Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

Five minutes with.....Sophie Wall, Senior Chartered Surveyor

04/05/21Five minutes with.....Sophie Wall, Senior Chartered Surveyor

When did you decide to pursue a career in chartered surveying? 

I had started studying Psychology before I decided to change my degree to Rural Enterprise and Land Management at Harper Adams University. Until that point, I didn’t know what surveying was and I had never heard of chartered surveyors before! However, I thought that by changing degrees I would have a more realistic job prospect at the end of it and not having to go down the path of city living. I’ve always loved the countryside and the thought of finding a job that meant I could live and work in a rural setting had huge appeal.

What did you most enjoy about your Rural Enterprise and Land Management degree at Harper Adams University?

The collection of like-minded people in a nice setting. In terms of the work aspect, I found the placement year to be invaluable. Having since worked with graduates from other universities who also did a placement year, and those who didn’t, I think the practice year out is essential when first hitting the office as a graduate.

What advice would you give to someone interested in following the same career path as you?

Be absolutely certain of what rural surveying involves. Harper Adams University prepared me for the vast array of subject matter that surveying requires. Your job choice thereafter can then dictate how your career pans out. You could go to a local/regional firm and be a general practice surveyor, doing a bit of everything. Or you could go to a national firm where you are able to specialise. Some firms have dedicated planners and you simply won’t have the opportunity to do that work. It’s important to research firms and do as much work experience as possible.

What do you love most about working at Forge Property Consultants?

I love working at Forge because I undertake a wide range of diverse valuation work. So in one day I could be valuing a pig farm, then doing a home survey on a residential property, and then undertaking a commercial property valuation.

Even though we have large quantities of important work leaving the office on a daily basis, there is also a really relaxed atmosphere in the office and a good work/life balance which is important.

What has been your most interesting property to survey/value at Forge Property?

Whilst it is nice to see grand or older properties, the ones I find most interesting are those that have ‘valuation issues’ such as boundary disputes, complex tenancies. Or simply obscure properties which do not sell often on the open market, and require a different methodology to arrive at an opinion of value.

How has the property inspection process changed due to Covid-19?

Of course, all of our inspections are Covid compliant, but it is the social aspect that I miss the most. Being able to shake somebody’s hand to introduce myself, accepting a cup of tea and having a good chat with somebody so that we can get a proper feel for the property. There’s much more urgency about getting in and out at the moment, which I will look forward to seeing the end of.

What advice do you have for buyers and sellers in today’s property market?

Be sensible in your financial decisions. We are seeing so many properties selling at or above the guide price. The market has shifted enormously in such a short period of time and we cannot be certain that it will remain there.

What key things would you say are most essential when it comes to HomeBuyer Reports?

Looking for hidden issues and trying to cross reference where these are coming from, and what their remedies are. To me, it’s important to view the property as a whole and I will always try to highlight any boundary, tenancy, or legal issues I may be able to foresee.

Why do you think Shropshire and Staffordshire has so much to offer in terms of characterful properties?

We are seeing some big moves into the area, with some of our clients relocating from as far as Kent, Bristol and The Wirral. I think the draw is smaller, friendly communities with plenty of green space following the period of enforced lockdown.

What would be your ideal property to live in?

My ideal property would be something modern but bespoke – with luxury fittings like a snazzy coffee machine!


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