THEY’RE running a family business – and building firm foundations.
Now Sue Coates and her sons Jonathan and Matthew, of Lepton-based SW Property Management, are set to embark on another phase of expansion.
Brighouse-born Sue, 50, set up the business while working full-time in a local estate agency office. “A landlord who was a friend of mine was getting fed up having to deal with his properties and tenants and asked if I would look after them for him,” she says.
“Pretty soon I was looking after 20 properties and it was becoming unmanageable to do that and carry on with my full-time job. I worked on my own for about three years and the business grew on the back of recommendations and referrals. It became more than just helping out friends.
“Eighteen months ago, I got to the stage where I was managing 50 properties on behalf of landlords and that’s when Jonathan and Matthew got involved.”
Jonathan, 28, started working on a permanent part-time basis in January, 2011, and helped to push the business forward. He joined full-time in July last year. Matthew, 26, who is a self-employed personal trainer, devotes 12 hours a week to the business and helps deal with finances and accounts.
As letting agents, SW Property Management handles everything from finding tenants and scouting potential properties for landlords to providing landlords with a full management service.
Sue, a member of the Residential Landlords Association, says the business has grown at a time when would-be householders are finding it harder to raise the deposit for a mortgage.
“More and more people are renting,” she says. “More and more people are also becoming ‘accidental’ landlords who are deciding to rent out properties because they cannot sell them. These are people who have never been landlords before and need advice and support.”
Says Sue: “A lot of people have gone into renting properties without understanding the implications. They expect to collect their rents every month on the dot for ever and ever. But tenants have their problems. Their circumstances can change through losing their job or getting divorced. We try to advise landlords about the worst-case scenario.”
The company is based at the Coates’ home address in Sorbus Way. The arrangement means they have lower overheads than town centre lettings agencies and can be contacted seven days a week – hopefully enabling any problems to be dealt with quickly.
Jonathan attended Colne Valley High School and Greenhead College before studying sport at York St Johns University. “My dream was to become UK table tennis champion,” he says, “but it didn’t work out! I looked into teaching, but I didn’t think it was for me.”
Matthew is kept busy with his work as a personal trainer and dealing with financial matters for the family business. His big claim to fame was playing bass with local band Smooth when it supported Bryan Adams at his Galpharm Stadium concert. Rock stardom wasn’t on the cards, but Matthew says: “I enjoy what I do and helping out the family business part-time.”