One-on-one interview: Ingrid Skinner of Taylor Wimpey Central London
Marc Da Silva continues his series of interviews with senior figures in the UK property industry by posing the questions to Ingrid Skinner, managing director of Taylor Wimpey Central London.
How are your existing developments in West Hampstead, Highbury & Islington, Tufnell Park, Camden and Kensington progressing? Taylor Wimpey Central London had such a successful year in 2013, having completed two developments; The Mill Apartments in West Hampstead and The Junction in Tufnell Park.
Our other active sites, including Mulberry Mews in Highbury & Islington, Regent Canalside in Camden Town and Argyll Place in North Kensington are progressing well and likely to complete on schedule. We have been extremely pleased with impressive sales activity at all developments, having seen great interest from a wide range of buyers including both owner-occupiers and buy-to-let investors.
What other schemes do you have in the pipeline? We have embarked on a number of other developments, including a luxury apartment complex in the heart of London, St Dunstan's Court on Fetter Lane. This offers buyers a really fantastic opportunity to secure an apartment in such a unique location, as it is within close proximity of the City, West End and River Thames yet has the benefit of a spectacular outlook onto Maughan Library (King's College's Library) and benefits from a private garden. As you would expect, sales interest has already been extremely strong.
We also recently began on sizeable developments in Ladbroke Grove and Westminster and have recently acquired schemes in Battersea and Southwark which are planned to commence this year.
What type of home by Taylor Wimpey Central London is proving most popular with buyers? Taylor Wimpey Central London is dedicated to only developing on the very best sites available to us and the type of property that we build is unique to each specific locale - it is therefore very difficult to specify a generic preference. For instance, North Kensington is a popular area for families and so Argyll Place is particularly attractive as it offers rare new-build townhouses and mews properties as opposed to an apartment scheme.
Our main priority is to deliver homes that meet our buyers' needs and this means that all properties will be of a very high specification, close to transport links and community facilities such as shops and schools, and offer as much outdoor space as possible. We carefully plan the mix of homes and the design of each development to ensure we meet the needs of our expected customers in the area and also make the most of the limited space available in the capital. This means most of our properties include balconies, while at some developments we have been able to create lush green roof terraces and build around communal courtyard gardens.
How much does a new home by Taylor Wimpey Central London cost to buy? Prices for a Taylor Wimpey Central London home vary, depending on the development, its location and the type of property purchased. Buyers were able to secure a sophisticated apartment at The Junction from around £350,000, while a large five-bedroom townhouse at Argyll Place is currently on the market for just under £4m. We make sure we price competitively for each area, whilst ensuring the price still reflects the quality of our homes.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new-build home as opposed to older property? There are numerous benefits when buying new-build property; not least the fact that they generally require less maintenance, have brand new appliances, kitchens and bathrooms, are more eco-friendly and have lower running costs than older properties.
Importantly though, the design of a new-build home is often more practical for modern living than an older property, as they are designed with the contemporary buyer in mind with open-plan kitchen and living rooms, brand new appliances and clever in-built storage solutions. If buyers of older properties wish to renovate and modernise their homes, they will often face great stress and expense alongside the overall challenges associated with the planning and build process.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? The answer to this question is very dependent on the individual concerned and their personal circumstances. There can be great benefits to buying property off-plan. During the construction process, buyers have first refusal of their preferred plot and can often negotiate with developers to customise their chosen property, including changing the layout or floor plans, such as was possible at Argyll Place in North Kensington at an early stage of the process. Many buyers prefer to secure a property earlier in order to benefit from potential capital appreciation - although it is important of course to note that this very much depends on an individual's view of the market, financial situation and their personal view of risk in this regard.