GOC Estate Agents, based in South Belfast, is celebrating twenty five years in business as the housing market shows strong signs of growth.
The firm started life in Stranmillis by Gerry O’Connor with just two members of staff in 1994, the same year the ceasefires were announced and when the average house price in Northern Ireland was just £38,410.
The agency is now run by Gerry, his wife Kirby alongside a team of experienced agents and have expanded to offer a lettings and management service and a dedicated land and new homes department to meet clients’ growing needs. The business increased staff numbers by a third last year as the most recent stats show Northern Ireland house prices were the strongest performing across the UK during 2017 increasing 5.8% to an average of £139,599.
Gerry O’Connor said, ‘In many ways 1994 feels like yesterday, back then we had photographs glued to the brochures and stored all our contacts in book, not an iPhone! While technology has dramatically changed, the business itself has also developed, with us now having professional photographers, property videos, online property portals and social media. Customer service is still very important to us and being contactable & offering accompanied viewings 7 days a week and out of hours is an important part of our unique experience’.
So much has changed in 25 years. Back then interest rates were a lot higher at 6.125%, petrol prices were 48.9p per litre and a pint of milk and a loaf of bread were 35p and 50p respectively. Friends started on TV, Harry Styles and Justin Bieber were born, 22m people watched the first UK National Lottery draw and Yahoo and Amazon were founded.
House prices today are lower than they were at their height of the property boom ten years ago, however in 2018 there were nearly 5,000 new dwellings registered.
Gerry continued, ‘We’ve worked diligently through the crash in the mid-2000s to remain even stronger. Property is a competitive industry with this milestone representing a real sense of achievement in demonstrating our experience and expertise in the sector. We are seeing a renewed confidence with clients looking to purchase and developers once again starting to build new developments. Rents are rising, and while still affordable, more and more are buying and looking to co-ownership to purchase’.