Hannells' huge sales rise sparks hope for revival in Derby's housing market
A DERBY estate agent has reported that the housing market in the city is on the up after reporting 18.4% growth during 2012.
Hannells sold a total of 784 homes last year, a big improvement on 2011 and heading towards the kind of levels the company enjoyed during the housing boom when mortgages were easier to come by.
Surprisingly, given the fact the economy continues to bump along the bottom of the growth graph, August was one of the estate agency's best-ever months in business.
Prior to that, between April and June, 2012, the company managed to shift a total of £22.5 million worth of property.
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Hannells is hoping that the improved results mean that the housing market has turned a corner, that more mortgage money is available for those wishing to get on to the housing ladder and that the people of Derby and its suburbs are more confident in the future.
Managing director Alison Brain said: "It is unlikely to keep improving at the same rate but we're hoping that it will.
"It is partly because homes are being more realistically priced and are more affordable.
"In 2008, the housing market fell off a cliff but since then we have seen four years of continuous growth.
"The market has been really tough over these last few years and we have had to restructure and reorganise the business but all of our staff have been fantastic.
"More than 90% of them have been with us through thick and thin."
Having started out in a small office in Hilton a decade ago, at its peak, Hannells had 12 branches and employed a total of 82 members of staff.
However, that was prior to the credit crunch.
The financial crisis of 2008 caused banks and other mortgage lenders to tighten their belts so money dried up, meaning that first-time buyers struggled to borrow money and vendors had difficultly finding buyers.
Hannells now has five Derby offices with branches in Chellaston, Chaddesden, Littleover, Mickleover and Allestree, the last two being run as franchised operations by former employee Michelle Learner.
The business sold its lettings operation to Countrywide in 2011 in order for it to concentrate on its core estate agency business.
Mrs Brain said: "The people who work in our branches tend to live locally and so know their patch really well.
"They have a good understanding of how to price and sell homes and that is working for us.
"It is really important for us to be part of the communities where we have offices."
The company is currently looking to open another branch and take on more people.