One-on-one interview: John East of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward
John East, director for land and new homes at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, takes time out of his busy schedule to talk to Marc Da Silva.
Which regions do you cover? Our two Land and New Homes branches are strategically placed with one in Hammersmith, London, and another in Surrey Quays, so that we are able to sell land and new homes developments within Greater London while tapping into the KFH branch network of more than 50 offices across the Capital.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? We've noticed strong demand coming from all types of buyers across the board. The introduction of phase one of the government's Help to Buy scheme in April was predicted to have far-reaching effects, but in reality, here in London many of our schemes weren't offering it to purchasers and subsequently we didn't see a huge number of sales as a result.
On the other hand the new homes market in southeast London has soared, spurred on by renovation in areas including Peckham, Forest Hill, Bromley and Lee. Additionally the East London Line extension has seen many developers now look to build schemes nearby in the hope of benefiting from its success. Many areas in southeast London have grown in popularity not only because of the easy commute into the City but also because properties here tend to price quite a bit below those in other parts of the Capital. We recently marketed six townhouses in Crystal Palace where 50% of the flats were reserved off-plan, further proving that a well-located property within a regeneration area is in high demand.
Southwest London is also thriving, with areas like Tooting, Southfields and Wimbledon now benefiting from new homes. Well-known developers such as Bellway, along with some smaller names, are all launching schemes in the area. We are currently marketing a new development in Wimbledon Park called Ibex House which has seen 75% of all units reserved before the show flat was even open. The choice of studio, one-, two- and three-bed apartments, which start from £270,000, have been incredibly popular among buy-to-let investors, who like the ease that new-build offers and the scheme's location to Wimbledon Park underground station.
What types of new-build property is your firm selling? As a business, we primarily tend to focus on the middle market with the majority of our properties priced between £300,000 and £2m, which covers a very broad spectrum of the market. We are able to offer a range of new-builds from studio and one-bedroom flats to detached family homes in residential areas. In addition, the size of the developments that we handle also varies from smaller, boutique schemes right up to larger developments from some of the big-name housebuilders.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new-build home as opposed to older property? Most new homes these days are built to incredibly high standards and specification and we find that many buyers find the 10-year National House Building Council (NHBC) guarantee a very appealing option. In addition, our developer clients provide buyers with the latest in quality kitchen and bathroom designs and energy-efficient features, which will help to keep on-going costs at a minimum. Developers are required to build new homes using eco-friendly construction materials such as green roofs, which improve rainwater absorption into the ground, provide good sound insulation and improve the appearance of developments in green and rural areas so often there is also a significant long-term saving which can be made.
New homes also require the minimum amount of maintenance making them easy to look after and more conducive to a ‘lock-up-and-go' lifestyle. Developments are often built near good transport links and in regeneration areas and as a result tend to be popular among buy-to-let investors. The NHBC guarantee, which covers around 80% of new homes built in the UK has also given hesitant buyers more confidence when purchasing new builds.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? Yes of course, the benefits of buying at the off-plan stage of construction means that as a buyer, you are given more option to incorporate bespoke changes such as a kitchen, bathroom or flooring of your choice before the fit-out stage. In addition, purchasing in the early stages of the development allows buyers to handpick the best plots and often there are incentives or discounts that can make it an even more appealing option.
Have you noticed any particular trends recently? There are two trends that I have noticed recently. Firstly, the level of demand for our new homes has seen the number of off-plan reservations on new developments increase throughout the year. Secondly, there are certain pockets of London where developers are focusing construction due to the availability of land at a reasonable cost and the demand from buyers for that location. Tooting is one of these areas which has seen an uplift in the number of new developments, including Fusion by Bellway ,and we have just launched our most recent development at 158 Tooting High Street which is a boutique scheme of just 9 units very near to Tooting Broadway station. In southeast London, Forest Hill, Peckham and East Dulwich have also seen a higher volume of new-build units constructed and sold recently and we have recently launched a development of houses in this area at Talbot Mews with prices starting at around £690,000.
What is KFH's USP? Our biggest selling point is the fact that we are one of London's largest independent estate agencies with more than 50 offices and 650 employees distributed across London. In addition to offering a full scale sales and lettings offering, we have a range of additional dedicated services which include land and new homes, financial services, conveyancing, commercial property and survey.