Open house at Geoffrey Collings for 50th

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Three-bed bungalow in Long Sutton for a little over £8,000 anyone?

It’s almost impossible now to believe that was a realistic sum for a house in the 1970s – the same property today would set a purchaser back by something like £150,000.

Ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary at Geoffrey Collings: from left - ''Sue Byrne, Kathleen Franklin, David Wilson, Amy Wells, Richard Tasker. Photo: SG270715-154TW

Ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary at Geoffrey Collings: from left - ''Sue Byrne, Kathleen Franklin, David Wilson, Amy Wells, Richard Tasker. Photo: SG270715-154TW

We buy them, hope to maintain and even improve them, and that the value of our homes will go up, and not down, but probably don’t give them a lot more thought than that.

But one company has been directly involved in the ups and downs of the housing market for the past 50 years – Geoffrey Collings & Co.

Partner in the business David Wilson, who works at the Long Sutton office, has become a repository of knowledge about the changing fortunes of the market for much of that time.

He says the company was formed by the late Geoffrey Collings in 1965 in King’s Lynn, dealing in both residential and commercial properties, and David joined as an assistant the same year.

Six months after the firm was created, one of David’s two partners joined the firm, Jeffrey Hazel, and they both became partners in 1970. The third partner, Andrew Holford, a property surveyor, joined the partnership in 1995.

An early project the firm was involved in was the sale of much of the village of Brancaster and part of the beach to the National Trust, but at the other end of the scale were the cottages being rented out in King’s Lynn.

David said: “From recollection, rents were 10 shillings a week if there was not an inside tap and 10 shillings and 6d if there was an inside tap.”

Many of those houses went years ago in slum clearances, just one of the many changes David has witnessed. For instance, most houses used to be sold at auction, and David said he conducted a number of property auctions when he moved in 1972 to the Long Sutton office, the first one to be opened. There are now other offices at Terrington St Clement and Dersingham. Apart from the partners, the King’s Lynn office employs five full-time and two part-time staff, while the Long Sutton office employs three full-time and one part-time staff members.

David says there have been changes in the way properties are marketed, with a lot more emphasis these days on property websites, and the way brochures are prepared. The glossy, colour brochures of today are a great improvement on the black and white ones that carried no photographs.

David said: “The volumes of properties has increased significantly in Long Sutton, and all over, and that’s another reason properties used to be sold at auction. There was such a scarcity of properties that an auction was the best way of securing the best price. At Long Sutton during the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s there were a significant number of new developments. I suppose people have become more mobile so properties are changing hands on a more regular basis. Home ownership is changing again. It probably peaked around 2000 and is now in decline, with more rental properties.”

Geoffrey Collings & Co will be celebrating the 50th anniversary on Saturday, August 15 (10am to 3pm) when everyone is invited to go along for cake and something sparkly plus a free raffle, with donations going to Holbeach Community Hospital.

• Geoffrey Collings & Co sells between 150 and 200 properties a year and finds tenants for over 200 properties a year.

The firm used to have regular furniture sales, and up until March last year two sporting auctions a year. The furniture sales, in Gedney and then in Sutton Bridge, stopped when the demand for brown furniture dried up.