From Global Travels to Local Homes: The Evolution of Home Management Company with Sue Hughes-Thomas

Published by Gary Ellis on May 29th 2024, 9:09am

“It was 1986 when I set up Home Management Company,” Susan Hughes-Thomas, the company owner, recalls. “That was following a period where my husband and I had lived abroad for 12 years due to his work.”

Identifying a niche in the market born out of personal experience, Sue envisioned a service that catered to the needs of homeowners with lifestyles similar to her own travel-extensive past. “My plan was to look after people’s homes who lived similar lives to us at that time,” she explains. “To ensure that when the owners came back, they wouldn’t face the disasters we often did upon returning home.”

The company’s growth trajectory mirrored the rapid changes in the property market, shaped by global events and various financial crises. “Companies weren’t moving people abroad in the same way,” Sue notes, highlighting how the property management and ownership landscape shifted with Home Management Company witnessing a plethora of changes. “We saw a surge in building societies inadvertently becoming homeowners due to negative equity, passing properties to us to manage until the market improved.

As the market continues to evolve, Sue remains a steadfast figure in the industry. “A lot of safety regulations have come in and improved the standard of properties,” she acknowledges. “Tenant demands have increased but so has the rent prices.”

Evolving Clientele and Industry Hurdles

Acknowleding clientele changes, Sue states that the clientele base has expanded, reflecting on the evolution from predominantly single people and young professional couples to a more diverse array of tenants, including families and different company types seeking rentals.

The geographical diversity of the UK also plays a role in the rental market’s dynamics. “Different areas of the country have different needs and different stock,” Sue observes, noting the contrast between student-dominated regions and family-oriented rentals in the north and Midlands.

Amidst these changes, Sue has also grappled with legislative shifts, particularly the Renters Reform Bill. The financial pressures of the current economy have not spared the rental industry. With rising mortgage rates, landlords find themselves caught between increasing costs and the ethical dilemma of passing these onto tenants.

Sue also touches on the inefficiencies of the court system, which can leave landlords vulnerable when tenants withhold rent. On this, Sue advocates for a system that ensures tenants understand the consequences of non-payment.

Leadership and Empathy

But amidst the challenges, Sue also stands out for her understanding of the human element. “Most certainly the business that we are in is a people business. You have to understand people,” she asserts. This belief is the cornerstone of her leadership style, which balances strength with fairness. “You’ve got to have a fair approach and yet you’ve got to be a strong leader,” she says.

Her leadership philosophy has fostered loyalty among her staff, many of whom “have been with me for many years,” Sue shares, attributing this to a team-based approach where fairness and honesty are paramount. “You are still the leader and they have to respect you,” she continues, “but you are part of the team.”

Sue’s approach extends beyond her immediate team to the tenants and landlords she serves. She understands the precariousness of tenants’ situations and strives to build relationships that accommodate their needs. “If a tenant loses their job, they’re in trouble very quickly,” she explains, advocating for flexibility and support rather than rigid adherence to contracts.

Her empathetic approach has proven effective, fostering cooperation and satisfaction among tenants, which in turn benefits the landlords. “If they have a satisfied tenant, they will then have a trouble-free tenancy by and large,” Sue notes, highlighting the reciprocal relationship between all parties involved.

Envisioning the Future: Sue’s Legacy

In the concluding remarks of Sue’s conversation, she delves into her contemplations about the future and the enduring mark she would wish to leave to ensure the continuity of The Home Management Company’s values.

Sue’s vision for her legacy is clear and straightforward: “the legacy would just be that we have been an honest and fair company,” she reflects. It’s a testament to the integrity and fairness that have been the bedrock of her business. Despite the inevitability of change, she hopes to pass on the torch to someone who will uphold these principles.

The Home Management Company, while modest in size, boasts a significant portfolio of 400 properties and a dedicated team of seven. Her aspiration would, in time, be to find a successor who will continue in the same vein, albeit with a modern touch. “Technology moves on more quickly than any of us,” she admits, “but I hope would keep the same sort of ethos of being fair both to landlords and tenants and to the staff that are working for them.”

Sue Hughes-Thomas’ legacy would not just be about the properties managed or the deals brokered; but also the relationships nurtured and the community built. Her commitment to fairness, honesty, and empathy has not only shaped her leadership but also the culture of her company. As she looks to the future, her hope would be that these values would remain the guiding light for The Home Management Company, ensuring its continued success and positive impact on all those it serves.

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Gary Ellis
Senior Editor
May 29th 2024, 9:09am

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