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Guest Article: A Q&A with Baljit Arora, Orlando Reid

Why Manchester after running your offices successfully in London?

We chose to set up in Manchester as it is the second largest city in the UK. The capital appreciation projection and high rental yields in Manchester meant that our existing London clients were choosing to invest in Manchester rather than London for their next investment purchase. The population of Manchester also continues to grow and demand for property is at an all-time high, for both buyers and renters.

Manchester is part of your long term growth strategy to build a UK wide network of offices.  Explain your long term growth strategy and where you aim to expand beyond Manchester and London.

Our long term growth strategy is to have several offices in key locations around the UK, specialising in residential property investment and property management. We are starting to see other UK cities such as Liverpool and Birmingham also attract investors. The HS2 is one of the most exciting new transport projects around Europe.  We believe that this will shape the property market in the locations connected by HS2. Orlando Reid’s long term aim would be to take on projects in these areas.

What do you intend to use your North West hub as a base for – eg. development, BTL investment and land acquisition and do you plan to use the London offices are very much focused on residential sales and lettings?

Our Manchester HQ specialises in property investment for buy-to-let landlords who are hoping for a stress-free investment purchase. We act as a one-stop-shop for sourcing the investment, arranging the finance and managing the sale, both before and after completion. Our London offices’ business model is more aligned with the traditional estate agent model, dealing with lettings and re-sales with a big focus on Prop-Tech.

What are the cultural, social, business dynamics in Manchester and how does agency business and client relationships differ from the way things work in London?

In Manchester, we focus on property investment, which means that our clients are generally investors and landlords, rather than first time buyers and movers, as our London clients tend to be. Generally, investors are attracted to objective figures regarding capital growth and rental returns rather than the likeability of the property. At our investment HQ in Manchester, the majority of our properties are sold via computer generated images (CGI’s), virtual walk-throughs and floor-plans, whereas in London, physical viewings are more sought after. Buyers who are looking to move into the property themselves will want to develop more of a personal attachment to the property and the area itself; they will naturally care more about the general “feel” and liveability of the property.

What are you most excited about now you’re in Manchester when it comes to opportunities in your market sector?

Over the past five years, Manchester has become the most highly sought after hub for buy-to-let investment in the whole world. This is due to its high rental yields, capital growth and ever-growing population. Excitingly, the skyline in Manchester continues to evolve and change, as developers rush to meet the demand for prime residential property in the city centre.

How Covid has changed and shaped the way property agents do business?

We believe the introduction of Prop-Tech has been vital for the industry and its progression has been accelerated due to the pandemic. Simple ideas such as E-signing tenancy agreements, virtual tours all save time for potential buyers and tenants and make their journey so much easier! We believe that Prop-Tech is here to stay and that agents still relying on pen and paper will be left behind.

What are your thoughts on the importance of Proptech versus the personal relationship you build with an agent and client?

Although Prop-Tech has contributed to, and shaped, the property industry over the course of the COVID pandemic, simplifying tasks down to the click of a button cannot replace the personal relationship between an agent and a client. Agents must continue to offer a personalised service to their clients. We are an independent company and our experience tells us that our clients prefer to have regular contact with their property manager or sales representative rather than to just receive an automated email containing stats related to their property. In my experience, a combined approach of utilising prop-tech to simplify mundane, transactional tasks in tandem with providing a personalised, client-based service, offers the optimal output in terms of building client relationships and efficiency.