Winkworth Devizes is celebrating its 10th birthday this year as part of the leading estate agents' nationwide network of over 100 franchised offices.
The Winkworth office, in the historic Wiltshire market town, was launched in 2011 by former Household Cavalry officer, farmer and businessman Simon Jacobs, his fellow franchisee and wife, Lisa Jacobs, and colleague Claire Markwell.
Simon was working for a high street agent in Marlborough at the turn of the decade when he decided it was time to make the move and launch his own business.
He says: “I was feeling rather glum in January 2011 when I spotted an ad in the Negotiator for Winkworth. They were expanding into Newbury and Bath and I thought this was an ideal opportunity as Devizes would make a good strategic location for a new office. I met up with Winkworth, was really impressed and signed up the following week.
“In June 2011, we moved into the premises of a former wedding shop, which had been a Dreweatt Neate estate agents office for many years. We completed on the sale of our home to free up capital and opened the office in the same week, with just three instructions! Claire Markwell joined us, which meant we had a really strong team to kickstart the business.
“The country was just emerging from a long recession and the economy was looking up so we made good steady progress in building the business. Then, along came Brexit, which dealt a major blow to the property market by causing so much uncertainty - which continued for a long time. 2017 and 2018 were very tough years for us. Then Brexit was resolved, the 2019 election result was decisive and we had a storming start to 2020 as confidence returned to the market. The pandemic then took hold and, as a result, there has been an exodus from London and other cities to places such as Devizes and Marlborough, with people working from home. We have had our best two years in business. 2020 was always going to be a good year, with so much pent-up demand. We started 2021 with a record pipeline and have already achieved the same level of business in seven months, as we had delivered for the entire financial year in 2020.
“We can see next year continuing with a strong pipeline of business. Interest rates remain historically low, which is encouraging people to move.”
In 2017 Lisa took her ARLA qualification exams and launched the lettings offering, which has grown organically into a very successful division for Winkworth Devizes over the past few years, as people have sold up and moved into a rental property to test drive a new lifestyle or wait until the right house is on the market. In 2014, Winkworth Marlborough was launched by Simon and Lisa and Kim, Annabel and Susan now run the office over there with increasing success, from our newly relocated office at 97 High Street.
Simon has some top tips for agents contemplating the move to set up on their own.
He says: “Devizes was a cold start, in a town of very established local agents and it was tough trying to break in. I became very involved in local politics in 2013, and was elected to Wiltshire Council and became really involved in local issues, while living and working in the town. This has made a huge difference to the success of the business.
“We are so delighted that we chose to join Winkworth, an absolutely great partner through the years of political and economic uncertainty, and such positive support across all areas of the business at all times.”
If you would like to find out more about becoming a Winkworth franchisee, contact our new franchising team today.