North East property business branches out
A North East property group is expanding, with the addition of its first dedicated mortgage shop in the heart of Sunderland.
The Andrew Craig Group, which is best-known for its estate agency business, with branches across the North East, has taken over premises on High Street West in Sunderland city centre to set up Mortgages Now, providing mortgage brokerage services directly to customers both in store and online.
The new premises will remain home to Sunderland’s Yorkshire Building Society only now being operated as an agency, which will support customers as normal, with Mortgages Now operating from a separate part of the building.
Andrew Craig Group already employed six mortgage advisers, who operated under the national Mortgage Advice Bureau brand within Andrew Craig Estate Agency branches, but has appointed a new advisor to work from the Mortgages Now office, providing support to customers seeking new home loans as well as those looking to re-mortgage and take advantage of favourable rates available on the market.
Andrew Craig, managing director of the Andrew Craig Group, said: “The housing market remains extremely buoyant, with the estate agency part of our business recording its busiest month ever in September. Lots of people are seeking out new mortgages and, with interest rates slashed, many people are re-mortgaging to save some money or reduce their mortgage term. There’s a great deal of movement in the market and we’re keen to support customers with this.
“The Mortgages Now offer is not aligned to our estate agents in any way, so anyone can pop in and speak to our advisor, and access fantastic support to help them find the best mortgage product for them.”
As well as delivering services in branch, Mortgages Now will offer online or over-the-phone mortgage reviews, to ensure that people who are isolating during the pandemic are still able to tap into their support.
“I have had a view to set up a mortgage business for some time, and when we were approached to consider taking the YBS branch, it felt like the right opportunity to make it happen.
“We’re keen to expand the Mortgages Now business, and although this branch has only just opened, we’re already looking at two further stores, which would allow us to establish the company with customers and support them to find the best deal and to save money.
“But we recognise that lots of people are keen to access support remotely – either by phone or through video conferencing – so we’re helping customers in this way too. It’s all about making it as stress and hassle-free as possible for people.”
The Andrew Craig Group already employs almost 100 people, with estate agency branches in Gateshead, Birtley, Boldon, Chester le Street, Low Fell, Hebburn, Jarrow, Gosforth, South Shields, Sunderland and Whickham. The new arm of the business was set up in Sunderland, where the Andrew Craig brand is well established.
“We’ve had branches in Sunderland for more than 20 years, and we know that the city centre has held up very well, even during the pandemic. We’re really proud to continue to invest here, as we see this as a really up and coming city; and we know that there is a great deal of investment planned and underway in housing, so it feels like a really good time to be establishing ourselves on the high street.”
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, welcomed the Group’s decision to add to its offer in the city.
He said: “We have ambitious plans to build more and better homes in Sunderland, and we’re seeing housebuilders flock to the city. In recent months we have announced new schemes from Avant, Miller, Story, Karbon, Linden and Gentoo Homes across the city as more people are attracted to live in Sunderland.
“And with most new sales comes the requirement for a new mortgage – it’s a great time to be serving this need in Sunderland, and we’re delighted that Andrew has spotted the opportunity and is investing in the city centre in the process.”
Sharon Appleby, head of business operations at Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID), said: “The city centre is regenerating at pace, and it is fantastic to see this kind of private sector investment delivering a vibrant high street for Sunderland.”
To find out more about Mortgages Now, visit Mortgagesnow.co.uk, call 0191 5623111 or pop into the branch at 230 High Street West.