One-on-one interview: Geeta Nanda, Thames Valley Housing
Marc Da Silva continues his weekly series of interviews with senior figures from the UK property industry with Geeta Nada, chief executive at Thames Valley Housing (TVH), who was awarded an OBE in 2013 for her services to social housing in London and the South East of England.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? Within our area, the housing market is extremely busy. We have seen strong demand for all of our tenures. Although we have seen supply increase over the past year or so, much of this has been focused in particular areas with very limited supply of mid- to lower-quartile priced housing stock. Greater consumer confidence, resulting from an improving economy and lower priced mortgage rates, has helped fuel additional demand. In summary, the mismatch in supply versus demand is continuing to fuel house price inflation.
What impact is Help to Buy having on the market? Help To Buy has provided a welcomed focus on the difficulties of many in accessing the housing market. We’ve seen much of the resulting output furthering an increase in demand; its effect on leveraging additional supply is less pronounced. We have not seen any impact on the demand for initiatives such as shared ownership as the income thresholds for both are distinct.
What types of properties is your firm selling? Both large apartment schemes as well as smaller mixed housing developments, incorporating apartments and a range of two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom houses providing homes for shared ownership and private sale.
How much does a new home by TVH typically cost to buy? Typical shared ownership homes in areas such as Surrey and Berkshire usually start from a minimum of a 40% share costing around £100,000. In London, homes start from £120,000 for a 35% share. The all-in cost of rent, mortgage and service charge is normally at least 10% below the cost of renting a similar property in the area.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new build home as opposed to older property? New homes are built to modern standards which dictate every aspect from the size of the property through to thermal efficiency and security. This usually means the home will be cheaper to run as well as easier to maintain. Equally, as the home has been designed to suit modern lifestyles it is more likely to fit in with the way people want to use their home. All of our homes come fully carpeted with all the necessary kitchen appliances included.
This makes the whole moving experience easier to manage and helps manage a lot of those extra costs which can rack up when moving house. All our new homes also benefit from a 12-year insurance policy, this helps give peace of mind should something go wrong.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? Buying off-plan usually means you have more choice in terms of the home you want to buy and the final finish and specification. Most importantly you will also normally benefit from buying at the current market value of your home. During periods where the house prices are increasing you will often benefit from a rise in the value of your home between the point you sign up and the time you move in. It is really important to properly consider the floor plans and the detail and not just rely on the design of the show home to make sure you get a proper sense of the space and layout of the home you are interested in buying.
What is TVH’s USP? Innovation is at the heart of what we do, bringing new ways of funding development through creative partnerships, such as our joint venture with Galliford Try/Opal Land, and new products and services to a growing market, such as the private rented sector. TVH has always had an intense involvement with the needs of the intermediate housing market. We have stuck to these principals whilst at the same time widening our offer in line with market changes.
Which of the developments TVH is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a WhatHouse? Award? We are just putting the finishing touches to our Russell Square development in Horley, Surrey, where we’ve developed 90 homes for a mix of shared ownership and affordable rent as well as 1,100sqm of commercial space. Our development is making a significant contribution towards the regeneration of the town centre. Located moments from both the main shopping area and train station, it provides a great balance for people wanting to live in the Surrey countryside but benefit from all the convenience of local facilities and an easy commute to London or Brighton.