One-on-One interview: Rachel Carroll of Solas Development Services
In the next part of his ongoing series of interviews with senior figures in the new homes industry, Marc Da Silva speaks to Rachel Carroll, marketing and business development executive for Solas Development Services.
What regions do you cover? We offer new homes in the South East of England.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? They are buoyant. Whilst there are pockets of deprivation, house prices continue to rise against a lack of housing supply versus population growth. It is certainly good for those who own homes and have equity, but spiralling residential property prices are leading to the social exclusion of many - especially the younger generation.
What types of properties is your firm developing? Solas Development Services develops properties for a range of clients. We have built homeless shelters, affordable homes for registered providers, luxury family homes, mansions and large-scale luxury apartment schemes. We are currently considering building a fire station. Give us a challenge, we'll build it!
What projects are Solas Development Services working on and what is in the development pipeline? We are nearly complete on project managing the build for The Marque in Cambridge, and have a new site in central Cambridge for 75 luxury apartments about to break ground. In addition, we are housebuilding all over the region for a registered provider client.
How much does a new-build property by Solas Development Services typically cost to buy? Given that we build across a range of asset classes it's hard to give an average. Last year we delivered some shared ownership homes in central Cambridge whereby a purchaser could get on the property ladder for around £75,000. However, we also delivered a project for a developer where the average home was £2m. So somewhere in the middle!
Why should more buyers consider buying a new-build home as opposed to older property? A new-build home benefits from technological advancements, and generally lower running costs given today's energy efficiency standards. You often also have the benefit of a building warranty for around ten years.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? Yes - if you do your homework and are willing to tie up capital for a limited amount of time. Areas of London and Cambridge are seeing such price appreciation gains that some investors are selling on properties bought in the early-stage of development for higher prices at completion. There is also the advantage of working with the developer in some instances to tailor-make aspects of the build to your own personal tastes and desires - much as we are doing with the penthouse at The Marque in Cambridge.
What is Solas Development Services' USP? We are an experienced boutique of property professionals who work with clients for a solutions-orientated approach. Clients are guaranteed personal involvement from Directors of the firm and exemplary customer service.
Which of the developments Solas Development Services is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a WhatHouse? Award? We are really excited about The Marque. It occupies a landmark position within Cambridge and is the tallest residential building in the city. The architectural design was forged through links with the University's Department of Architecture and features a unique ‘living screen' on the façade of the tower, as well as the city's first open air viewing platform where we will display the development's public art contribution. The apartments are on average 20% larger than those you find elsewhere in the city, with compelling design enhancements to give a truly luxurious feel. The Marque has been a huge hit with local purchasers, and although we are just reaching completion the development is nearly entirely sold out. A great result!