Introducing Elizabeth Hill

25 June 2020

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In the next of our articles introducing members of the Cooke & Arkwright team, we meet Elizabeth Hill. Elizabeth is Director in charge of our property valuation team and talks us through her journey from agricultural to commercial property, the variety involved in her valuation work and the importance of good wifi when home working.

What was your route into property as a career?

Growing up on a farm, I knew that, as a girl, to be accepted by farmers as an equal I had to have professional qualifications.  I did work experience with Rennies the local agricultural surveyors and auctioneers and absolutely loved it.  After school I did a pre-college year with Rennies (the rural firm).  I loved the social networking of livestock market, I was interested in knowing what was going on in property terms in the area, often being involved in schemes long before they became public knowledge.  As I drive to work most days, I glance at a field in which we negotiated compensation for a wayleave in 1992.

I was advised to study commercial property because of the difficulties that the agricultural industry was experiencing at the time.  I chose to go to London’s South Bank University ( formerly Brixton School of Building) because it was an opportunity to experience a completely different environment and included a sandwich placement.  I spent my sandwich year working for British Telecommunications PLC in their non domestic rating department based in central London.  

Tell us about your work at Cooke & Arkwright

I work in the valuation department producing valuation reports.  This is interesting because we get involved in many different sectors, office, retail, industrial , residential development and commercial development.  We undertake valuations for a number of purposes including financial reporting, to comply with Charities Act regulations, for taxation and as Expert Witnesses for court proceedings.

Give us an overview of what an average day for you could entail?

Last Thursday I inspected two industrial units.  Since then I have drawn up plans, calculated the areas undertake investigations into the specific sites such as tenure, flood risk, energy efficiency and planning potential.  I have contacted numerous agents active in the area for comparable transactions and am grateful for the information that my counterparts in other firms have provided.  I have had to revert to the client for clarification about issues identified on inspection.  Finally drafting the reports.

In amongst this I have been studying for the CIPFA certificate in Local Authority Asset Valuations attending their on line course.  Thursday was meant to be the fourth and final day, although my wifi crashed so I am going to do it next week instead.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

I enjoy the variety, the social interaction and also being involved with projects at the conception.   I love going out on inspection but on a cold wet day it is nice to retreat to the desk.

What advice would you give someone starting out in property now

Be open minded and adaptable.  Eventually society is going to have to fully adapt to global warming, we are going to have to change some of our habits.  This will impact upon how we use property and consequently upon the world of surveying.

Tell us a bit about your experience working from home

Living in rural Monmouthshire I have spent my working life commuting.  I do not miss the morning drive, although, sometimes, I have missed the chance the journey home gave me to unwind before being bombarded by the demands of family life. 

I love sitting facing a window looking out into greenery, rather than the grey of the city centre.  The birds have been noisier than all the background noise in the city!

I am generally more efficient working in isolation, although, I miss my colleagues and the chance to bounce ideas off them.  Also, with everyone working remotely, comparables are generally obtained by e-mail rather than a good chat.

This week we have had problems with the wifi and I cannot believe how dependant we have become on it!

Cooke & Arkwright have provided independent property consultancy services to the College for a number of years. This advice has included property valuations and negotiation around property acquisition and disposal, rent reviews and the preparation and negotiation of the College’s farm business tenancy agreement. The College has consistently received an excellent and professional service from Cooke & Arkwright and their valuable support to the College is recognised and appreciated.

Bob Bates, Director, Coleg Gwent