Steve Walker of Collinson Hall 28 Jul 2022
Steve Walker of Collinson Hall
With over 30 years’ experience in estate agency, it’s fair to say Steve Walker, Managing Director of Collinson Hall knows a thing or two about the St Albans property market! We shone the spotlight on him to find out more about his thriving business, as well as life as a St Albans resident.
Collinson Hall is St Albans through and through, originating in our great city – what do you like about living/working here?
I am fortunate to be able to live and work in the City Centre. Being able to walk to work through our lovely old streets, enjoy the cinema, pubs and restaurants, walk around the Cathedral and parks and head out into the Countryside that surrounds us, is fantastic and all within 30mins of Central London for when work or a bit of extra culture beckon. It is a great combination.
What part of the business do you work in?
My title is Managing Director and whilst I oversee the whole business, we have great Directors and Managers who look after their own departments and areas of focus – be it Sales, Lettings, Property Management, Block Management or Commercial. I also take the lead with Land & New Homes and our overall marketing strategy.
The Sunday Times recently featured St Albans in its Best Places to Live 2022 guide in the Southeast – what tips would you give someone looking to buy or rent here?
Similar but not identical advice. If you are renting or buying don’t rely on the online portals alone. Get in touch with us. You might hear about a property before it is broadcast across the internet.
If you are looking to buy, put yourself in the best position possible. Explore funding options that might allow you to purchase without selling, and if that is not an option find a buyer. People are often happy to wait if it is communicated at the outset.
What do you like best about your job?
I have had the pleasure to work on some very rewarding development projects both in St Albans and further afield. I enjoy the (30yr) challenge of the constant drive to find a better way to best serve our clients in all our fields of operation. Being part of a successful team and witnessing the development of the people that work here does, however, have a special appeal and is for me the best thing about my job.
The last year has been a little crazy in the property market, have you ever seen anything like it?
Yes – of course. The market is dictated by demand and supply. Every weekend there is an article in one of the papers predicting doom for the property market. The reality is that the basic metrics have remained strong with low interest rates, high levels of employment and high demand, which keeps prices strong. The doom mongers are putting people off from coming to the market which ironically will only maintain the imbalance of demand and supply. If more people put their houses onto the market, it would redress the balance which would not be a bad thing at all.
To stay ahead of the rest, I hear you have adopted some incredible innovative technology, tell me more?
We were looking at ways of using new technology to showcase a property’s location but had concerns about privacy with drones and that ultimately whilst useful it doesn’t tell you much about the area. We have found a way to use Google Earth to show an incredible fly-by view of a property and to highlight particular features in the video. As far as we know no-one else is doing this in this country. This will show you what I mean: https://vimeo.com/724428349
St Albans has a strong community spirit; how do Collinson Hall get involved?
We are pleased to support our local community and will regularly sponsor local events such as Marlborough Academy’s M Festival when we can. We are also a corporate sponsor of Rennie Grove and I was pleased to be involved with organising last year’s incredibly successful Isle of Wight bike ride. We also support many other local events, but in truth they are not done for publicity, so I won’t list them, but we are always pleased to be able to offer our support.
You are a forward-thinking company, what plans do you have for the future?
Never stop evolving. The industry has transformed over my time with Collinson Hall and I have no doubt it will continue to do so. We will continue to push for better ways to communicate with our clients, to market our services and our clients’ properties. To be more efficient in what we do to provide an excellent service at a fair price. There will be changes, I just don’t know what it will look like yet.
For people visiting St Albans, what would be your three top tips for them to enjoy the best of the city?
First bring your walking shoes – explore the city on foot. Find the little alleyways, gardens, parks and of course the Cathedral. Next, bring an appetite as we have some fabulous restaurants. Enjoy them. My third tip would be to visit the Odyssey Cinema in London Road or a theatre, we have plenty of them, or a museum or gallery as we have a few of those too.
What are your predictions for the next year in the property market?
As I mentioned earlier if the key metrics of high levels of employment and relatively low-interest rates remain then I see no reason for the market conditions to change. Should uncertainty be introduced or there is the threat of major tax changes then there will be a pause. But St Albans remains a great place to live and demand will quickly return.
There is nothing certain of concern on the horizon so it looks like things will continue as they are.