transparent, ethical and fair in the
way they do business. They abide by the ethos that you
should treat people how you would like to be treated yourself.
Clients comment how refreshingly different their approach
is, and a lot of their business is accordingly generated from
recommendations or repeat business – something Marius
expands upon.
The conditions under which we operate
The credit crunch had a massive impact on the property industry across the UK,
and, like many independent estate agents, John Hiltons had to look to diversify to
create other means of income. In 2008, we branched into lettings to complement
the sales arm of the business, and have seen the lettings side of the business grow
from strength to strength.
It was identified early on that if we were able to build relationships and provide
a high-quality service to investor landlords and sell them suitable properties for
»Director: Marius Foster
»Established in 1972
»Based in Brighton
»Services: Residential sales and
»No. of employees: 10,
including 2 university students
»Member of NAEA and the
Property Ombudsman
John Hilton Estate
renting out, this could work hand in
hand with them looking for an agent
to manage their investment. Even if the
client purchased from another agent,
if they were impressed with the service
they received, they would consider
us for management of their property.
Sometimes these new clients weren’t
enamoured with their current letting
agent (who might be complacent)
and they would instead move their
small portfolios across to our agency,
where commitment to personal service
is sovereign and key to maintaining
Brighton, where we are based, is a
major university city with a student
population of over 38,000. As a
consequence of the shortage of halls
of residence accommodation, the
large majority of students require
housing from the private sector. The
locality of our office meant that a lot
of investor landlords who registered to
buy with us were looking for “houses
in multiple occupation” properties to
rent to students. Renting property to
students can be challenging, which
is why we find that many investor
landlords prefer to employ an agent
to manage their investment or
Since 2008, we have built up a diverse
portfolio of managed properties,
from studio apartments, through
to family homes, to large student
houses. Management fees provide
a consistent and secure foundation
of income for the business. Sales,
however, can fluctuate from month
to month, especially when one
operates on a “no sale no fee”
basis. With that said, recent shifts in
government policies have brought
about a slowdown of appetite and
demand from investor landlords.
With increases in stamp duty and the
phasing out of tax relief on mortgage
finance interest, the property market
is fast becoming a less attractive
proposition for investors.
Most investor landlords we speak to,
however, don’t want to exit the market
as they would have to pay capital
gains tax, which we find underpins
and maintains the stock of available
Current and future challenges
With demand dipping from buy-to-
let investors, at John Hiltons we have
re-focused our efforts toward helping
people move home. Again, we find
that basic principles of being honest,
transparent, ethical and fair – in
addition to offering a personalised
service and going that extra mile – will
always be where our success lies.
One of the main challenges we face is
the emergence of the online agencies,
with online set-ups being a major
challenge to many industries. Due tothe
economies of scale when operating on
a national level as opposed to a localised
market, we are unable to compete
on many levels, including in terms of
marketing budgets and fees charged.
Where we are able to compete is by
not diluting the level of service we offer
to clients, and having an experienced
estate agent who is always on hand
to navigate the sale to a satisfactory
conclusion is appealing to many.
The different business model adopted
by online agencies means a smaller fee
We primarily serve the
Brighton and Hove area
In 2008, we
branched into
lettings to
complement the
sales arm of the
business, and
have seen the
lettings side of
the business
grow from
strength to
Highlighting best practice
is paid upfront, regardless of sale (albeit
there is still a fee to pay). When you
have thousands of properties up and
down the country, this model is likely
to dampen incentive and effort from
the agent to secure a buyer for the
client. We are encouraged to see clients
who, after being unsuccessful on the
online route, in a more difficult market,
are returning to traditionalagencies.
The other immediate challenge is
the proposed ban of agency fees to
tenants. Agency fees represent a large
source of all letting agents’ income
and, if wiped out overnight, would
be a big hole to fill. I agree that the
government needs to act to protect
tenants against unscrupulous and
greedy letting agents, but to impose a
total ban will certainly create casualties
within the property industry. Letting
agents have legitimate costs when
setting up a tenancy agreement, such
as referencing tenants (including
guarantors), credit checks, right to rent
checks and check-ins at the property.
Like any business, costs need to be
borne, and the natural shift would be
to the landlord. If these costs are not
passed on to the landlord, it would
mean financial cutbacks from letting
agents, which would impact the
service to tenants and landlords alike.
If costs are passed on to landlords
(who are already bearing financial
pressures as mentioned above), the
risk is that this could force landlords
to unwillingly self-manage their
properties, which could lead to much
wider implications. The sensible and
fair policy in our view would be for
the government to introduce a cap on
tenant fees based on expenses, rather
than a total ban.
As a reputable and ambitious local
independent agent, based on a
simple business model of personal
service and decency, our business will
continue to expand, despite ever-
Since 2008, we
have built up a
diverse portfolio
of managed
from studio
through to
family homes,
tolarge student
Our modern, air-
conditioned office

This article was sponsored by John Hilton Estate Agents. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister