One-on-one: Denise Stewart, Antler Homes
Our ongoing series of interviews with senior executives from the British housebuilding industry continues this week in the Home Counties, and the views of Denise Stewart, sales and marketing director of award-winning Antler Homes.
Hi Denise, please tell us a little about yourself and Antler Homes.
I joined Antler Homes in December 2015. My ethos has always been to deliver a high level of customer satisfaction and my approach is to hand over homes that I’d be happy for members of my own family to live in. This philosophy combined with the superbly designed properties Antler produce is, I hope, a really appealing combination for our customers.
Where are you currently offering new homes for sale?
We currently have developments across Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset. Being based in central Surrey, means we are able to service this area very well.
Is there a typical Antler new home and what can buyers expect to find at one of your developments?
We do tend to build limited editions rather than standard house types. Having said that there are a number of design features we insist are in all our designs. It is important our properties are functional as well as beautiful!
Do you currently have a "star" performing development and why is it doing so well?
I am a strong believer in the right product in the right location being the key to success on any development. If I had to pick one site in particular at the moment I would say Forest Grove at The Limes in Warfield, Berkshire. I think it is the combination of beautifully designed, good-sized accommodation coupled with the fact it is a small development with access directly on to Westmorland Park.
How have the local property markets been in your areas and where are they heading this year?
There are always highs and lows within the housing market. The advantage of being one of the smaller housebuilders is that we are able to adapt and change quickly to market fluctuations. We are still seeing a strong demand for good-quality, spacious new homes in the locations we are currently working in.
Do visitors to your show homes see the benefits of new build and the value-for-money new homes offer for themselves, or is there an element of persuasion for many?
We are in a very privileged position at Antler in as much as we have a number of loyal customers looking to move from their existing Antler home to another Antler home. Generally speaking, I don’t think the majority of buyers distinguish between new homes and resales in their initial property search. I think people look for well-designed homes in the right location, and we believe our homes deliver this combination. I am privileged to have a very professional sales team here at Antler who have a high level of technical knowledge about our homes. This ensures our customers come away with a good understanding about the finer details that goes into an Antler home.
Recently, we have been pleased to see the Home Builders Federation has been working hard over the last few months raising the profile of new homes and highlighting the benefits with some innovative marketing campaigns.
Have buyer expectations for specification and design changed much in recent years and do you often review your offering to keep up with buyer demands?
I think we are in the midst of a technological revolution and keeping up with the latest trends is a must. It’s the source of many discussions at design review meetings! It’s surprising to think that the first mobile apps started appearing in 2008 and now we are using them to automate our homes, buy shopping and even call a cab. It is a very exciting time for housebuilders and we have a senior director specifically responsible for bringing all manner of innovations to the management team for consideration.
What separates Antler from the crowd in today's housing market?
Our motto “Strictly Limited Editions” is something I think really sets us apart from mainstream housebuilders. We are one of only a handful of housebuilders to have a full in-house design team. Their experience designing our homes means we now have a bank of ‘Antler design items’ that we ensure are incorporated into new designs going forward. As well as a beautifully designed home, this also provides Antler with a distinct brand identity.