Lure Of London To Continue After Lockdown

Posted 20 November 2020 by Lizzie Leigh

Inland Homes’ MD, Gary Skinner, tells us why he believes the bright lights of London will continue to lure homebuyers long after lockdown…

Gary talks about the importance of agility within the business and how new homes in southern hotspots can still be affordable with the right help for buyers.

 

Gary, how long have you been with Inland Homes and how did your career in property development begin?

I joined Inland in February 2016. It was an exciting time to join – the number of homes Inland was building was increasing but we were still reliant on external contractors in the delivery of schemes. Since I joined, we’ve increased year-on-year the number of homes under construction to more than 1,700 today and we now have more control of the finished product – both in cost but also the quality of the product we deliver.

I started in the industry as a carpentry apprentice, then carpenter before joining George Wimpey as an assistant site manager, working my way up to production director. Before Inland, I was director of operations at Wilmott Dixon where I was responsible for the delivery of over 800 homes a year.

Inland Homes describes itself as being ‘an established land regeneration business’, what do you mean by this?

Inland’s success has been built on our ability to identify brownfield sites where we can add value. We have a 100% success rate in achieving planning permission on brownfield sites and have built up the in-house capability to transform these sites once planning is achieved. Brownfield sites often come with complex remediation challenges which we have the skills to resolve. The final piece in the puzzle of regeneration is the delivery of the homes themselves – the high-quality homes and the thriving communities we create. We aren’t a vanilla housebuilder that’s for sure.

You focus on building new homes in the south of England; how is the property market performing in the areas where you’re building?

We’ve experienced really strong demand across all sites since May when lockdown restrictions were eased, which is fantastic to see. Of course, some of this has been pent up demand from the first lockdown but it’s more sustained than just that. The Stamp Duty holiday is encouraging buyers who might have been sitting on the fence to make the move and schemes such as Help To Buy and new home incentives may also be playing a part. I might be biased but I think a large part is also due to the affordable and high-quality homes we deliver!

Has the pandemic changed what your buyers are looking for in a home?

We’re monitoring closely whether the ‘Great Pause’ will result in long-term changes to buyer’s wish-lists and preferred locations but it’s a little too early to tell definitively. We are seeing more demand for houses than apartments but this has been a trend for the last couple of years. There’s also been really high demand for our seaside developments in Southampton and Bournemouth, both from locals and those looking to move from further afield. We’ll keep monitoring the situation and adapt as needed to maximise the opportunities presented.

Do you see a time when the London ‘commuter belt’ becomes less attractive as a place to live, as people become less tied to a Monday-Friday commute to the capital?

I don’t think so. I think there will be a shift with more flexible working but that London – the bright city lights – will always appeal. What may change is what people look for in a home in these areas – such as study areas to accommodate working from home and some kind of outdoor space. We’re already looking at how we can adjust our layouts to accommodate those working from home, adjusting fit-outs to include study nooks for example.

What schemes are you marketing at the moment?

We have a number of developments with appeal to a range of buyers – from inner-city apartment living to family-friendly communities in parkland settings.

Our three most recent schemes to come to market are The Wessex in Bournemouth, Brackenwood at Wilton Park in Beaconsfield and Randalls in Uxbridge.

The Wessex is a landmark development of 94 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with easy access to Bournemouth’s very best facilities right on the doorstep - not least the world-famous sandy beach and pier which is just a short walk from the front door. These desirable new homes blend seamlessly with the Art Deco architectural heritage of the area while offering a high-specification finish with designer interiors. Prices at The Wessex start from £225,000.

Brackenwood at Wilton Park is a boutique collection of three- and four-bedroom refurbished homes located within the parkland setting of Wilton Park, Beaconsfield. Prices start from £750,000 for these homes which are perfect for families; with modern open-plan living areas, designer kitchens with integrated appliances and a separate utility room. Each home also features a generous front and rear garden, a garage and off-street parking.

This month, we released the first apartments at Randalls: Dalloway House, an exclusive collection of 16 one- and two-bedroom apartments. Integrating the iconic Art Deco facade of this Grade II listed former department store, Randalls is a stunning collection of one and two-bedroom apartments located within the heart of Uxbridge. Homes here are available from £365,000.

Our Chapel Riverside and Meridian Waterside schemes in Southampton continue to sell well too, particularly with first-time buyers. Homes here are close to the River Itchen and many offer water-front views. The city-centre with its shopping, restaurants and entertainment is within easy access too.

Are you offering any incentives to buyers at the schemes?

Yes, until the end of the year a Key Worker 1% discount is available. The government-backed Help to Buy Scheme is available too on most of our homes, meaning buyers only need a 5% deposit to secure their dream home.

What would your top tips be for people considering a new build property over a second-hand home?

You have to consider what’s right for your circumstances but for me, a new home wins every time. From the ease of not being in a chain, to moving into a brand-new home that’s designed with modern lifestyles in mind, there’s no competition to me. You can also rest easy when you’ve moved in – no worry about having to find the money to replace a broken-down boiler as all the fittings and fixtures will be brand new and covered by a two-year warranty too.

Where do you hope Inland Homes will be in ten years from now?

What this year has shown is that Inland is an adaptable business. We’ve got land acquisition, self build and partnership housing expertise and there’s sustained demand for what we do. I’d like to think that we will keep this agility as we continue to grow – it’s our greatest strength in my mind.

I see us continuing to grow and adapting to changing times in the next ten years, building on our reputation as a high-quality developer and contractor, delivering the best value to our shareholders and maintaining a great work environment for all our staff to work and develop.

And finally, what more do you think could be done to make homes more affordable for young and first-time buyers in expensive southern England locations where you’re building?

House prices in the south and south east have risen at a faster rate than other parts of the country in recent years that’s for sure, but there are good deals to be found. We pride ourselves on building high quality and affordable homes, with first-time buyers accounting for a significant proportion of our sales. Currently we have homes available from £180,000 and just a 5% deposit needed (when buying with Help to Buy if applicable). Have a look at inlandhomes.co.uk to find out more.

 

A WhatHouse? Awards Bronze for Hyde New Homes
15 December 2015
Developer Hyde New Homes did well to catch the eye of the judges at the WhatHouse? Awards 2015 with one of its popular Brighton schemes...Read more
News
10 February 2016
The international property consultancy's latest report says government funding is not enough for supply of new homes to meet demand over the next...Read more
News
Spireswood Grange (David Wilson Homes)
7 March 2016
Its commuter population is one of the reasons behind Brighton's 'London-on-Sea' nickname, and its new homes market is still attractive to buyers ...Read more
Today's New Homes
Search  

Click here to see your activities