Property interview: Roscoe West on his independent estate agency in Killearn
What does your company do? We are an independent estate agent dealing in residential sales across Central Scotland.
We are based in the village of Killearn, north of Glasgow, and the reason we opened here was because we felt there was a gap in the market. All the other estate agents that operate in this area are based in Glasgow or Stirling, and we wanted to provide a local alternative.
This year we’ve achieved 44 per cent of the market share, and since setting up two years ago we’ve sold£50 million worth of property.
How did you get started? Both Chloe and I worked for bigger corporate estate agencies in Glasgow for years, but I was brought up in Killearn and, during and after Covid, I really felt that the market was changing.
So many people were – and still are – moving out of cities and into villages for a lifestyle change, and we felt that knowing the community, the amenities, and having a real local knowledge would mean we could offer a unique service.
We opened our doors in November 2021 with an office that is on the main street of Killearn, set in an old linen bank, which is full of character and fits what we do perfectly.
What was the first property you took on? Obviously I couldn’t cross over working between my previous company and this one, so from day-one in our office it was a case of getting our heads down to get the first client. We didn’t have a massive budget, so it was a challenge.
The first property we took on was a flat in Aberfoyle priced at £90,000. From there our For Sale boards started to promote the brand, and they are still a big part of marketing.
An early local client asked us to sell her mother’s house in Edinburgh, so straight away we expanded our territory.
Now we have a reach from Kilcreggan in Argyll, Cardross on the Clyde, to Perth and through to Edinburgh, currently selling properties priced up to £2m.
Chloe has a background in marketing and takes on most of the day-to-day running of the business.
At the beginning it was just the two of us, now we employ a trainee valuer, and an administration assistant.
How are you finding the current market? Expectations can be tricky to manage – those people who are comparing their own sale with a similar house a year ago – but there are also those who think that the market has gone downhill to nothing, with is absolutely not the case.
A year ago, when the market was stronger, people were prepared to offer 20 per cent over just to secure something they really liked, but now buyers are a little more cautious and taking into consideration their outgoings.
We are finding that we are having to do more work, and sometimes we need to really hold people’s hands from start to finish – which might just take a bit longer at this time of year.
What are your predictions for the market? I haven’t got a crystal ball, but I think it is a case of coming back to normality now. We are still seeing closing dates, but not everything is going way over the asking price. Over the next year, if interest rates plateau it will help the whole market.
Do rural clients differ from city clients? People tend to move to this area and stay for years, so they may not have undergone the buying and selling process for a long time, unlike, say, owners of flats in the city which might change hands every two years.
We’ve sold a house for an 80-year-old who was born in it, so many of our clients are undergoing a quite emotional process and not one that they are overly familiar with.
Many people are selling after 30 or 40 years in the same house, so we have to be very involved and support them every step of the way.
In general, which demographic characterises your buyers? As well as locals, and those moving out of the Central Belt, we find that we are working with people who are coming from further afield, from London and abroad, but most often it is not just a second home that they are looking for, it is people looking for a nice place to live permanently.
How do you plan to grow the business? We have just picked up the keys for our second office out in Callander. There is currently no estate agent on the high street, so we plan to offer a local service there too.
Having a physical presence means a lot to our clients – a lot of estate agents are online only, but we are in an industry where people want to deal with people.
A personal touch, and knowing a face and a name is very important.
Born and raised I was born in Glasgow and moved with my parents to Killearn as a child.
Education I went to Killearn Primary School, then Balfron High School, after which I studied building surveying at college.
Family As Chloe and I have grown the business, we have also grown our family. We have a little boy who is almost three, called Henry, and a daughter, Matilda, who is one.
First job A paper round in the village when still at school. After college I sold photocopiers – which gave me a thick skin. And I ran a delicatessen and catering company in Milngavie, which helped my ability to work with people, before going into property.
Where do you live We have a three-bedroom detached house in the centre of Killearn. Working in estate agency, we are sometimes tempted to move when we look around other homes, but being in the heart of the village with kids is great for now.
Visit West Homes’ website here.