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Nicola McManus

Nicola McManus on the key to Property Prosperity

By Nicola McManus

Managing Director at Marnic Real Estate Ltd.

Personal experience in buying and selling property for over 20 years is both the driver and the differentiator for Nicola McManus’ estate agency business Marnic Real Estate.

Having moved to the south coast from Scotland 25 years ago, Nicola and her partner have been in the property market for over two decades. Initially buying and selling their own properties and acquiring a portfolio of serviced accommodation properties in the UK and overseas, whilst simultaneously working in the corporate world for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Becoming disillusioned with many estate agents lacking property knowledge and initiative in selling properties, Nicola uncovered a niche in the market for an estate agent with true property expertise and the open-mindedness to sell homes in a flexible way beyond the usual property portals.

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Your business was founded from your own personal experiences in buying and selling property, how do you go above and beyond what other estate agents do?

Because of my property background and short stay accommodation business, there are additional services that I can provide.

I have a property on the market now, but it did need a bit of TLC to make it look it’s very best for the photo shoot, so I called in our clean team who were able to work their magic, we staged it as well. It’s the little things that can make such a huge difference to viewers when they are scrolling for property through online platforms like Rightmove.

You’ve adopted the use of social media for selling homes, how have you done that?

It’s just as much about what we share as where we share it.

I do a walkthrough video of the property – many estate agents do walkthrough videos now, but I get to the heart of what it’s like to live there. I sit down with the seller and find out about what they love about the property, living in the property, and in the local area.

I incorporate all of that in my videos and that gets shared across social media, because people can look at pictures and videos panning around the property but that doesn’t capture what the local schools are like, what the community is like, and what’s nearby that’s special.

I get to the heart of why somebody loved that property and their reasons for wanting it because I think people relate to that just as much as pictures and floor plans.

One of the things that I also found incredibly frustrating when I was viewing properties was that I could only do it between 9 and 5. I’ve incorporated a lot more flexibility into the viewing process so that if somebody needs to view a property outside of these hours it isn’t a problem.

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What are your current perceptions of the local property market?

It’s been a really difficult time for obvious reasons with interest rates and people scared to move. But now that we’re seeing a reduction in rates, the market is  starting to move; we’re seeing more people that are looking for valuations. 

First-time buyers are really coming out of the woodwork and people are gaining confidence from the market becoming busier. People who have been thinking about selling are now taking the step to get their house valued.

What advice would you give to someone looking to sell their property?

Don’t just go with the estate agent that gives you the highest price for your property. Ask them to underpin the valuation that they come to.

I will always look within a quarter to half-mile radius at what the market is looking like and what the sold prices have been over the last quarter to give an indication of the market. 

I work with reports that draw data and information from the likes of Ordnance Survey, Environment Agency, Land Registry, and the Valuation Office Agency, to ensure I can provide my clients with a detailed report to underpin the value of their home.

People can do the research themselves. If a similar nearby property sold for £325,000, and the estate agent tells you they’ll get you £400,000, then have the confidence to question it.

Always question things and don’t go just for the highest price, because if it’s too high your property will just sit in the market.

"I get to the heart of why somebody loved that property and their reasons for wanting it because I think people relate to that just as much as pictures and floor plans."

Nicola McManus, Managing Director at Marnic Real Estate Ltd.

You moved to Hampshire from Scotland 25 years ago, what do you love about the area and the geographical market in which you’re selling?

It’s just so diverse here. Even though I’ve been in the property market for over 25 years, I’m always still learning about property because of the range and the diversity here. 

For example, I learned about bungaroosh recently, a building material that was used on the south coast before cement. The diversity and the learning always keep me enthused.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of the business?

We’ve got a 10-year-old son. We live on the edge of Royal Victoria Country Park and we’re fortunate to live right on the beach in Netley so we love spending time as a family going for walks in the country park or spending time on the beach. We like our breaks as well – we all like to head over to our property in Spain when we can, and to our caravan in Chichester which are part of our serviced accommodation portfolio. 

I try to have a good work-life balance – taking breaks, having holidays, and getting out in the fresh air to have fun as a family.

"Don’t just go with the estate agent that gives you the highest price for your property. Ask them to underpin the valuation that they come to."

Nicola McManus, Managing Director at Marnic Real Estate Ltd.

Does anybody or anything inspire your approach to business?

Elon Musk – my partner and I are very much fans of what he does. We’re very mindful of carbon footprint and being kinder to the environment. I’m very futuristic in my thinking and I watch with keen interest what Elon Musk is doing.

What makes a property a home for you personally?

I’ve lived in a variety of properties; I went from an old Victorian house in Shirley to a modern beach house. For me personally, it’s not the property itself, what is hugely important to me is the location. The same applies to our family home and to the properties in my portfolio. Location is key – what’s around the home is what makes the home for us.