'I've probably been in most Sid Valley houses' - estate agent reflects on 44 years
PUBLISHED: 11:40 12 April 2017
An estate agent is hanging up his keys to the Sid Valley after 44 years to become a consultant.
Born into a farming family, Mike Lavers entered the housing industry almost by a fluke and said that luck continued throughout his career.
With Ed Harrison, the 64-year-old co-founded what would later become Harrison-Lavers and Potbury’s, and now he looks back on a ‘golden age’.
“I’ve been really lucky to be able to live and work in a town I really love,” said classic car lover Mike. “The folks of Sidmouth have been good to me and supported me and my firm really well. I don’t think there are many houses I haven’t been into.
“I’ve lived through a golden age. When I left school, I came to work on the family business, agricultural contracting, but I hurt my back and had to give up any heavy work.
“I got into estate agency almost by a fluke. I left school at 16 and had no real qualifications, just common sense and personality, and I made it work. Things were a lot more laid back then.”
He and Ed co-founded Harrison-Lavers, which merged with Potbury’s Estate Agents in 1985. Today it employs 18 people.
Reflecting on his career, Mike said Sidmouth has broadly been protected from the worst fluctuations in the housing industry – whatever state the economy is in, there are always people coming from the South East looking to retire to Devon.
He said high property prices are good for the estate agents but it makes life ‘difficult’ for the town’s youngsters due to the ‘not high’ wages.
Even so, the father-of-two said the demographics had shifted over his career, with more young families to balance out the large number of retirees.
“Over the years we’ve seen a lot of changes and expansion, not all of it good, but Sidmouth remains relatively unspoilt,” added the Combe Hayes resident.
“We have a lot of amenities here. It’s a town with tourism, not a tourism town – at the end of the season, we get the town back. We have a very vibrant population here, and people care about what happens.
Mike will continue to play an active role in Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce – he organises its regular classic car show that will return on Saturday, September 15, next year – and be a member of the Sid Valley Rotary Club.
He is also joining other Jaguar XK owners on a fundraising drive for Prostate Cancer UK in his 1960 model this summer.
Mike and his wife Ann have two adult children, Emma and James.