Northamptonshire estate agents share their highs and lows as they celebrate their 30 year anniversary
The year of 1991 saw the publishing of the first ever World Wide Web page, the collapse of the Soviet Union and, of course, the launch of Richard James Estate Agents
A Northamptonshire based estate agent is celebrating their 30th anniversary next week.
Richard James Estate Agents first opened their doors on Friday, September 13 in 1991; unlucky for some, the opening day was a success for founders, Richard Fowler and James Rota, who have both overseen the growth of the business over the last three decades.
The well-known local estate agents now have offices in Wellingborough, Irthlingborough and Rushden along with a large lettings and property management department covering a large part of East Northamptonshire.
Co-founder at Richard James Estate Agents, Richard Fowler, said: "The main thing is the quality of the staff, the long hours and the honesty in terms of us being completely frank and honest with our customers are the big reasons we have got to where we are because we have built a huge reputation and, you know, all of our reviews - we have got nearly 500 of them and only 26 of them are not five-star rated and that speaks volumes in terms of what people think about what we do.
"We've sold houses for people and then we have sold their daughter's son's houses and then indeed them again so the grandchildren's houses. We have done three generations of business with people. There are some houses we have had on more than five times where they just keep coming back to us so it's really good that people come back to us and they trust us."
Richard and James set up their first office in Sheep Street in Wellingborough when they were in their early twenties and, just one year later in September 1992, they were faced with a difficult challenge. Mortgage interest rates soared to 15 per cent and, to add some perspective, mortgage interest rates today sit at around one per cent; although house prices back then were significantly cheaper, the mortgage interest rates were "colossal", according to Richard.
The local estate agent, which was only a small business at that time, persevered and eventually opened a second office in Irthlingborough in February 1999 before opening a third office in Rushden in 2015.
However, the biggest storm was yet to come.
Richard, looking back at the toughest challenge Richard James Estate Agents has faced, said: "In 2008, when the banks imploded and pretty much nearly went bust, there wasn't any mortgage money on the market for almost a year That was a tough period and, at that point, we had to downscale the business quite considerably. We were down to literally skeleton staff just to keep the offices open because businesses simply could not afford to employ people.
"We had to make a lot of good quality staff redundant and then start again almost. So we had to rebuild the staff and recruit not straight away but it took us years to get back on our feet like most estate agents."
The journey has been a roller coaster ride for Richard James Estate Agents but the business navigated their way through the fluctuating interest rates and disastrous credit crunch and now have 27 members of staff since first opening with just the two founders in 1991.
Their success has been nationally recognised through numerous industry awards including Relocation Agent Network's Agent of the Year award twice - an accolade, which led to trips to Arizona and Las Vegas to represent UK estate agents.
Richard told the Chronicle & Echo that his biggest highlight was going to the famous MGM Grand in Las Vegas after winning Agent of the Year in 2018. He said: " I personally had to a speech at the MGM Grand in a room full of people, which is quite daunting but quite an honour in its own right to be in such an iconic hotel on the Las Vegas strip doing a speech about Richard James and UK estate agents to a room of around 800 or 900 delegates in the USA.
"When James and myself set up the business back in 1991, we never would have believed we would get to where we are and be at the MGM grand in Las Vegas from Wellingborough!"
To celebrate their 30 year milestone, the staff at Richard James Estate Agents will all be having a party at a function hall in Northampton on Sunday, September 12.
Find out more about Richard James Estate Agents by visiting their website at https://www.richardjames.net/.