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Under the skin of the letting market

Here we share news and views on both the local letting market in & around Oxfordshire and all planned and recent legislation.


Frank Webster – Media Man


Frank Webster prepares before being taken in to the studio at BBC Oxford

 

This year Frank Webster has become a regular contributor to both BBC Radio Oxford and The Sunday Times. He feels strongly about presenting the letting industry in the correct light and here we go behind the scenes:

 

The BBC

“It started when I was asked to make a monthly appearance on the afternoon drive time show to comment on topical issues about property and how they relate to Oxfordshire.

“In the past I’ve sporadically appeared on BBC Radio Oxford, usually to give local reaction to a news event at very short notice when they need a comment for one of the Oxford estate agents, but this monthly five-minute slot has given me an opportunity to discuss a range of topics. It all came about when the producer of the show read a copy of our quarterly report which has a focus on factual trends, the impact of new legislation and up-to-date news from our perspective.

“Shortly beforehand I’m given a broad outline about the questions, which helps me  research within Finders Keepers and speak to experienced estate agents locally to gain a rounded picture. There’s always so much happening in Oxford and in the county to give a local view on national trends.

“Topics have ranged from proposed changes to planning laws, reports about rents increasing and the state of the selling market. However, in a fast-moving news environment there’s often a change of plan and it’s very ‘up to the wire’ which can be a bit nerve-wracking, but nonetheless exciting to think on your feet on live radio. Really, what I want to convey is more our professional opinion, rather than attempting to be the guru of absolutely everything.

“I’m a huge fan of the BBC and particularly radio, which has always fascinated me. When I was a teenager I did some work with hospital radio in Oxford (Radio Cherwell) and I had my own show. I remember interviewing Colin Dexter when he won his first Silver Dagger award. Although I was pretty young and lacking in life experience, it really gave me a taste for radio. I’ve got a great admiration for the way the presenters and production team make it happen so seamlessly. BBC Radio Oxford is a great facility for the county and I really hope we hold on to it.

 

Live on air: Notes come in useful, but due to the nature of news, Frank sometimes has to think on his feet

 

The Sunday Times

“I’m an avid reader of Home, the property section of The Sunday Times and I have been delighted to answer several questions now in the ‘Ask the Expert’ column right at the back. It is a totally different challenge to the live radio where you have to think quickly. With the Expert questions we get a bit of notice as they come from readers, usually with a specific, complex problem relating to a rented property such as:

  • My central heating works but my family is freezing as the heating system and windows are so old: what can I do as the tenant?
  • Our landlord recently died and their son would like us to stay in the property. Should we pay rent to him and ask for receipts, or should a new contract be drawn up?
  • Our tenants recently stopped paying rent and have abandoned the property, taking some of our furniture with them. It turns out the standing order, required in the contract, was cancelled three months into the tenancy, with cheques being dropped off by different people. Do we have a case against the agent?
  • My student son has been renting a one-bedroom flat with multiple maintenance issues, but the landlord won’t authorise any repairs. Can my son withhold his final rent payment?

“Three factors make the Ask an Expert feature tricky. First, by definition the questions are difficult, often with ambiguities which we cannot resolve as we do not have contact with the reader. Second, we only have about 100 words for the answer, which is a real test. Third, my friends and workmates will read it so I had better get it right!”

The reaction

“You would be surprised at how many people listen to local BBC radio or read the back page of the Home section. It is great to receive so much feedback and generally people seem to think I am (more or less) talking sense. So many media  commentators hype up the market in a way which is not that helpful – I am just aiming to tell it how it is whilst maintaining the professionalism which is part of our DNA here at Finders Keepers and enjoying sharing my experience.”