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Northern Insight – The Big Interview

Saturday August 15, 2020

At an early age Damiano Rea realised he had won the lottery of life.
Born of Italian heritage to hard working owners of an Italian Restaurant and
living in Heaton, an area where he still lives and works. The restaurant was to
figure large in Damiano’s early life. At age seven he was decked out in a
pristine white shirt with dickie bow tie helping clear tables and run errands
for customers.

“Today my parents would have been arrested for child abuse and modern
slavery but back then it was common for children to help out in a family
business. Working in the restaurant gave me some of my happiest childhood
memories. At seven years old I was trusted, I had responsibilities and I was
helping the family enterprise. Our customers clearly liked the idea too, at
seven I was making more in tips than I ever did as restaurant manager in my
early twenties”.

Damiano attended the Royal Grammar School in Jesmond where he studied
music and quickly gravitated to the school orchestra. RGS would team up with
Newcastle University orchestra playing Mendelssohn and Handel to a discerning
classical music audience.

At this time a band leader called Johnny Taws was big on the north east
club circuit playing big band and swing music. Johnny was a friend of Damiano’s
parents and would play the piano in the restaurant with Damiano accompanying
him on bass. Contacts in the music industry led to Damiano being offered a
contract to tour with a professional band in Europe and South Africa.

“For a young man this was a dream job. We toured the northern hemisphere
in the summer and the southern hemisphere in the winter. For several years rain
and cold were an alien concept”.

Money earned from touring was enough for Damiano to start his property
portfolio and the intention was to put his properties in the hands of a
managing agent and continue with the band. But there was a problem. Damiano
quickly realised there was no lettings agency in the area specialising in
high-end lets for young professionals.

“In the late 90’s Heaton was still the land of the grotty student
bed-sit. I had a guiding principle that still underpins our business today. We
will never let a property we would not be prepared to live in ourselves. This
period marked the beginning of purpose build student and key worker
accommodation in Newcastle and the writing was on the wall for bed-sit land.
Since I could not find an agency that shared my vision, I left the band and setup
Heaton Property”.

Since then Heaton Property has gone from strength to strength, winning a
prestigious Sunday Times Lettings Agency of the Year award in 2014. In addition
to specialising in lettings for young professionals the agency boasts a
maintenance and refurbishment team and a specialist block management

Plans for expansion were temporarily put on hold during the Covid-19
lockdown but even this setback had minimal impact on the business. Systems
already in place allowed staffs to work from home and conduct virtual viewings
employing a specialist 360 degree camera.

As we emerge from the dark days of lockdown the future looks bright for
Heaton Property. Damiano concludes “It has been wonderful to watch the Heaton I
love transform itself over the years. From being the poor relation of posher
neighbours in Gosforth and Jesmond, Heaton is now a vibrant area with chic
restaurants and speciality shops. The demographic is predominantly young
professionals which means we are perfectly placed to offer them the high
standard of accommodation they require. Restaurant manager to professional
musician to lettings agency owner is not exactly a logical career path. But
there is a common thread and one which should apply to any enterprise. A happy
customer is the only customer to aim for”.

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I wish to thank you for all the hard work you have been putting in with regards to the management of our block. Living here myself, I have found everything running vastly better. I have received warm and appreciative comments from my neighbours also, congratulating the promptness and professionalism with which you have addressed their issues.

Dr J Jones – Resident Leaseholder

Quite possibly the best decision we made was to involve HPBM in the early stages of our development. The knowledge they have has been invaluable in getting our new block up and running smoothly whilst ensuring the leaseholders are happy with how things are run.

Mr P Smithson – Developer & Freeholder

I think I speak for the large majority of property owners when I say HPBM’s solutions made perfect sense. They put the needs of our tenants and us, as property owners at the forefront of their proposals.

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