We catch up with Rob Gamon, Aspire Residential’s co-founder and Lettings and Management Director to find out how things are going one year into the new venture.
Why did you set up Aspire Residential?
Co-founding Aspire with Mike was a big decision. I had wanted to run my own business for a long time, but had never taken the “plunge” to give it a go. Having worked for a number of corporate and larger agencies for many years, I just felt that they had lost the focus on customer service and the provision of quality property management. Mike and I thought the same about what an estate agency should do, which is to provide exceptional outcomes for our clients through a combination of technical expertise and an unwavering commitment to customer service.
So, a year in, how is it all going?
In fairness, it has certainly been a challenging year. Setting up the Lettings and Management division of Aspire was straightforward, as I have done it many times before. However, running my own business has certainly required a steep learning curve. Managing branding, marketing, legal, financial matters etc is not something I have had to deal with in the past. It has been a challenge, but I have learnt a lot over the last year. It has been exciting.
How does the letting and management landscape look right now?
Without doubt, it’s a challenging time for landlords. Legislation is changing frequently and placing further obligations on landlords and their agents. Changes to tax rules are also negatively impacting the returns that landlords can earn. On top of this, the economic environment has also been challenging with Brexit constantly in the news. It feels like we have been in the “perfect storm”. Notwithstanding all of this, residential property still represents an attractive investment class. Income yields of 5% can still be achieved and long-term capital gains are also still attractive.
What does the future look like for property investment?
As noted above, income yields and capital gains are still attractive. But, for landlords to remain confident and for new landlords to come into the market, we need a period of relative stability in terms of government and taxation policy for the Private Rental Sector.
Aspire has a solid set of values, which is the most important to you?
Starting a business from scratch meant that we could establish and build on an ethos and set of values from day one. The concepts of service, expertise and accountability are all very important to who we are as a brand. To provide exceptional outcomes for our clients we need to deliver on all three of these values.
At Aspire, the concept of “community” is also very important. The essence of the brand is that we actually “care” about what we do and how we do it, and that extends not only to our clients, but to the wider community as well. We want to contribute to the local area as evidenced by our sponsorship of Worthing Football Club. We also want to be socially responsible and support charitable organisations and to that extent our recent bike ride in support of the Royal British Legion was a huge success as is our ongoing association with Foodbank. Our actions in support of the community are part of who we are as a brand and are also very important to me individually as well.
Why should landlords choose Aspire Residential?
In general, landlords are trying to achieve three specific things. Firstly, to maximise their investment, secondly, to manage risk and thirdly, to minimise the “hassle” that can be involved in renting out property. To achieve these objectives, landlords need to have an agent that is not only technically proficient, but one that has a laser focus on customer service.
At Aspire, as a start up, our team was handpicked to ensure that we can work with landlord clients to provide great service and help them achieve their investment goals. When a landlord works with our team, the benefit from a wealth of experience which is backed with accreditation and memberships of ARLA propertymark, the Deposit Protection Scheme, the Property Redress Scheme, Client Money Protection and membership of the Information Commissioners officer. Our clients know that they are in good hands.
You’ve done lettings and management for a long time, what keeps you going?
I have been doing this for twenty years and can honestly say there is never a dull day. The work is so varied and one minute you can be discussing investment returns with a landlord and the next minute how to fix a broken shower with a plumber! The considerable volume of legal and tax changes impacting rental property also means that you have constantly got to be on top of your game. Finally, becoming a business owner has opened up a host of new challenges for me.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a landlord?
Do your homework before committing, as investing in property should be a long-term game plan. Select your investment property carefully and select your tenant carefully. Once you have found a great tenant, do everything you can to retain them, as having a long-term stable tenant who looks after your property is without doubt, the best way to achieve your investment and risk management goals.
So, what’s next for Aspire Residential?
The next couple of years are all about continuing to establish ourselves in the Worthing and Goring area through the provision of exceptional service. It takes a long time to build a brand, especially when you are trying to build it based on reputation. We have had some phenomenal success in the first twelve months, but we have some hard work to do to get to the point where Aspire Residential is considered the number one agency in the local area.
And what about in your spare time?
Having started my own business, I have forgotten what having “spare time” actually means. But most of my time away from Aspire is spent with my family including coaching my son’s football teams and baking with my daughter. I enjoy watching football and to that extent, our sponsorship of Worthing football club has its benefits!.
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