• “Ballymore’s 40-year track record speaks for itself”

“Ballymore’s 40-year track record speaks for itself”

Seven months into his role as Managing Director of Sales & Marketing we chat to Brian De’ath about what brought him to Ballymore, his view of the housing market, the fundamental needs of home buyers, and how his beach hut at Frinton on Sea is his favourite place of all.

“Ballymore’s 40-year track record speaks for itself”

“I feel very fortunate to have stumbled into this industry”

You don’t work in this industry without familiarising yourself with Ballymore! Their 40-year track record speaks for itself and I’d followed their progress throughout my career whilst working for other developers. Quite simply put, I love what they produce. 

The element that makes them stand out and really encapsulates their USP is their individualistic approach to every project they undertake. They don’t arrive and say ‘we’re going to put our overarching Ballymore stamp on this’ which wouldn’t necessarily be an unsuccessful approach - instead they devote their energy into asking ‘how can we best capture the heart of this location.’ 

The focus is always to add to the unique character of the landscape with the stamp of approval coming from studying each potential development in isolation. This is an inherently different approach to developers I’ve worked with previously and forms part of the Ballymore magic. 

“Ballymore’s 40-year track record speaks for itself”

Embassy Gardens in London

A vision of the future 

This innovative outlook ensures that every project seamlessly captures the essence of its location, to create an organic addition to the space whilst creating a thriving new community.  I’ll never forget going to visit Embassy Gardens in 2011. There was just the original three storey marketing suite on site surrounded by nothing but car show rooms and light industry, yet when asked what I thought of it whilst standing on the terrace viewing platform, my response was simply ‘I think I feel ill.’ 

The truth is, I wished that I was delivering this quality of experience on the projects I was currently dealing with, but at this time we weren’t. That this space had been able elicit this level of feeling, despite the existing surroundings being completely uninspiring, shows how very special it was.

We can dress it up as much as we like, but at the heart of buying a home is the need to feel secure and safe. People have always - and will always want a place where they can shut the rest of the world away and relax. The ability to attract buyers lies in this simple truth and what I realised on that visit around Embassy Gardens - which was at the very beginning of its journey and is still coming to fruition 13 years later - is the power in being able to evoke that feeling of home. The skill of executing a space whereby people can see a vision of the future - their future. That’s what Ballymore have done countless previous times  and it’s what they still do today. 

There is also a great energy and sense of responsibility in working here, which I think can only come from being part an owner managed business. Having worked for PLCs and received the advice to ‘act like you own it’ I’m now part of a business where the owners sit at the very heart of everything the company stands for. It doesn’t belong to distant shareholders, who you can’t visualise, it belongs to real people working incredibly hard, showing up every day to do the best they can. 

Seeing the bigger picture 

An essential part of my role is to engage and motivate the teams around me. Without selling our properties we don’t have a business, so managing the sales team is an integral part of my day to day. I used to work as a salesman in an estate agent so I can use that skill set although I have to take more of a helicopter view rather than get tied down in the finer details, whilst also remembering that every single sale deserves a celebration. Each is a reminder that we have triggered that human response to the feeling of being in a Ballymore home. 

It’s important to never lose sight of how people feel in a space, something I feel is at the core of Ballymore. The business has a very good handle on the numbers - you don’t get to achieve what it has in these past 40 years without this. But it combines this fiscal responsibility with intuition, a gut feeling, which is necessary, especially when planning multi-phased projects like Embassy Gardens which can take decades to complete. There are always going to be variables you can’t control or predict and it takes a certain skill set to successfully navigate the many ups and downs of the market.

The housing market has experienced another tricky year; perhaps the market will look back on the latter part of 2023 as a low point in this economic cycle. More broadly, Brexit and Covid have presented us with continued challenges - we’ve seen a higher demand for larger homes with buyers choosing to stretch themselves into bigger spaces, whilst investors have been far thinner on the ground.

Although we have had a positive start to the year we can never be complacent. Interest rates have a big part to play in giving potential buyers the confidence to move forward with their purchase and all of us in the industry are waiting expectantly for the first rate cut; I’m an optimist and have been predicting that’ll happen this May… let's see.

Beyond the brief

Outside of work you’ll mainly find me spending time with friends and family. I’ve been married to Gaynor for 23 years and we have two girls, Holly Rose (19) and Madeleine (17). We love to spend time at our pink and white striped beach hut in Frinton on Sea - in fact I’ll be cycling the 70 miles there this weekend and the girls will meet me there, travelling by car! My favourite thing is to paddle board and swim in the sea, and I’m also a keen runner. I’ve just started to experiment with triathlons and am looking forward to a couple of events later this year.

I feel very fortunate to be a part of the property development world. There was certainly no grand plan for this as a career when I left university and I put whatever success I have been part of over the (almost) last 30 years to saying yes; to opportunities and having a can-do, positive attitude.

Working for Ballymore is in alignment with my own goals: You must be invested and believe in the product you are selling and when the product is this good it’s easy to say yes to it, both from mine and a potential purchaser's perspective.


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