Richard Greener, who set up his own Northampton estate agents more than 25 years ago, recently celebrated 50 years in the property industry.
The now 68-year-old first joined Berry Bros. & Legge aged 18, just four days after he left Wellingborough School.
After the company was sold to Nationwide Building Society in the late 1980s, he was made a partner, and worked in a different role for them for five years, he eventually decided he “missed the thrill of doing deals” and set up Richard Greener Estate Agent, now based in Bridge Street.
He said: “It’s been a blast and so much fun. If you really enjoy doing something, time flies.”
Richard hoped to open a bottle of champagne to celebrate the milestone with his team, but he was so busy he forgot.
The most important thing to Richard is the value his team put in the people they work with, not the properties.
He said: “All properties have the same four walls and a roof, but I’ve never met two identical people living in homes in my life.
“This is a people industry, and I love the buzz of helping them find properties.”
However, over the five decades, Richard has noticed a lot of change in the industry – and believes this stems from legislation change, to a decline in moral values.
“People don’t keep their word now like they used to when I began and attitudes to estate agents have changed,” he said. “There used to be more honour and willingness.”
He also acknowledges the process of buying a house needs modernising, and described it as “archaic and cumbersome”.
This view was solidified when Richard recently spoke to Rightmove. They revealed it takes an average of 151 days from when a house goes on the market to when a sale is completed.
Richard said: “Deals were much quicker before. If everyone was willing to work together back then, why does it take an average of around five months now?
“The conveyancing process is extremely torturous and borrowing is becoming more complex.”
Richard’s wife and son work alongside him, after joining 27 and 15 years ago, and although they love what they do, he admits “the future is always uncertain”.
“We take each day as it comes and try not to look too far ahead,” said Richard. “My primary concern is my son will one day take over – and I want him to have the right approach, clients, and people around him.”
He sees every day as different and loves the fact “you never know where each one will take you” and the new opportunities it will pose.
But, one thing he does know is things are different for people attempting to climb onto the property ladder.
Richard bought his first house when he was 21, but says most first-time buyers are now in their thirties – with some even in their forties.
Looking back on the 50 years, Richard said: “I will never forget the first time I was asked to take to the gavel and sell a property in an auction.”
He rarely gets nervous, but admits he was as he could see his clients and was relieved to do a good job for them.