Marion Ellis sat down to chat with Kevin Keane MRICS, who has been working at Walker Fraser Steele Chartered Surveyors since 2013. He carries out all aspects of Residential Valuations, Home Reports and Energy Inspections mainly within Stirling and the surrounding areas in Scotland, and has an interest in Historic Building Conservation and rural properties.
Learning the Ropes in Your First Job
It’s a scary time for people, once they’ve got qualified, to find that first job. Building surveyors who’d taken the university route, like Kevin Keane had, with little hands on experience at the time of graduation, present a certain risk and a big investment to bigger firms until they are properly trained and can start fee earning. On the other hand, being at the beginning of a career, young surveyors are fresh and open to learning, and sometimes have less fear of difficult parts of the job. Here’s how Kevin got started in his career.
“On day one I went to an office in Glasgow to a manager who’s now retired and he’d given me a couple of phone numbers and said these are going to be your mentors. And my mentor Mark was fantastic, a real unsung hero, a great trainer, and I still talk to him every day. I was out in the car last week and he said to me ‘remember seven years ago how excited you were?’. Because you just didn’t know where you were going to be the next day. On a Friday afternoon, I was like ‘where are we going on Monday?.’ I think he found that quite funny and fresh, after he had done it for 20 years. But he has taught me everything.”
We also wanted to know how it was for Kevin to get introduced to valuations, which is what many surveyors shy of from.
“Because the job was a brand new start for me, the whole process was just the stepping stones of learning. I started to find the valuations really interesting, researching why someone would pay 50 grands more just to stay on this street, rather than moving two streets down. Valuation is interesting because you find out what makes people tick.”
How the Housing Market Works in Scotland
The way the housing market operates in Scotland is different from the rest of the country, so Kevin explains how it works.
“A lot of my colleagues have asked me that question for years. What’s different is that to put your property on the market in Scotland, it’s a legal requirement that you’ve got a single survey home report carried out by a Chartered Surveyor, and then it’s on the market for the estate agent. So once on the market, there is already a registered valuation carried out.”
“It’s also different in terms of, when you offer on a property it’s more legally binding and not subject to contract. Your offer wouldn’t be accepted if it was subject to sales, so it gives the certainty, and we don’t have the issues with freehold and leasehold, absolute ownership was abolished long before my time. The home reports have been on the go since December 2008. Previously, you could have been doing the survey on the same property for a few different clients.”
The Importance of Social Media Fluency for Surveyors
Kevin has been very active on Instagram and other social media and goes by #SurveyorKev username and hashtag. We wanted to know how he sees that as part of his job.
“It’s interesting because a lot of the pictures are not even of houses, it’s just me walking or driving past. I like the connection with people, and it creates a little discussion under the posts, and gives you a feeling of company, because when you work on your own you’re quite isolated. I’ve enjoyed it, especially in the past three or four months. It’s been harder on LinkedIn because people are always saying it shouldn’t be used in the same way as Facebook and it’s there for work, so you can get confused. Sometimes I wonder if I should put something from my Instagram on LinkedIn too.”
In the end it’s about understanding where your audience is. Instagram can be the way to go if you’re looking for direct customers who are homeowners and who want a survey or a valuation. What we are doing really on social media is building relationships and the know, like and trust factor with the people who want to know about you as a surveyor and what you do. From the way you present yourself and share, it depends how much they’re likely to trust you, and possibly approach you for your services.
Connect with Kevin Keane
Connect with Marion Ellis:
Walker Fraser Steele Chartered Surveyors https://walkerfrasersteele.co.uk/
Careers and APC with Kate Taylor https://thesurveyorhub.libsyn.com/007-careers-and-apc-with-kate-taylor
Home Buying and Selling Group https://www.regulationmatters.uk/features/about-the-home-buying-and-selling-group/
The Surveyor Hub https://www.facebook.com/groups/the.surveyor.hub.bluebox.partners
The Surveyor Hub is a proud partner of Lionheart, the benevolent fund which supports RICS members and their families.