The property industry is more competitive than ever. But bigger isn’t always better. Chris Jones, founding director of Warnerheath, reflects on the power of small business – and his recent nomination for Property Adviser of the Year at the Spear’s Awards 2023.
Congratulations for being nominated for the Spear’s 2023 Awards. What does it mean to have been nominated?
I am extremely thrilled and honoured to be nominated by Spears; a directory I respect hugely and a go-to for so many HNW clients and their advisers.
The recognition is particularly exciting for me as I represented the only small business in the final, whilst lining up against some of the biggest and best people in the business. I’ll take that as a quiet ‘win’ for me and the small business community – and it serves as great validation for the all hard work that I put in behind the scenes.
What do you think distinguishes the approach you take to your work at Warnerheath?
Communication, advice and an absolute commitment to client work. I know and hugely value the importance of working as a team, both with the client but also their team of advisors involved in any property work. Being able to adapt to suit different personalities and characters from all ‘walks of life’ is definitely one of my USP’s.
I am ceaselessly available, very agile and have the ability to move at great pace. I am fortunate to know and have some very impressive partners in the industry and when working together, in my opinion, we are hard to better.
Communication is key. Clients are busier than ever, and message sent, needs to be message received.
What makes you most proud of your career?
There isn’t a single event that I would choose, just being asked to work for, and with, so many amazing clients, lawyers, and partners. It’s been, and continues to be, humbling. I cherish the opportunity to assist and navigate clients through the property market and I have gained some extraordinary professional relationships en route, who are an absolute privilege to work alongside. Delivering great results relies on a great team – and positive outcomes is what brings the clients in.
What forces and trends do you think are shaping your industry right now, and how do you think it will change in the future?
The cost of transacting is right up there. Clients are buying property much more for the long term, since SDLT was changed in 2014. You can see that sales volumes have dropped approx. 35% and in some areas, more. Less market churn, reduced sales and fewer properties on the market. This doesn’t look like it is changing…
There are a lot more small businesses in the market and lots more buying agents. Some hybrids, some buying and selling, some just do one or the other.
It is healthy, I think. Good consistent service and advice wherever it comes from shouldn’t ever be discounted due to the size of the business.
Buying agents are now very much ‘the norm’ and operate across most price bands. It’s so good to see. Why shouldn’t they, and why has it taken so long for it to become common practice. Assisting buyers through the search and purchase process is vitally important – being there to support, advise, and ‘hand hold’ so that a buyer’s interests are well and truly looked after, is vitally important to me and most definitely levels the playing field. It’s excellent that so many people are instructing buying agents and I genuinely see this continuing.
What do you think draws HNW clients to Warnerheath?
Discretion and trust. A single straightforward point of contact is very appealing as well – and with someone who is responsive and can react and advise promptly. Working with different time zones and cultures is something I really enjoy.
I believe in patience and discipline as an MO. Clients are busy and circumstances change and whilst they don’t need you all the time, they like to know you are always there.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Regularly check in against your purpose. Despite one’s best intentions, your clarity and focus can get lost amidst the daily operations. I review regularly where I am against my work and plans, so that I can quickly adapt to changing client or company demands whilst staying focused on the overall goal.
Business life is super busy and demanding – and for me, it’s vital to retain focus and checking in on your business.
What would you personally hope to achieve in the future – for yourself or Warnerheath?
To continue learning and adapting swiftly to changing market forces and client requirements. I have enjoyed some incredible feedback from clients but I never ‘bask in the glory’; instead, I just look to consolidate. I have a natural and relentless commitment to my work and look forward to building on this to the benefit of my clients and professional colleagues.
The emotional return on owning a home/property is as strong as ever and I hope this never changes – and I’m committed to making the property search and acquisition process a more enjoyable experience with me, than without me.
For more information, visit warnerheath.com