Insider view: Jennifer Campbell, the very busy nationwide head of rural for Baird Lumsden DM Hall

Job title Head of rural agency for Baird Lumsden DM Hall, one of the largest firms of independent chartered surveyors in Scotland, now heading into our 125th year in 2022.

Jennifer Campbell

Baird Lumsden has a wealth of experience and knowledge in rural property. As a firm, we are truly multidisciplinary, offering a full range of property services throughout Scotland, including home reports, residential and commercial valuations, planning, strategic land sales, estate management, commercial agency, lettings, building surveying, business sales, legal searches, architectural services, EPCs and energy advice and property consultancy.

How did you get started? In 2008, when the recession hit, I took the opportunity to transfer my business development skills, previously used in the events sector, to begin a new chapter. I joined a property firm in Edinburgh and within the year I was transferred to a senior role in their Perth branch.

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It was there that I fell in love with rural property – residential, farm and estate sales, plus fishing and woodland. I moved to Baird Lumsden in 2019, covering Scotland including the islands, solely specialising in rural property sales and working closely with our planning division to recognise development opportunities.

Raggithill Farm in Ayrshire is just one of the properties currently on Baird Lumsden DM Hall’s books

What type of property do you deal with? Since joining the firm I have been responsible for the sale of distillery sites, multi-million pound residential development sites, private estates, equestrian properties, plot sales, new-build sales and so the portfolio is diverse, but what ties this together is their location, which is always rural.

Currently on the market, we have a steading cottage in Balfron, a pub in Knoydart, a smallholding in Ayrshire, a country house in Fintry, an estate by Loch Lomond, and land parcels throughout Scotland.

Property turnover is fast and only last week we had three closing dates.

What is your typical day like? Our central office is in Bridge of Allan, in a beautiful former mill building . Normally there is a dog in the office, trying to get attention from the busy team members.

The phone literally starts ringing before 9am and doesn’t stop until we leave. Geographically, I cover a large area and so can be on the road often, but I have access to regional DM Hall offices from which I can hot-desk.

I have always been good at time management and this is key to running a busy department. The best part of the job is discovering new talent and creating jobs as a result.

Does your job mix with your social life? Baird Lumsden DM Hall is fantastic at organising events to support our charity partners and, where possible, I will involve the family.

Recently I took part in the Kilt Walk and smashed my marathon miles and fundraising target by swimming, paddling, cycling, running and hill climbing with my kids. And just before Covid we had a fabulous evening at the RHET [Royal Highland Educational Trust] Gala Dinner, with over £90,000 raised at the auction for a superb and much needed cause.

What has been the biggest challenge? Covid! We were relatively unaffected in terms of the demand for rural property, as that surged after the first lockdown. However, that in itself was difficult to manage initially and we are constantly amazed by the level of offers we receive at closing dates.

I had a sale in Edinburgh recently that achieved nearly 40 per cent over the asking price, and a land sale in Perth that achieved more than 100 per cent over.

I don’t recall there ever being a difficult time to sell rural property, but what is strikingly different today is the new audience. Purchasers are emptying their pockets, borrowing from family and throwing everything at an offer to secure their dream of a new life in the countryside.

Our outdoors and natural environment has simply never been so valued. This has attracted a younger audience with aspirations of off-grid living and it’s so exciting to be part of this industry, now evolving to address climate change, flood mitigation schemes, tree planting and sustainable housing for rural communities.

However, nothing stands still. The radical proposals in the Housing to 2040 Route Map will no doubt alter the housing market in Scotland, and every homeowner and landlord should familiarise themselves with the proposals. There may be many challenges ahead for second home owners.

What advice would you give someone wanting to work in your industry? My recommendation would be to research becoming a chartered surveyor. It is not a requirement to be RICS qualified to practice in Scotland as an estate agent, however, given the legislation in lettings, it will be a matter of time before an industry standard qualification will be set.

There are regulatory bodies to research to get information on working in this industry.

Register for work experience, keep yourself informed and be persistent.

What are the best routes into your line of work? We employ 230 people across our 25 offices and offer a broad spectrum of specialisms.

We welcome speculative enquiries and I recently conducted a recruitment search and we have two new appointments starting this month, one new to the industry and one coming to us from a sales negotiator role for a house builder.

One applicant saw our advert and wrote to me personally, the second applied online but took the time to write a well-researched covering letter. Both had a telephone interview before being invited to a virtual appointment. An allergy to dogs may have been a problem but we did ask!

Excellent written skills and a good phone manner are essential, as well as a thorough understanding of our industry and our brand.

Life file

Born and raised Edinburgh n Education The Mary Erskine School, first-class graduate of Heriot Watt University.

I was accepted onto the MRICS Senior Professional Pathway this year.

Family Two young children and a patient hard-working husband.

CV Following graduation, I worked as a project manager for an interior design firm in Edinburgh. I managed the renovations of

commercial premises and second homes in France.

First home I bought my first flat in Edinburgh at the age of 24 and had a habit of moving every three years until now.

Your current residence In a tiny semi-rural hamlet in Fife with a wonderful community. Our house has a walled garden and views over

fields and woodland.

Plans for retirement Time with family and friends and a bit of country music. Life’s simple pleasures.

Personal motto Be happy.