One-on-one interview: Sara Parker of Carter Jonas
This week, Marc Da Silva continues his series of interviews with senior figures in the new homes industry with a few questions to Sara Parker, head of new homes at Carter Jonas.
Which regions do you cover? Carter Jonas has 25 offices across the UK, including five in prime Central London. Our new homes teams operate predominantly in Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, West Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Avon and Somerset - in areas where there is currently strong demand for increased housing supply.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas? Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire are always robust markets but we are busy in all of our areas this year, largely influenced by Help to Buy and the improved funding for mortgages.
What types of new-build property is your firm selling? We sell everything from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom penthouses, with key schemes currently including Parkway Living, The Racecourse Newbury and Martin Close.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new-build home as opposed to older property? The developers that we are working with have skilfully master-planned projects that offer not only great design, but also convenient and energy-efficient housing which will require very little maintenance for several years.
As the cost of living continues to soar, buyers are prioritising quality, durability and accessibility over the sentimental appeal of living in an older property.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction? Yes, buyers may well get to chose from a range of finishes to personalise their home, possibly have some input into some design elements and get to chose a particular plot by having the pick of the bunch, with a larger garden or sunny aspect.
For example, phase 2 at The Racecourse Newbury comprises one- and two-bedroom apartments. Eighteen homes were reserved off-plan on the release day, with one buyer even camping out overnight to secure his dream home.
How have you noticed any particular trends recently? Help to Buy is helping those with just 5% deposit buy a home. For example, at the launch at The Buttercross, Witney, Oxfordshire - a development of 106 two-, three- and four-bedroom houses - 20% of buyers bought through the Help to Buy scheme on the initial release.
We are also seeing that more small-scale investors who buy just one or two units are entering the market in greater numbers, mainly because they are disappointed with their pensions.
What is Carter Jonas' USP? Unlike several competitors selling new homes, Carter Jonas offers a complete service for developers - from the planning and development stages at conception; including architecture, master-planning and building consultancy; right through to selling the final product to homebuyers.
I have an excellent team of new homes specialists who all come from a housebuilder background. We are proud to offer our housebuilders and buyers the full benefit of our combined expertise and experience of the industry.
Which of the developments currently being marketed by Carter Jonas do you think stands the best chance of winning a What House? Award? I would have to say Parkway Living, Newbury, and DWH at The Racecourse, also in Newbury.