WHEN letting agent Paul Kingham went into business on his own for the first time, six days into 2014, it was exactly 20 years to the month since he began working in rentals.
His new office is on the ground floor of a building in the Cressex Business Park.
He said: “It would have been unthinkable to have a non-high street office back in the 1990s if you wanted to get on. The internet has completely revolutionised the property industry.
“Over the last few years it has become a fact that we often let properties when, apart from the initial physical viewing of the property, we have not seen the applicants again before they move in. This is because everything, including references and all the financial transactions, is done online.”
He conceded: “The web portals are expensive – in some cases more than the monthly rent of the office – but they say 90 per cent of all searches for property to buy or let start online and therefore the need for hugely expensive offices and shop fronts has been negated.
“We are able to pass some of these high cost savings on to our landlords and tenants. And, being out of town in a business park, we have parking.
“Our ethos is to keep things simple, give professional and personal service and to charge sensible fees at all times.”
The new face in the Geodis Building in Coronation Road, is 46, married with three children and a whippet. He said: “I’ve worked in the property industry one way or another since I left college in 1985.
“My first job in lettings in 1994 was at the Castle Street office of Kings Property Management where I teamed up with Edward Grant and a couple of others.
“Business grew very quickly and a few years later we moved to a double office in Crendon Street. “This was pre-internet but it coincided with the buy-to-let boom.
“Sometimes, on a Saturday, we had a queue of potential landlords waiting for advice. Many of them still own properties today and quite a few use me as their agent. Over the next ten years the business grew exponentially, partly because of the internet.
“After 13 years, I left Grants to live in the Republic of Ireland. I spent two years selling new houses and renting properties owned by the company I worked for in Londonderry.
“Some of those properties were in the worst parts of the city. Doing viewings late on a dark winter’s evening there was unnerving to say the least.
“When the Irish economy started to falter, we moved back to the UK in January 2009. I returned to Grants for a while and then accepted a directorship at Michael Anthony Lettings in Tring.
“I was brought in to get the fledgling lettings business off the ground which I’m pleased to say I managed to do.”
He added: “Some of the people I know in the industry would say you have to have a high street presence.
“All I can say is, while I was in Tring, I let a whole lot of properties in Wycombe.
“The lettings business these days is generated by search engines and my feet. If I sit here at my desk all day, I won’t get anywhere.”
Paul Kingham, Residential Lettings, Geodis Building/CDT, Coronation Road, Cressex