Marc Da Silva continues his run of interviews with some of the biggest names in UK housebuilding by speaking to Simon Bennett, sales and marketing director at Stewart Milne Homes.
Where in the North West of England does your division cover?
Taking into account existing developments and target areas for future growth, Stewart Milne Homes North West spans Lancashire, the Cheshire market towns, the high employment areas of Greater Manchester and Flintshire, North Wales.
What are housing market conditions currently like in those areas?
Demand has certainly improved in recent months but not as yet to the levels the South East of England is experiencing. However, we are actively building our land portfolio within our target areas, especially within Cheshire and South Manchester where demand is healthy.
This uplift has been fuelled by low mortgage rates, improved consumer confidence and the continued availability of Help to Buy which makes mortgages more accessible to those unable to save a sizeable deposit amount.
What types of properties is your firm developing?
Stewart Milne Homes prides itself on creating quality homes designed for the modern family and to the highest standards. We keep a careful eye on detail to ensure we meet our customers' needs and lifestyle requirements. In North West England we are developing schemes close to good schools, commuter access routes and family orientated amenities. These developments have traditional two-storey family homes at their cores, with different home styles offering between three- to six-bedrooms.
We have just launched a new home type specifically for North West developments following extensive customer research. The Aston is a new entry level home for first time buyers and young families, offering ample living space across two levels and all the accommodation on the one level to further suit young families.
What projects are Stewart Milne Homes working on and what's in the development pipeline?
We are currently operating from six developments and have two new schemes launching later this year in Mold, North Wales, and Davenham, Cheshire.
Our existing developments range from Jersey Fields in Middlewich, a selection of traditional two-, three- and four-bedroom family homes to Regents Park in Nantwich, a bespoke collection of family homes designed in keeping with the town's unique style which launched in May.We also have developments in Marple, Chorley, Euxton and Sandbach.
How much does a new home by Stewart Milne Homes typically cost to buy?
Stewart Milne Homes creates aspirational homes with plenty of choice to suit homebuyers' needs and tastes in secure and much sought after locations across the North West of England.
Our currently released homes range in price from £158,950 for an Aston, a two-storey mews home with three-bedrooms, at Jersey Fields in Middlewich, right through to £548,950 which will secure a large two-storey Millwood home type with five-bedrooms and three-bathrooms, complete with detached double garage at Mill Green, Marple.
The majority of homes are our developments are also available from a 5% deposit using the government's Help to Buy scheme.
Why should more buyers consider buying a new build home as opposed to older property?
New homes are specifically designed for modern living - they often have a downstairs WC, separate utility rooms, en-suite bathrooms and open-plan kitchen/dining rooms which act as the hub of the home. Other popular features include Jack and Jill bathrooms, walk-in-wardrobes and double garages.
Buying a new Stewart Milne Home provides buyers with a cost effective living solution and every home type has been ‘‘live-in' tested, refined and enhanced to ensure it meets the needs and desires of our home owners. New homes are inherently maintenance minimal and using modern building techniques and materials for building and insulation results in lower energy and heating bills.
Above all, it is a wonderful feeling to be the first to live in a new home, to make your own mark on it for you, your family and future generations.
Is it worth buying property during the off-plan stage of construction?
Buying off-plan is definitely worthwhile as it lets buyers personalise their home before completion. They can add their own personality to the property by choosing their own units and worktops, wardrobes and vanities and often have the option of including a wall at their discretion to create a dedicated dining room or an open-plan kitchen / diner. Buyers can also add utilities like plug points exactly where they are needed.
Furthermore, buying off-plan enables the home buyer to secure their favourite plot - perhaps with views over nearby countryside or the shortest walk to town. Some see buying off plan as an investment: in the time between settling the deposit and moving in, house prices will hopefully have risen in the area and homes gone up in value.
What is Stewart Milne Homes' USP?
Stewart Milne Homes builds family homes of quality in only the very best locations. We are proud of our Home Builders federation 5 star Customer Satisfaction status and the fact that we are one of a very few select home builders boasting a customer recommendation level of over 95%. We believe quality is everything.
Which of the developments Stewart Milne Homes is currently developing do you think stands the best chance of winning a What House? Award?
Regents Park, Nantwich, will be a strong contender within the ‘Best Landscape Design' category. The bespoke collection of 59 family homes has been designed around the distinctive character of the unique market town and really makes the most of the tree lined space.
Each home in the development boasts scenic views of the Regents Theological College and gardens perfect for families. A large focal green is the heart of the development and further open greens are linked throughout Regents Park. The elevations are bespoke to this scheme, with design references and elevation appearances in keeping with the historic local vernacular.