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One-on-one interview: Helen Woods, Mandale Homes

Posted 22 June 2017 by Keith Osborne

An exclusive interview with Mandale Homes, builders of new homes across northern England...

This week’s exclusive looks at the range of new homes being built across the North of England by Mandale Homes and speaks about them and their audience with Helen Wood, residential sales manager for the company.

What developments are you currently working on?

We have 53 two-, three- and four-bedroom, high-spec homes for first-time buyers in Bishop Auckland, County Durham; six  bespoke, executive homes in a beautiful village called Medburn in Ponteland, Newcastle; 12 three- and four-bedroom homes in Micklefield, West Yorkshire; 34 two-, three- and four-bedroom homes in Blaxton, Doncaster (Blakestone Glade);  and seven executive family homes in Thorganby, York (The Paddock).

What do you consider to be the property hotspots of you region and what makes them so special?

We don’t have a set region that we work in, we work throughout Yorkshire and the North East.  There are various hotspots for various reasons. A prime example is Bedford Sidings in Bishop Auckland – homes here start at £109,950 and we have nearly sold out of phase one in less than two months! Whilst many people wouldn’t consider this area as ‘prime’ we have entered the market with exactly the kind of thing buyers round here are looking for – affordable, high-spec homes. 

In contrast, for example is Medburn in Ponteland.  This is a more expensive market, and therefore demands a different product, such as the kinds of homes we are building here. Because we don’t pigeonhole ourselves into specific buyer demographics it means we can offer, and we are experienced in, all areas of housebuilding.

What makes the Mandale approach to designing and constructing new homes different from the competition?

The quality, specification and consideration that is built into these homes is unmatched. Each of our developments are approached as a blank canvas, and we design the homes and the site layout to ensure that our developments are in keeping with the local area. All of our developments add to existing communities rather than creating new ones, often taking derelict and disused brownfield land and transforming it into a stunning development. The nature of what we do adds value to local communities, clears eyesores & provides much needed housing in sought after locations.

Every home is built to a superior specification than what is found with other housebuilders and we offer an unmatched selection of design choices, extras and upgrades allowing each buyer to make our house their home.

What do you consider to be the most important advantages of new build and do you think more house-hunters are seeing them?

There are several huge advantages of buying new build: energy efficiency, warranty and build quality, just to name a few.

Obviously, with a new build, very often you get chance to pick your finishes, meaning that you aren’t moving into a home that wasn’t designed to your taste.

Every housebuilder has a list of reputable solicitors and financial advisors they could recommend, meaning that a long drawn out sales process can be shortened, and it can remove a lot of the hassle that is often associated with moving home. Even down to the utility providers and councils – at Mandale Homes. we contact them and let them know of the new homeowners which often leaves just your bank, insurance companies, TV and mobile provider to inform.

You often hear of these horror stories: Wendy your friend has bought a house and didn’t like the kitchen flooring, so she decides to have it replaced as soon as possible. She moves in, and that weekend, lifts the vinyl in the kitchen to find all the floorboards have rotted! So not only is Wendy now living out of boxes, her kitchen is unusable, and chances are the whole kitchen is going to have to be taken out in order to rectify the issue. Nobody needs that sort of hassle, especially when moving home is a notoriously stressful time as it is.

Are show homes still a vital part of new homes search and how do you make yours especially appealing? 

We find that show homes aren’t as much a specific requirement on our developments as they used to be. Technology is becoming more and more important in the new homes search. At Mandale Homes, we offer various technological experiences such as augmented reality and virtual walk-throughs allowing the buyer to have an almost tangible feel of what their new home is going to be like before even a brick is laid. 

We are finding that we are constructing fewer and fewer show homes as the sales on our developments are often quicker than what we can build, so we often find we are sold out at a development, particularly smaller ones before we even have chance to open a show home. That being said, some markets do have a higher demand for a show home, particularly markets that are less trusting and embracing of new technology, and where the construction process is for whatever reason, more complicated (say a difference in levels, a more complex layout, a home offering more ‘contemporary living’)

Are schemes such as Help to Buy and Part Exchange vital to today's buyers?

Whilst we do offer part exchange on our developments we find that ‘Assisted Move’ is a much more successful sales route for us. It means that prospective buyers can achieve more for their current home, facilitating a move to one of our homes, whilst not forcing the buyer to economise any further than desired. 

Help to Buy is a totally different matter. This has really assisted those with homeownership desires meet their aspirations. Rents are increasing meaning buyers have less disposable income than ever before, which means that without help to buy they simply wouldn’t be able to move. Even second-time buyers look at using the scheme to help them upsize into homes that are better suited for their needs, this, needless to say, also frees up smaller housing perfect for first-time buyers and new families.

Is the current market especially strong or weak for certain types of buyer? 

Again, this entirely depends on the area! As mentioned above, Help to Buy has really helped first-time buyers and upgraders get the home they want.

How do you see the rest of 2017 for the new homes sector in your area?

We are going from strength to strength. As more investment is made outside of London, that brings with it jobs and housing demand. Young people, more than ever are aware of what is financially required in order to be able to buy a new home, and it is a aspiration that many set their hearts on.  At Mandale we provide affordable, high-specification housing that supplies exactly this demand. 

Those looking to upscale/move are more confident than they have been in years that they are going to achieve the figure they need in order to buy the home they want. Confidence in the housing market is increasing, estate agents are demanding more stock, and demand is rising. Only housebuilders, ultimately, are able to supply the market with the product that homebuyers demand.

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