Posted 31 December 2015 by Keith Osborne
In our final interview of 2015, we head to South Wales to speak to Barratt Homes’ regional sales diorector Richard Lawson, who gives us his insight into the local new homes market and Barratt’s activity in this part of the principality.
Richard, please tell us a bit about yourself and Barratt Homes in Wales.
I’ve been working for Barratt Homes since 2000 and have worked through the company in various different sales roles until I became sales director of South Wales at the start of 2012. Barratt in South Wales has traded since 1986 and has been a very successful division.
How was the market in 2015 and what do you see happening in 2016?
The market has been strong in 2015 due to high demand, record-low mortgage rates and positive news on stamp duty. Help to Buy Wales has really given first-time buyers a chance to buy with a relatively small deposit and affordable monthly payments. Existing homeowners have also made great use of our part exchange scheme which takes the hassle and worry out of selling your home and enables you to get the home you want on our new development.
I predict further growth in 2016 as conditions will remain similar; low interest rates, continued government-backed support and great schemes to help people achieve the goal of buying their dream home.
What are your current "star" developments?
We have a few star performers and among those setting records is Horizon Walk, Lougher, where we are heading towards the end of a site where we’ve struggled to keep up with demand in this popular area.
Reflections @ The Quays, Barry has proven incredibly popular, almost selling out six months in advance. You really need to act quickly here if you’re to get a five-star home when they are released!
Despite the fact we’ve only recently started moving people in, Riverview @ Jubilee Park, Rogerstone has also taken reservations well into 2016. We’ve had to draft in extra build offices and teams to keep up with the demand!
You support the recent extension of Help to Buy Wales - is there anything about the scheme you would change to make it even more effective?
If I’m honest I wouldn’t change anything about the scheme, except to ensure that more people knew about it! Those that have taken advantage have realised that it makes so much sense to buy with a more realistic deposit and on a lower loan-to-value, ensuring they get the best mortgage rates and the cheapest monthly payments.
Are schemes such as Help to Buy Wales and Part Exchange important to many of your customers?
Absolutely. Over half of our customers last year used either Help to Buy or part exchange to get their dream home. At a time when everyone is looking to save money and cut costs both these schemes allow you do this while still buying your new home. The reduced mortgage costs of Help to Buy and the fact that you can sell your home without paying costly agents fees is really appealing to people.
What do you think attracts buyers to a Barratt home over the competition?
There are lots of reasons. We have really well-designed homes and developments using Building For Life principles; developments in great locations across South Wales where people want to live; a great-quality product that is built to last; and customer service that I believe is second to none. All of this is why we have achieved five-star rating from the House Builders Federation for six years in a row. This level of consistent customer satisfaction speaks volumes and I’m sure this is taken into account when people are looking across a wide range of house builders as it offers security and peace of mind.
Are most of your customers local owner-occupiers and would you say your Welsh developments have something to offer the investor or second-home buyer from elsewhere in the UK?
Most of our customers are owner-occupiers but there are certainly astute investors who have taken advantage of recent pension changes to invest in property in South Wales. Our development at Copper Quarter in Swansea has attracted many of these investors due to the high rental demand and monthly yields.
Due to the beautiful Welsh scenery there are also options for second-home buyers from around the country, and many who have previously lived in Wales that know the warm, welcoming and friendly people choose to return to the principality or keep a base here. Our upcoming site at Ogmore-by-Sea is a fantastic example of a stunning development on the glorious Welsh Heritage Coastline which has attracted this kind of interest already.
What developments are in the pipeline for 2016?
2016 is an exciting year for us and we’ve got lots of new developments in great locations.
Bryn Castell in Bridgend is located close to the centre of Bridgend and offers a good range of properties for first-time buyers and second movers alike.
Tathana’s Court in St. Athan is a lovely development in this semi-rural village in the Vale of Glamorgan with good links to Cardiff Airport and the city.
Sutton Chase in Ogmore-by-Sea, as already mentioned, has got some fantastic views across the estuary and offers a real rural retreat, but within the reach of Bridgend.
We’re really excited about the year ahead and look forward to moving our customers into these great homes in great locations!