Ed Siddall-Jones, managing director of agency Siddall Jones, on how he got started in property, his top book and podcast tips, the historical figure he’d like to befriend and his number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
I had a keen interest in the built environment from a young age and was writing to developers such as the Richardsons from the age of 13, introducing them to sites. Following a property degree at the University of the West of England, I joined a regional firm of chartered surveyors called Nattrass Giles in 2005 as a graduate. I then became the youngest partner of the firm in 2008 following a number of land sales.
What does your job entail?
Alongside the day-to-day running of the business, my role is still very much agency driven. We have a very diverse stock, ranging from large, single industrial units to small retail shops.
It is fair to say that no two days are the same.
What do you like most about the property industry?
To sum it up quickly, it is the people you meet. Most people who invest in property have made their money elsewhere. It is interesting to understand how they have succeeded in life and what has driven them towards investing in real estate and their plans for the future.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The red tape associated with the planning system and how it stifles the ambition and progression of our towns and cities. There are protracted legal processes when you have a willing seller and a willing purchaser in agreement and keen to get on with the next stage of their business plan, but it still takes forever to get the deal over the line, affecting both clients and agents.
What would you change about the property industry?
It would have to be business rates because of how antiquated the system is. We desperately need this overhauled, especially in order to bring life back to the high street. I believe we need to stop thinking about the high street in purely retail terms. Other business uses and residential close to the place of work must be good for the environment, and I think we will see more leisure growth in our city centres.
What are you most proud of in your career?
We sold a 3.5-acre site in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter that housed a former tyre depot. I drive past it every day coming into work and it is now an extensive mixed-use site under construction that will provide 395 new homes and commercial space. It is great to be involved in an industry where you have a positive impact on the local environment and economy.
What do you value in people?
Hard work, in that nothing is given to people who don’t put the effort in. Honesty is also extremely important – don’t lie if you get something wrong; learn from your mistakes and move on.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Get into the office early and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I learned the most about property once I graduated. It is an evolving industry and the day you become complacent is the day you lose your edge.