This week, Marc Da Silva heads east to continue his ongoing series of interviews with senior figures in the new homes industry, posing the questions to Adrian Bohr, managing director of Linden Homes Eastern.
What regions does you division cover? We cover the Eastern region which stretches across Hertfordshire, Essex, Cambridge and the East and North East quadrant of London with our new upcoming developments.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? Now is a good time for house hunters to get serious about securing their home as the market is springing back to life and Help to Buy is giving a hand up. Circa 40% of or sales utilise Help to Buy and a significant number of these are first-time buyers, with the average selling price below £250,000.
Help to Buy has been a key enabler for those looking for a property and we have seen a boost in sales as a result. The recent further extension to the scheme until the end of the decade for new-build homes will help to build confidence and will help so many more people to get moving.
For people who want to move, even if you don't have a large deposit, there's never been a better opportunity to step onto or climb the property ladder.
What types of properties is your firm developing? Linden Homes is the sixth largest housebuilder in the UK and the model we use is very much design-led and doesn't rely on a standard house-type range. This model has been well recognised and has resulted in a number of design awards and nominations. We offer quality houses and apartments to suit every buyer profile to include first-time buyers, second steppers and downsizers across a range of carefully selected locations - whether city, town or country.
What projects are Linden working on and what's in the development pipeline? We are currently selling a range of properties at Northfields in Colchester, Pentlows Meadow in Braughing, Hertfordshire, Newhall Edge in Harlow and Burntwood Square in Brentwood.
Linden Homes Eastern's head office is based in Chelmsford so we are very proud to be working on the St John's development which is the former hospital of the area. This site consists of both new and old buildings that have been preserved by Linden Homes and given a new lease of life. We have also recently received planning permission for a second development in Chelmsford to add to our profile in this exciting new City.
We have two developments in the early stages both based in London. Shortly, we will be starting work in conjunction with the Mayor of London to regenerate the St Clements Hospital site on Mile End Road, Bow which will include the delivery of London's first urban Community Land Trust regeneration project of the St Clements Hospital site on Mile End Road. Our Allen Court Regeneration scheme in Sudbury Hill, Ealing, will complete the first phase in the summer this year and Phase two will be launched for sale in 2015. Linden Homes is looking to extend its reach in the capital in the coming months and years so these are exciting times for us.
How much does a new home by Linden typically cost to buy? A one-bedroom apartment at our Northfields development in Colchester is priced from £129,500 with a four-bedroom terrace priced at £269,995. In comparison, a two-bedroom apartment at our St John's development in Chelmsford is priced from £259,995 and a three-bedroom house starts from £357,000.
At the higher end of the spectrum a four-bedroom detached property at Pentlows Meadow in Braughing costs £940,000. There is also one four-bedroom semi-detached property remaining at the Burntwood Square development in Brentwood which is priced at £599,950 therefore eligible for the Help to Buy scheme.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new build home as opposed to older property? Buying a brand new home often means you can move in straight away to a building that is virtually maintenance free. There should be no time-consuming, expensive DIY projects. Every Linden Home has a ten-year NHBC build warranty and two year customer care warranty - both of which come as standard. Our kitchens are already fully fitted with guaranteed appliances too.
While an older property might have lots of character, it may also cause lots of problems, not least the problem of how to efficiently heat it. Current building regulations mean new homes are six times more energy efficient than existing homes and produce over 60% less CO₂ emissions than older properties. Translated into money, this means homeowners can enjoy savings of more than £500 each year on their energy bills - a significant saving given the increasing cost of utilities.
It's also fair to say that the buying process for a new home tends to be much less complicated as there is no forward chain on the purchase. This gives you more certainty, less stress and no risk of a deal falling through from no fault of your own. Help to Buy, I am sure will continue to help more people to buy their first or next home - even with the government loan or mortgage guarantee, it is still a big investment, so they need to ensure they are buying the right home.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? Some people may have the impression that buying off-plan holds an element of risk however we belief that this is not the case as there are several advantages to buying a home that hasn't yet been built. At Linden Homes we will talk our customers through the entire process so they know what is happening. They can even come and see various stages of the build in progress. And buying off-plan gives you flexibility in the finish of the home because to some extent you can get involved in how it is completed - as you may be able to choose your kitchen and your tiles, for example.
For our extremely popular, smaller developments it also ensures that customers secure the home that they want, before they are all reserved.
What is Linden's USP? Linden Homes is an award-winning housebuilder and we pride ourselves in specialising in high-quality, bespoke schemes. We are also leading the way in sustainable construction with our flagship development, Graylingwell in Chichester which is the UK's largest zero-carbon scheme that picked up gold for Best Sustainable Development at last year's WhatHouse? Awards.
Which of the developments Linden is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a WhatHouse? Award this year? We are currently working on the UK's first ever urban Community Land Trust at the St Clement's development at Mile End in the East End of London.
Once the project is complete Linden Homes, working with the East London Community Land Trust, will have transformed the derelict area into a new neighbourhood of 252 homes, a third of which will be affordable.
Work is due to start soon and once the build is complete a truly unique urban environment will have been created from the dereliction of the former uses; the freehold will be handed over to the community. It is the first time it has ever been done in a UK city and I'm hopeful that WhatHouse? will share our excitement with this new project.