Our latest recruit, Associate, Richard Sumner, has a passion for sport and the great outdoors in his spare time – rising early to hit the golf course, or skiing the slopes (and, rather unintentionally, the rivers) of the Alps.
He has just joined our Crawley valuations team and brings with him over 10 years’ experience in residential property valuation, lease expertise and freehold enfranchisement advice.
We spoke to him to find out a bit more about what makes him tick, both personally and professionally.
So, Richard, where are you joining us from and why did you choose a career with us?
I’m joining from Arnold and Baldwin where I was a Director, having worked there for the last 7 years. However, I was impressed by Vail Williams’ corporate structure, core values and the way in which they invest in their staff, so looked to the firm for a new challenge in 2019.
What sort of work have you advised clients on in the past?
I have undertaken residential valuations for a variety of clients – from private individuals, to lenders including Metro Bank, Handelsbanken, Lloyds Bank, Natwest, Halifax and Santander.
I once helped a client to save over £200,000 by negotiating a lease extension where the ground rent had doubled every 10 years from £500 to £128,000 on a one bed flat in Croydon. Having served notice and following some negotiation, I was able to secure a deal with the freeholder at £34,000 – £206,000 less than they had wanted.
What are your ambitions in your new role?
I’m keen to develop my commercial valuation skills, share knowledge in my areas of expertise, and develop new business leads in the Kent and South East area.
What’s the best thing about working in property, and why?
I love being out and about, meeting people, constantly learning new skills in valuation and building pathology. I specifically enjoy the leasehold enfranchisement work, helping leaseholders extend their leases, whilst preventing them from overpaying when either extending or buying their freehold.
When new people join Vail Williams, we’re as interested in them as a person, as we are in their professional experience and qualifications. That way we can ensure that they enjoy an enriched career with us, which meets their personal and professional development needs.
Richard, what was your first ever job?
I worked at a summer school as a sports and activities organiser where children came to England to learn English in the summer holidays.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Have you ever had a hair-raising moment, if so, what was it?
Having been to a ski resort two years on the trot, I asked the ski instructor on the second year if we could do the jump off-piste from the previous year. A different instructor, he didn’t ask where the jump was, so I said I would show him.
I set off fairly quickly, heading towards yellow and black poles and realised the jump was no longer a jump but a river! Realising too late I skied across said river and hit the bank the other side, escaping with a fat lip and a grazed face. I have also jumped off a plane at 10,000 feet.
What’s your favourite band?
I don’t have a favourite band as such and enjoy a variety of different music from Carol King to The Killers, depending on my mood.
If you could work in any other profession, what would it be and why?
I would be a professional sportsman as I love sport and being outdoors.
What is your most treasured possession?
My memory. It reminds me of good times and people that we have loved and lost, as well as serving as a useful tool to help make better choices in the future, based on the lessons I’ve learned.
Do you have a party trick, and if so, what is it?
I can say the alphabet backwards…
Name three new things/skills/sports you’d love to learn this year.
From a career perspective, it would be to develop my commercial valuation skills, but from a personal point of view, I’d like to play the piano, and to lower my golf handicap from 17 to anything less!
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
It has to be the golf course, the hockey pitch or a ski slope on the weekends, but Monday-Friday it’s a strong cup of coffee!
What are you most proud of in life?
Given the amount of work I’ve invested in it, it has to be my two degrees and my status as a Chartered surveyor.
If you had to cook dinner for any 3 people in the world, who would they be, and why?
It would actually be my wife, brother and sister because I know what they like eating, they are guaranteed good company and they aren’t too fussy about what they eat!