This week. Marc Da Silva continues his series of interviews with senior figures in the new homes industry by posing the questions to Helen Rollason, sales manager for regional housebuilder Walton Homes.
What regions do you cover? We have sites all over the Midlands, including Greater Birmingham, Staffordshire, Derbyshire Warwickshire and Leicestershire.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? I would say that market conditions right across the UK are mixed and the Midlands housing market is just the same. But there is a feeling of positivity in the marketplace, with construction in the Midlands up by over 7% on last year and a steady 5% rise in house prices nationally. The effect of the government's scheme, Help to Buy, is also undeniable in that we are seeing more and more first-time buyers visiting our developments looking to take advantage of the scheme each week.
As a local family housebuilder, we carefully consider the product mix, house designs and the location of our developments to ensure that we are meeting the needs of local people - whether that is contemporary apartments on commuter lines, or substantial family homes in a rural location.
What types of properties is your firm developing? We offer a real mix of properties for people at every stage of the property ladder. In the last year, we have delivered a range of one-bedroom studio apartments, two-bedroom bungalows, mixed-use town centre schemes and developments offering three- and four-bedroom family homes, as well as substantial five-bedroom properties.
In the last few weeks we have started construction and are now well underway on a one-off bespoke home in Lysways Way, Longdon Green - recently listed as one of the top desirable postcodes in the Midlands - which offers something quite unique to the marketplace. We already have a number of interested parties on our database for this home alone.
How much does a new home by Walton Homes cost to buy? With properties to suit every budget, our homes start in price from £74,950 for a one-bedroom studio apartment, or £59,960 under Help to Buy, with a deposit of £3,748, up to £425,000 for a substantial five-bedroom family home at our Squires Gate development - made up of just two luxury properties.
We also offer a variety of homes designed to suit second-steppers and growing families, including our best seller, the three-bedroom ‘Ebington' house, which is priced from £159,950, or £127,960 under Help to Buy.
Is your company currently offering any incentives or discounts to homebuyers? As a family housebuilder, Walton Homes is committed to helping people in the Midlands to get onto, and move up the property ladder. We currently offer a range of schemes across our developments including part-exchange, which allows people to purchase a Walton Homes property and sell their own homes quickly - without the hassle of chains falling through below - as we will sell the property for them through our agents.
We also offer the government's Help to Buy scheme, under which people can purchase a home with a deposit of just five per cent. Homeowners will only need to secure a mortgage for 75% of the property's value, as the government provides the funds for the additional 20%, to be repaid at a later date. Help to Buy is available across all our developments including our larger homes up to the £600,000 threshold, meaning that it's easier for growing families to move up the ladder too.
As a family housebuilder, we are in a unique position in that we are not bound to the same restraints that many larger PLCs are, so we can tailor deals according to the needs of the purchaser. We offer a number of ‘hot plots' across our developments, where homes are advertised for sale at a lower price for a limited time, as well as offering incentives such as paying the stamp duty and legal fees on a new property or fitting flooring for free. Although it might seem like a small token, the savings on legal fees and stamp duty alone can save purchasers over £10,000 in fees.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new-build home as opposed to older property? There are many reasons why people should buy a new home, but the key one would be a lack of maintenance required with new homes, and the peace of mind that brings.
What many people don't realise when they buy an older property is that the homes will almost always need some form of renovation work in order to bring the property up to homeowner's own tastes and standards of living, whether that's basic decorating and new kitchens and bathrooms, or major jobs such as a new heating system or UPVC windows.
When buying a new property you remove that added cost as everything is brand new, plus new homes are a blank canvas for people to put their own individual stamp on! All our new homes come with a 10-year NHBC warranty and are built with added insulation to ensure that homes retain heat - helping keep energy bills lower than in an older property.
Is it worth buying a property during the off-plan stage of construction? It definitely is. People who purchase from-plan will have the first choice on preferred plots within the development, ensuring that they secure the slightly larger garden or the best views!
Early purchasers are also able to play an active involvement in the whole process, watching their homes being built from the ground up on-site, as well as being able to work with the team to pick their own fixtures and fittings, putting their own individual stamp on their new home.