With many agents enjoying a buoyant year so far in the commercial property market, has there ever been a better time to start your own agency? This is exactly what the Managing Director of Manchester based agency Fraser Commercial, Simon Fraser MRICS, did in July.
So how have things been going, three months on from the launch of his first ever company: “Really good” says Simon, “Far better than I expected. I didn’t think I would make any money for the first few months, but it’s been very buoyant and we have surprised ourselves at the number of deals we have currently in solicitors hands.”
Although starting your own company can be a daunting experience, for Simon, a chartered surveyor with 12 years of experience, the learning curve has been worth it and everything has been running rather smoothly so far.
“People have been very loyal. Clients have found me through LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media, and other people have phoned me out of the blue and said ‘Do you want to rent or sell this for me?’ It’s been very nice!”
Earlier this year several agents who subscribe with NovaLoca commented on the improving state of the market and this appears to be something that Simon has experienced since the launch of Fraser Commercial. But what does Simon attribute that to?
“The finance market has unlocked and it seems that a lot of the larger buildings in Manchester are changing hands. The residential market improved over the last 18 months and the commercial property market very seems to be following the pattern and confidence in the market has been steadily improving.”
Dealing mainly with the secondary Manchester property market, Simon has seen some sectors performing well so far and this can be put down to an overall improvement in the UK’s economic outlook.
“The secondary office market does seem to be coming back and properties that I wouldn’t have been able to let two years ago are now seeing a good turnover of stock. Secondary industrial and retail units at the right price always seem to let or sell however the phone seems very busy and there is a good level of demand for most units all of sudden.”
However, while these secondary units on the fringe of Manchester city centre seem to be performing well, Simon explains that there are still units that are proving difficult to shift, even in the ever improving market.
“Where we do struggle, is where you get a secondary unit, with a high rateable value, such as retail in central Altrincham, the business rates are so high and the rents have had to come down so much that they are no longer in line with each other and this is a huge draw back for potential occupiers.”
One of the benefits of launching a new company is the opportunity to tailor a business to meet the needs of the present time. With a sleek and modern website and active social media accounts, Fraser Commercial has certainly embraced social media as a key business tool of 2014.
“It’s been a steep learning curve for me. The website has to work well on a smartphone, a tablet and on a computer screen. It needs to react to what you are looking at the website on and with social media and mail shots; it’s very much about getting the property in front of the right person.”
With the online world however, social media is only half the battle, with Simon recognising the importance of ensuring a website is Google friendly: “If you’ve got your site set up in the correct way, with the correct search terms, with the correct links and the correct SEO terms you will do well. Google is very much the marketing key at the moment.”
This modern and forward thinking approach certainly seems to have pointed Fraser Commercial in the right direction so far and after such positive beginnings, Simon just hopes things continue in the same way in the future.
“I seem to be getting a steady feed of offices, industrial units and secondary retail stock to let. The market is improving and it seems to remain steady, if the business carries on as it has been doing, I will be a very happy man!”