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London house prices are a balloon, not a bubble, says property guru Michael Bruce



London house prices are a balloon, not a bubble, says property guru
Purple Brick’s CEO Michael Bruce

This week’s property spotlight falls on Michael Bruce, CEO of estate agency

My first buy was… A little place out in the countryside that we named Nutkin Cottage after the squirrels that greeted us when we first visited. It was a property in need of a lot of modernisation and I spent night after night working on it. I was in the third year of university at the time and my first daughter Sophie was on the way so not a lot of spare cash for expert help.

I currently own… A house that is a pleasure to come home to. It has lots of wildlife around and plenty of space to have lots of fun with my 23 month old daughter Eva-Rose.

The best thing about my home is… It feels like home. It is a social house where family and friends can come and have a good time, it depicts mine and my wife Isabel’s personality perfectly.

We are lucky to have a large garden and our house has lots of big windows that allow us to enjoy the garden and wildlife even when we aren’t outside.

I got into property… Initially it was as a result of a request (as a young lawyer) to assist a corporate estate agent with a legal issue. I got a real insight into the industry, how it worked, what problems they were encountering, what issues and complaints they were receiving and how they were being dealt with.

I later used these skills and insight as the legal advisor to a large independent estate agency chain. When estate agents started to control the conveyancing market (as they still do today), I did not want to have lunches on a regular basis to remain their flavour of the month to ensure we retained the flow of work for our law firm. So my brother, Kenny Bruce, who has been in the estate agency industry for over 20 years, and I decided to buy the large independent estate agency chain where I was the legal advisor.

We were then able to concentrate entirely on the customer and I have been in the industry ever since.

I want to see property prices… Become affordable for as many people as possible. The London property market is no longer a ‘bubble’ – it has become a balloon that has risen above the rest of the UK.

Just how big is the balloon going to become? Every month it sweeps up more and more regions, leaving fewer people able to afford the rising prices.

The solution to London’s housing crisis is… With average values being twice the rest of the country and the definition of London getting wider and wider we need to release some of the pressure, draw the balloon back towards the heart of London and increase the housing stock for the rest of us so we have choices which will no doubt ease the price competition that exists in a market that has insufficient number of properties for sale.

My top tip for adding value to your home is… Space, space, space. Buyers love it and today they need it. Buy cheaper if possible and extend.

The most I’ve spent on something for my home is… Apart from some of our furniture I think my pool table and quiz game. Believe it or not they help me unwind when I occasionally stop, along with a glass of wine or two.

My biggest missed opportunity was… Not recognising sooner the enormous changes that could be made to the selling, letting and buying process from a customer experience perspective by having a blend of first class people and the latest technological advances to make everything instant and convenient.

First-time buyers trying to get on London’s property ladder should… Take a longer term view of their ideal home. Look at the current London balloon (not bubble), establish where the perimeter is and buy just on the edge before the balloon engulfs that area. Buy something that needs some work and take your time doing it up.

If I was mayor for a day I would… Open up more areas to development for housing so that everyone has a fair chance to live in and around their capital city.

What keeps me awake at night is… Apart from my daughter Eva-Rose I have this passion to capture what I call “the hearts and minds” of people looking to sell, let and buy a home. Whilst we have done a lot to hopefully help us achieve that objective I am constantly looking to find ways of adding to the experience.

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