Malcolms Estate Agents

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Malcolms Estate Agents is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Directors Malcolm and Lorraine
In 1986, Malcolm Thomas, a mathematics graduate, and his
wife, Lorraine, a religious studies teacher, began their careers
in estate agency with a leading Cambridgeshire independent
firm. Eighteen years on, they founded Malcolms Estate Agents,
with a focus on promoting professionalism, honesty, integrity
and transparency throughout all of their operations. Even
though Malcolm and Lorraine are directors, they have always
prided themselves on working at the front end of our business;
Lorraine tells
The Parliamentary Review
about this ethos.
When we started out in the sector in 1986, we experienced the highs and lows of
the abolition of joint Miras – prices dropping by 25 per cent and mortgage rates
of 15 per cent. With a young baby and a high mortgage plus our workload, we
suffered somewhat from a brutal learning curve; this did, however, put us in a
strong position to cope with the future peaks and troughs of the housing market
and any legislation that government could throw at us.
Founding Malcolms Estate Agents
We established our own business in 2004.
As directors, we have always been proud of the fact that we work on the front line
to offer clients 24-hour access. We recruit staff from diverse backgrounds, nurturing
salesmanship and, above all else, customer service. We have invested in professional
photography training to provide the best representation of each property we
possibly can, and we provide interactive floorplans to clients at no extra cost.
»Directors: Malcolm and
Lorraine Thomas
»Founded in 2004
»Based in Cambourne,
»Services: Residential sales and
»No. of staff: 7
»Malcolms cover Huntingdon
and Cambridgeshire
Malcolms Estate
Highlighting best practice
We believe in being honest with our
clients about market conditions and give
them advice on how to best present their
home for viewings. We provide instant
viewing feedback and regular updates
throughout the sales process, and we
have developed a strong and stable team
based on service; recommendations
are key to our success.
Being an estate agent today
Estate agency is a hard business to
plan for, and that is especially true
in today’s world. With greater media
coverage and the internet, just a
throwaway comment about higher
interest rates or a possible economic
downturn can all too quickly become a
self-fulfilling prophecy.
Government intervention, such as
changes to stamp duty, the Help to
Buy scheme, interest rates and the EU
referendum have all contributed to
unpredictable trends in the housing
market in the past. The first great
challenge of this kind that we met,
however, was the financial crisis of 2007.
Surviving the recession
To survive, we started by cutting costs
but soon recognised that wouldn’t be
enough; consequently, we decided it
was time to diversify and include lettings
in the suite of services we offered. After
evenings of poring over legislation
concerning rental compliance, tenancy
agreements, best practice for landlords
and deposit protection, we set up our
company client account.
Following this, we produced guidance
handbooks for landlords and
handbooks for tenants. Finally, we
focused on ensuring staff were trained
and provided them with a guide that
took them, step by step, through the
procedure of letting a property.
At first, we offered lettings exclusively
to our vendors who needed to move
but couldn’t afford to sell in the market
at the time. As we came out of the
recession a few years later, however,
we started to offer the service to
our own investment buyers. Today,
Malcolms Lettings contributes between
40 and 50 per cent of our revenue.
Housing: an ever-changing
legislative arena
With 145 regulations covering sales
and lettings, housing is one of the
most highly regulated areas of British
industry, and rightly so. For instance,
the rollout of the government’s new
Fitness for Human Habitation Act
will help to improve the standard of
rented accommodation for tenants
and consequently help estate agents
like ourselves to encourage landlords
to bring their properties into the
Malcolms, Cambourne,
As directors,
we have
always been
proud of the
fact that we
work on the
front line to
offer clients
Client satisfcation is key
We are also not concerned by the
tenant fee ban, as our charges were
only minimal to cover costs. In fact, we
see this as an opportunity to strengthen
relationships with good tenants and gain
extra business from those agents who
are always looking to put up their fees.
In the last two years, the EU’s Fourth
Money Laundering Directive as well as
the rollout of GDPR has meant that we
have spent a lot of money and time
on training both ourselves and staff as
well as registering with the appropriate
bodies. At Malcolms, however, we
view compliance as a demonstration
of professionalism and appreciate the
role it has in the sector. We undertake
anti-money laundering training every six
months and constantly review industry
journals, blogs and webinars to this end.
The rise of property tech and
2018 saw the rise of proptech,
something which we believe will
only help to further streamline the
operations of the housing sector. We
have always embraced new technology
to enhance our service and present
properties in the best possible light.
Our first software system offered
vendors complete transparency,
showing them everything we did
for them. Making sure staff are
experienced, trained and informed –
especially when it comes to technology
– can really aid the sales process; a
bad photograph or a price that’s too
ambitious will just mean that a buyer
swipes past your property. At Malcolms,
we don’t just put the property on the
market; we present it and make sure
that it doesn’t become stale.
The emerging trend of greater
regulation on estate agents is also
something that many people are
talking about. We welcome this new
direction and are currently registered
with Propertymark, the ombudsman,
ICO, HMRC, NCA and The Guild of
Property Professionals, as well as
Malcolm’s membership of the NAEA.
We would hope that one of these
bodies takes on the role of regulator,
offering training and guidance to those
wishing to improve their service as well
as ensuring compliance.
We also forgo the most lucrative
solicitor referral fees in favour of
knowledgeable, approachable and
efficient legal advice for our clients.
We personally provide them with
weekly updates throughout the sales
process to help alleviate the stress of
conveyancers who seem unable to talk
to each other, let alone their clients.
The current move to legislate for
£1,000 non-refundable deposits
from vendors and purchasers will aid
the house-buying process, but more
needs to be done to speed up the
conveyancing process as a whole.
This year, we are delighted to have
been placed in the top four per cent
of estate agents nationally, and to
have been rated “exceptional” for our
performance and customer service in
the Best Estate Agent Guide 2019 by
the Property Academy and their partner
Rightmove. Estate agency is changing,
but at Malcolms, whether you are
selling, buying or renting, we believe
local knowledge and customer service
is at the heart of a stress-free move.
At Malcolms,
we don’t just
put the
property on
the market;
we present it
and make sure
that it doesn’t
become stale
»Is shared ownership or affordable housing really affordable when
housing associations charge such high rents?
»Will the tenant fee ban or building more homes really solve the
problems of the homeless?
»Doesn’t the Help to Buy scheme just increase the cost to the buyer
and the profit to the developer?
»Would first-time buyers find it easier to save for a deposit if they
weren’t paying off a student loan?
»In 2019, shouldn’t we be building more sustainable houses using
environmentally friendly materials and running on renewable
energy rather than just building more houses?

This article was sponsored by Malcolms Estate Agents. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.