GOC Estate Agents, based in South Belfast, is celebrating twenty five years in business, as the housing market shows strong signs of growth.
The company launched in Stranmillis by Gerry O’Connor and two members of staff in 1994, the same year ceasefires were announced and the average house price in Northern Ireland was just £38,410.
The business increased staff numbers by a third last year with the most recent stats showing that in 2017, Northern Ireland house prices increased by a UK high of 5.8% to an average of £139,599.
The agency which is now run by Gerry and his wife Kirby, alongside a team of experienced agents, has expanded to offer dedicated sales, lettings and rental management and land and new homes departments to meet the growing needs of clients.
Gerry said, ‘In some ways 1994 feels like yesterday, however many things have changed. Back then we had photographs glued to paper brochures and all of our contacts were stored in a telephone book, not an iPhone. While technology has dramatically changed, the business itself has also developed. We now have professional photographers, property videos, online property portals and social media. Customer service is still vital to us and offering accompanied viewings seven 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 6.125%, petrol was 48.9p per litre and a pint of milk and a loaf of bread were 35p and 50p respectively. TV sitcom 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 may be lower than they were at the height of the property boom ten years ago, but in 2018 there were nearly 5,000 new dwellings registered.
Gerry continued, ‘We worked diligently through the crash in the mid-2000s and beyond to become even stronger. Property is a very competitive industry and this milestone represents 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 are once again starting to build new developments. Rent payments are rising and while still affordable, more and more people are buying and looking to purchase through co-ownership. As technology and online agents increase we are continually taking steps to futureproof the business for the next twenty five years’.