Experience of combat and peace-keeping operations in Belfast, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan with the Queen’s Royal Lancers regiment, ensures that Middleton advisor Ben Horne fully understands the meaning of the word pressure, so don’t expect him to show too many signs of stress when the heat of negotiating a prime property deal is turned up. But when he transacted seven properties across Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset in 2015 – one of Middleton’s busiest years – Ben had to apply the full range of skills that he acquired across a career in the armed forces and the property business.
“I learned a lot about the skill of judging conditions where the stakes are high, says Ben, “and there are always moments in business where it’s essential to remain calm and clear-headed.”
After attending the Royal Agricultural College and growing up surrounded by rolling countryside, a life in farming could well have been Ben’s calling, but he’s happy to acknowledge that farming is “too much like hard work, even compared to the army”.
“I built up a great network of contacts at college, and learned a lot that has been crucial to succeeding in the property business. What I really love about it, and particularly working for Middleton, is that we have a small number of clients and we have the opportunity to get to know them really well – which is essential if we’re to properly understand their aspirations. That means we also share some of that enjoyment when we find a dream property and help someone to acquire it. The other critical side to our business is inside knowledge. Half the properties that I transacted in 2015 never came to market, and that’s where an almost military approach to intelligence and information pays off.”
Ben has continued adding to his qualifications whilst working at Middleton, with a Master’s degree in land management from Harper Adams and an award-winning thesis on ‘Improving Energy Efficiency in Listed Buildings’.
“Listed buildings are exempt from having to produce an Energy Performance Certificate, which is understandable, but it also means that running costs can be much higher than they need to be. There are state-of-the-art, internet-connected controllers which can reduce running costs and help to make the most of investment in renewable energy sources such as biomass burners. These devices can be changed without any significant impact on the overall infrastructure, even of a listed property, and have tangible lifestyle and financial benefits.”
He’s also settled in the heart of Hampshire, the region that he specialises in for Middleton, with two sons, two dogs, hens, five beehives and his own supply of honey. “I spent many summers in Dorset when growing up, and usually lived in Hampshire and Wiltshire between army tours, so I have a really deep, instinctive knowledge of this part of the country. And if there’s anywhere that I don’t know so well, I can always draw on my experience in a reconnaissance regiment to dig out the information I need!”