One-on-one interview: Darren Jones of Miller Homes
We continue our weekly series of interviews with some of the UK housebuilding industry’s key figures by posing the questions to Darren Jones, area managing director for Milller Homes Midlands and South.
Where is your firm developing new homes? Miller Homes Midlands and South naturally covers a large geographical area. We are as far north as Chesterfield and as far south as Fareham, with new developments opening shortly at Crawley Down, Gilston, Bracklesham, Mackworth, Market Harborough & Knowle.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? We are enjoying high levels of activity at all of our developments at the moment. The key is understanding the market you are selling to in any given area before you embark on your planning journey. This approach, coupled with the availability of mortgages at reasonable rates, is the recipe for good sales.
The government’s Help to Buy initiative has clearly played a large part in stimulating the market and we very much welcome its recent extension and the confidence such a scheme provides.
What types of properties is your firm developing? Given the large geographical area, we cover the complete spectrum – from one-bed starter homes to five-bed executive detached family homes. As mentioned previously, the location and local market will ultimately determine the appropriate mix.
What projects are Miller Homes working on and what's in the development pipeline? We are generally working on non-consortium based sites and working hard to grow our position, particularly in the South. The teams in both the Midlands and South have enjoyed some great success recently bidding in the open market and converting our many strategic opportunities; and as a consequence of this very nearly all of the land required to fulfil our current expansion appetite is either secured or identified.
How much does a new home by Miller Homes typically cost to buy? The geographical spread mentioned above clearly plays a large part in this, however the average selling price for a Miller Home in the South is £280,000 and £215,000 in the Midlands.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new-build home as opposed to older property? One of the main benefits of buying a new-build home is the reduction of energy consumption and therefore bills. It also removes the uncertainty and risk often associated with buying an older property which will inevitably require some form of work to be undertaken. Customers also have the peace of mind of a ten-year warranty.
Ultimately we are able to provide a buying experience which the second hand market cannot compete with. This gives customers confidence during what can be a very stressful time.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? It certainly is. This gives customers the opportunity to personalise their homes and not miss cut-off dates for adding the extras we offer. We do, though, need to be mindful of the expiry of mortgage offers, particularly as the mortgage market continues to move.
What is Miller Homes’ USP? Our USP is ‘The Miller Difference’ - and we ensure every customer experiences it. Encapsulating our commitment to quality, innovation and care throughout the entire customer journey; The Miller Difference pledges trust, raised standards, and keeping customers involved at every step of the way. It reinforces our long-standing ethos of creating great communities for future generations and of simply creating a better place.
We appreciate buying a home is one of the most important decisions anyone will make and we want to ensure they look back on the experience with delight.