ONE of the best known estate agents in Wycombe is quitting the job “to explore new and exciting ventures”.

Next Wednesday will be the last day at the office for JNP’s 43-year-old managing director Stephen Grace.

Sources say his successor was appointed this week but only the directors know who it is. The staff are likely to be told next week.

Steve has been selling houses in the Wycombe area for the best part of his 26-year career. He began as a junior in 1993 “mailing out sales details to prospective buyers” when today’s JNP agency originally founded in 1976 by Stuart Newman was owned by Halifax Property Services.

Steve worked for the estate agency arm of the bank for five years.

After graduating as a junior in Wycombe, his first step up the ladder was as a negotiator at the Hazlemere branch, then he became a valuer at the Aylesbury office before being appointed sales manager at the office in Crendon Street, Wycombe.

He joined the Jenkins Newman Partnership in 1998. To date he has worked for the company for 20 years and nine months.

He first became a director in 2001 and got the top job in 2009.

In his management role he was instrumental in setting up specialist departments for lettings and new homes as expansionary moves for the business which has been a market leader for house sales in Bucks and the adjoining counties since the 1980s’ property boom.

Today the agency is part of LSL Property Services. JNP has a network of six offices in Bucks and two branches of Fine & Country for country house sales.

Announcing his decision to leave in a message to the staff the MD says: “After 21 years working for the JNP Partnership with ten of those years as managing director, I have decided it is the right time to explore new and exciting ventures. I leave behind a great company both under LSL and the old directors.

“I will be spending a small bit of time to recharge my batteries with Mrs G and the kids and then on to the next venture whatever that may be.”

Thanking “everyone who has been part of my amazing journey from office junior to MD” he says “I have worked with many colleagues over that time, some still work with me and some have moved on and some I can call good friends.”

Asked by the Bucks Free Press how long it has been since he made the decision to bow out, he said: “My wife Katie was ill last year. She’s fine now, she’s had the all clear but that’s when we started to re-evaluate our priorities.

“We talked about it again at the beginning of this year. We finally decided six weeks ago to take the plunge.”

He says they have no plans to leave the area.

They won’t be selling their house in Tylers Green. With Steve giving up work next week he and Katie are looking forward to spending the whole of the school holidays with their three children – daughters Ava, 13 and a half and seven year old Elisabeth and son Evan, 11. In September, Elisabeth will be moving up to Tylers Green Middle School as planned and Evan will be joining Ava at Holmer Green School.

Having had the holidays to think about the future direction of his working life, Steve says he’s pretty sure he’ll stay in the industry.