Ben Pridden recently joined Hewetson & Johnson to set up our estate agency business in North Yorkshire. With over 25 years’ experience in property sales, Ben’s knowledge of the market is impressive. We caught up with Ben to learn more about his background, his insights and his vision for Hewetson & Johnson estate agents.
How is your new role at Hewetson & Johnson going, Ben?
As I sit here at my desk overlooking the gardens at Newburgh Priory, the sun is shining and I’m looking at some photographs of a beautiful house we are launching shortly. So it’s safe to say that today is a good day! Things are moving forwards nicely.
How have you found the transition to an independent firm?
After working for a national firm of estate agents for 16 years, starting Hewetson & Johnson’s estate agency business was a big shift. However, it is an opportunity that I relish. My new position allows me to do things my way, really concentrating on my clients, without the constraints a larger business inevitably has. I am thrilled with the feedback I am getting from clients, whose houses I will be launching in the next few weeks.
What are your plans for Hewetson & Johnson estate agents in the coming year?
Whilst I am getting used to this lovely view, we will announce the date of a move to our permanent office shortly, which is exciting. Meanwhile, it may surprise people to hear that there is a terrific pool of motivated buyers for the best houses. This is keeping me busy, as I am quietly matching their requirements to houses and owners I know. Within days of arriving at my new desk, an old client approached me, keen to identify his next home. Because of my local knowledge, I found the perfect home, “off market”, in the ideal village, within two weeks. There is no substitute for a good address book and local knowledge.
Is the market going to lose value as a result of the Covid 19 epidemic?
In sum, the short answer is ‘yes’. Whether we see that adjustment this year or the beginning of 2021, I don’t think any fall will be akin to the last financial crisis. This is thanks to the low interest rates and the relatively subdued growth here in Yorkshire prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Like many, I believe recovery will follow relatively quickly. If you take a 5-year view, then we may see as much as a 21% lift in values, which is more than five times that likely to be seen in London*. I must add, the ‘worst case’ school of thought, assuming a bad Brexit deal followed by resurgence of Covid-19, presents some sobering predictions. My advice is to consider a sale now while there is still demand and prices seem steady.
What have you learned in your time as an estate agent?
The best advice I ever received was from my first boss, Rebecca Read, who instilled in me from the outset to put your client first. Specifically, she taught me to never forget that everything we do must be in their best interest – after all they pay the bills. On a lighter note, she also told me to always ring the doorbell before a viewing. This was truly good advice in order to avoid embarrassing encounters. I did forget to knock once, and can tell you I never did again!
Which is your favourite village here in North Yorkshire?
I was at school at Ampleforth and live near Helmsley, so I know the area well. While narrowing my favourites down to one spot is difficult, I have a real affinity with Hovingham, where my parents live. Hovingham is an estate village owned by the Worsley family, in the Howardian Hills. I love the Worsley Arms, and have gone there for 35 years, as both man and boy. The village also has a well-stocked shop.
Where would you go for a Yorkshire Staycation?
I would definitely visit the North York Moors. In fact, I am heading there with my family in August to camp with some friends. I love that you can be in the back of beyond, enjoying all the solitude it has to offer, and when you fancy a change of scene, the coast is never far away. Andrew Pern’s restaurant in Whitby, The Star on the Harbour, is a fantastic place to eat.
Ben Pridden is Director of the Hewetson & Johnson estate agency business and can help you sell or buy your property. Learn more about the properties we are currently marketing, and the areas in which we have expertise. To discuss how Ben can help with your needs, please don’t hesitate to call him on 01347 868308 or email firstname.lastname@example.org