One-on-one interview: Terry Holmes, Beresfords

Posted 13 October 2016 by Keith Osborne

Our ongoing series of interviews with senior figures in the new homes industry heads east of London to award-winning estate agency Beresfords...

This week exclusive interview is with Terry Holmes, who since becoming Beresford’s first full-time employee in 1981 has been at the forefront of the company’s progress as an estate agency with a strong department devoted to the new homes sector. Out of hours Terry enjoys sailing on the South Coast, attending concerts, and is a devoted family man who loves spending time with his two grandchildren.

Terry, please tell us a little about Beresfords.

Beresfords has established itself as an estate agency with a strong and professional base within Essex, Greater London and the surrounding areas. Their reputation as property advisers, with a highly regarded family brand, spans nearly 50 years. Today, Beresfords offers a range of property services, including residential sales and lettings, land and new homes, country and village homes, financial services, commercial property and surveying.

Beresfords has recently expanded its land and new homes team following record sales. In the past 12 months Beresfords has agreed sales on over £95m-worth of new homes. The growth in sales has been driven by increasing demand for property in the area, as well as a lack of housing stock. Beresfords has expanded the team to enhance its dedicated bespoke services to search out development opportunities and to market the sale of new homes.

The company has helped tens of thousands of satisfied customers over the years and is multiple winners of leading industry awards, including being named Best Estate Agency in Essex three years running.

What developments is your newly expanded new homes division currently marketing?

Trueloves GrangeWe have a variety of new developments on our books at the moment. At one end of the market we have Oxney Mews a new development in Writtle of one-bedroom apartments to exclusive luxurious new build homes at Woodlands in Edney Common and Langford Park in Langford near Maldon plus a magnificent development by CALA Homes at Trueloves Lane in Ingatestone. Here in Essex property prices vary from a one-bedroom apartment for £195,000 to a property at Trueloves Grange topping the £2m marker.

Are you looking into new areas for new homes developments or are you finding busier markets in the places you already know?

At the moment we’re looking at new areas as well as our core areas, but what we are noticing is a large increase from builders and developers requesting site appraisals; it’s definitely a very busy time.

Are you finding an increasing number of new, small housebuilding companies looking for your services?

Yes we are, and an increasing number of developers who we’ve worked with in the past are coming back to us. It’s a ripple effect, the more developments we market the more people come to us as we are recognised as a major player in the marketplace.

Is there a current "star" development that is performing particularly well and what is it about it that is attracting buyers?

We’ve got a couple of star developments at the moment, at different ends of the market. Woodlands in Edney Common near Chelmsford, Essex, is an exclusive luxury development consisting of 15 high-specification family homes offering a choice of four-, five- and six-bedrooms. The site has proved very popular, in fact there is only one property now that doesn’t have someone wanting to buy. In particular it has appealed to people looking to move to a new build with a country feel. This development won us Best East of England Development Marketing at the 2016 International Property Awards.

We’ve also been marketing 77, a new development in central Chelmsford; it’s an exclusive collection of one- and two-bedroom apartments and maisonettes. They’ve proven very popular thanks to their proximity to the city centre, walking distance to the train station and are close to the new Bond Street shopping centre including John Lewis which will open at the end of the month.

Have you found the increasing number of online/hybrid agencies to be a major source of competition or are traditional agency offices and services holding strong?

Online agencies have made little impact on the new build marketplace around here. Our developers look to us as specialists in our field in our geographic area, they work with us because they know we know the area inside out and that’s not something you can pick up from the web.

Developers will want to know inside knowledge on what mix of housing is required in an area, what house prices are doing, and what buyers are looking for – you only get that insight from working with clients on a day-to-day basis and that’s something an online agent just simply cannot offer.

Naturally developers come back to us to market their completed projects once we’ve secured the land deals but in addition we can offer a ‘High Street’ outlet for their developments. We’re also flexible enough to be able to accommodate them in our local office in advance of them being onsite.

Do you get a lot of enquiries about new homes available under Help to Buy and Shared Ownership schemes and are these widely available on the developments you offer?

Help to Buy has proven very popular and we’ve actively encouraged developers that haven’t yet adopted the scheme to start offering it to customers.

Do you hear from a lot of downsizers looking for low-maintenance new homes and are many of them keen on purpose-built retirement/age-exclusive property?

Danbury Palace​We have a lot of people looking to downsize at the moment. Pensions aren’t offering people what they hoped for, so many of our customers are downsizing from more expensive properties, including country homes, to free up funds and purchasing a lower priced new build which offers low maintenance and cheaper energy bills.

One of our developments, Danbury Palace, an exclusive gated development of unique stylish apartments in the original house together with mews and new houses set in the stunning grounds, has proven very popular with downsizers as it has retained its historic charm, and offers the ultimate luxurious lifestyle where someone else will cut the communal grass and keep the place pristine. There’s even a dedicated concierge on hand to help, and can organise the hire of the Estate’s tennis courts for you to enjoy a set or two with friends and family. Plus, the development has its own video entry phone and vehicle recognition system ensuring the Danbury Palace Estate remains as private and secure as it can be. 

I also think there’s been a shift in lifestyles where people used to hang onto their property but now they’re more interested in living their lives to the full, and freeing up some of their assets to pay to travel or enjoy far flung holidays.

Are you optimistic that the housebuilding industry can ever build enough homes to meet demand?

In a nutshell, no! Unfortunately we haven’t been building enough homes to meet demand since the 1970s. Successive governments have tinkered with policies to try and alleviate the situation, but I think planning policy, costs and shortage of land simply exacerbates the problem.

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