Ian is a Partner at DM Hall and has run our Hamilton commercial department since 1999.
You have been at DM Hall for 20 years. Time flies when you are having fun! Talk us through the early years at DM Hall and how things have since changed?
In the early years I was the sole commercial presence out with Glasgow in the west. I was both a valuer and an agent in those days. The valuation business expanded fairly quickly and that allowed the department in Hamilton to expand by us deploying an agent. It has continued to grow since and in 2012 we effectively merged 2 west of Scotland teams into 1 but maintained the team in Hamilton.
The firm as a whole has changed a lot in the last 20 years and the commercial department has grown significantly both in staff numbers and also with our status in the market which we work very hard to maintain.
You have predominately been based in Hamilton during this time covering Lanarkshire and Ayrshire – how has the commercial landscape changed during this period?
The commercial markets in the provincial towns have in my time always been busy. In Lanarkshire with the decline of the heavy industries this lead to development of more modern estates and the county continues to be very prominent in this sector. The recession hit all sectors to a point however the lasting damage in a number of provincial towns has been in High Street retail. There are towns in both Lanarkshire and Ayrshire where values have more than halved and areas where market conditions are very challenging. The converse is that some of the smaller more affluent towns are doing very well but these tend not to be burdened with high rent and rates costs.
Do you have one particular highlight that sticks out during your DM Hall career?
From a personal perspective being voted into the partnership was a very proud moment for me. The general highlights are that I am always amazed by the variety of work we get involved in on a day to day and hour by hour basis. My days regularly involve inspecting large, very valuable properties followed in the next inspection by the polar opposite. I always take the view though that a surveyor can learn as much from bad properties as you can from good ones. I am also now an APC assessor for the RICS and delighted to say some of the graduates/trainees I have helped train are now qualified – a particular achievement for the candidates as by a few peoples admission I am not the world’s best teacher!
What is your funniest moment at DM Hall?
There have been a few! I suspect the staff in the office would say the day I got barricaded and threatened in a shop by the local ‘neds’ and had to get rescued by the police – although to be honest the humour was lost on me that day! I have also had my 15 minutes of fame after valuing a property in Homes Under the Hammer! (photo above!)
What is the best bit of advice you have ever received?
Never judge a book by its cover. We have all prejudged properties before we’ve visited them and had to rethink after. Some of the most astute business men and women I have encountered I have never seen in a suit!
Plans for the future?
I think there will be a few changes in DM Hall in the next few years and glad to say I am no longer the youngest partner in the firm at 47! Hopefully this trend will continue. Our plans for Hamilton in the near future are that the valuation presence will continue and the agency offering will be strengthened. We have also recently renewed the lease here and now have approval to carry out an extensive refurb which will significantly improve the working environment for us all.