by Mike Rix, of Savills in Norwich
I started my career with the local firm of Chartered Surveyors & Estate Agents, Alan Ebbage and Partners back in 1979, as a trainee surveyor with the full intention of completing a correspondence course whilst working full time. I had been there just a few months which was long enough to realise that it was in selling houses which gave me the most pleasure . After about a year I was promoted to run the New Homes Department which meant I completely forgot about my correspondence course and started to earn money!
I loved Norwich and became fascinated in our new developments which in those days were the final phase of the Friars Quay development in the city centre, the beginings of the Bowthorpe (Clover Hill) and Eaton (Eaton Gardens) developments, working with developers such as Norfolk Garden Estates, Barratts and the now, well known local company, Hibbet and Key. In the early 1980’s I moved to our Wroxham Office and whilst there Ebbages (as we were known locally) were taken over by Charles Hawkins, under the banner of Black Horse Agencies. In 1983 I opened a new office in Great Yarmouth with Charles and Julie Bycroft, names well known in the property world, especially in the Great Yarmouth area, and decided it was time to look for my first home.
Although it was clear that I would be likely to move around the county further, if I were to move on in my career, I never had any intentions to leave my beloved Norfolk, especially Norwich and as Norwich is pretty much in the centre of the county I decided that this is where I wanted to live and be prepared to commute.
This was now the mid 1980’s, a boom time and many developers were rapidly expanding, especially new flats and town houses around the city. Our Norwich and Diss offices were agents for Derek Ingram Homes who were developing an assortment of properties, including some new flats along Hall Road, known as Ingram Court. I was fortunate to be told by Alan Churchyard, who was running our Norwich Office of this development early on and managed to secure one of their one bedroom ground floor flats.
I was ecstatic, thinking I had found shangri-la!! It was a very modest, but in those days seen as a “well appointed” property to own and with all the latest mod cons, including a Champagne coloured Bathroom suite – what luxury!! I chose a ground floor flat, as I liked the idea of having patio doors leading straight out of my sitting room onto a very small piece of grass where I could sit in the summer and park my car on the parking bay right in front of my property. I understand the development is considered “sought after” to this day and whenever I have driven past, it always looks well managed and my flat still has it’s Red Door!
It was a very daunting decision to commit myself to a mortgage, still in my early 20’s with a very small deposit and a struggle to meet the payments and set up home. This was a time when one had to still go to see your building society manager and prove to him/her that you were a good, safe bet! However, markets were very strong at that time and I soon started to earn more money and advance in my career and never looked back. These days, more than ever, it is wise to start to save as large a deposit as possible to get the best mortgage deals available, but I would always advise to buy as soon as you can.