Women in property: An interview with Sharon Donaldson, Managing Director at Countrywide

Women in property: An interview with Sharon Donaldson, Managing Director at Countrywide

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we’re putting women in property in the spotlight to learn more about their experiences, how they got into the industry and what advice they would give to anyone looking to move currently. 

We wanted to hear from one of our own, Sharon Donaldson, Managing Director at Countrywide – a true female role model in the property industry.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in property. How did you start your career?

I started straight out of school working as an office junior in a West End estate agency. I joined Slater Hogg in 1986 and progressed from Sales Consultant to my first Branch Manager role. My career developed managing some of our flagship branches including West End, where we achieved the companies’ highest ever annual sales, a record that has stood for nearly 20 years! I became an Area Manager and then Regional Director managing several brands before my current role as Managing Director.

Why is it important for women to be in the agency profession?

More and more women are rising up in the ranks. Before, property was very male dominated but now I am proud to say that we can see a much more balanced playing field in the industry. Plenty of young women who started as negotiators and worked themselves up, are now juggling careers and families.

What should somebody coming to market today expect from their agent? 

Great service and local market expertise - always. But sellers should also be looking for somebody that can give them an edge in the marketplace. 

A good agent will get you sold, quickly and for the price you want. They can assist in optimising your online listing and make it as eye-catching as possible to also grab the attention of those potential buyers. Then they’ll arrange the advertising and consult with buyers and organise viewings. Estate agents do the majority of the legwork in a property sale.

These are just a few examples of how a good agent can maximise opportunities for sellers. 

 Is there still space for high street estate agents?

Definitely. Technology helps us in a lot of ways, but the local expertise an agent can provide is invaluable. Across our Countrywide branches, we have countless years of collective experience. When it comes to valuations, a property is far more likely to sell if priced right the first time, so having a great local agent involved at the start of the process is key. 

Do you think 2023 is a good year to sell?

Coming into the year, house prices have been at a historic high. The average UK house price now sits at £362,452, an annual price growth of 3.9%*. However, house prices are expected to fall in 2023 so if you are interested in selling, it’s worth getting a valuation sooner rather than later. 

Want to know how much your house is worth?

Should I go with a variable or fixed rate mortgage in 2023?

This comes down to whether you’d rather have the security of having your repayments stay the same every month at a premium with a fixed rate mortgage or risk that your repayments will cost you less long term with a variable rate mortgage. However, with a variable rate you are risking an increase to your repayments. To help you come to this decision, you should make an appointment with our qualified Mortgage consultants who can talk you through all your options and help you come to a fully informed decision.

Any other predictions for the housing market in 2023?

Nobody can really tell you exactly what’s going to happen. The first couple months of 2023 have shown more stability than expected, although many are predicting that house prices will fall in 2023. However, it’s important to keep in mind that currently house prices are, when compared to previous years, still quite high. This is especially due to the house price increases we saw during the pandemic**. Halifax are predicting that, as a result of cost of living rises and higher interest rates, the housing market will slow down*** and Rightmove have similarly predicted that the market will slow down and that buyers will be taking longer to find a property due to the costs of servicing a mortgage*.

Do you need a valuation?

* Rightmove House Price Index February 2023
*** Halifax House Price Index February 2023