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Expert Highlights Off-Plan Property Hotspots

Posted 12 September 2022 by Helen Christie

We catch up with Rayna Hunter, managing director and head of global sales of LH1 London, on creating satisfied customers and happy clients...

LH1 London finds Manchester hard to beat in terms of property value growth, but Bradford is one to watch, too…

Rayna, what has been your route to becoming managing director and head of global sales of LH1 London?

Before beginning my journey in the property sector with LH1 London, I enjoyed a long and successful career in PR and events, working with an incredible portfolio of clients and promoting some fantastic projects in the UK and overseas. Whilst it may not appear to be the most traditional route, I believe it has been the perfect grounding for my role at LH1, as it allowed me to master communication, manage a wide range of clients and deliver results under pressure, all of which are essential skills when overseeing the sales and marketing of multiple developments across the UK. My experience has also proved vital in thriving as one of the only leading females in a male-dominated industry, and building a successful business alongside LH1’s founder, Benjamin Hunter.

LH1 London is an off-plan property consultancy - can you explain how that works for new home buyers?

We offer our developer partners a discreet and clearly defined sales and marketing strategy for off market, pre-build developments, which saves them a considerable amount of time and money, whilst eliminating exposure to market fluctuations. Our role is to manage the entire sales and marketing process, which is customer focused and comprises a full-service approach to ensure that buyers are supported through the entire sales journey. For investors we offer exclusivity, delivering investment opportunities in prime located developments otherwise unavailable to the open market. Overall, we find that our approach leads to faster completions due to purchasers being managed carefully to ensure that if there are any issues, we are on hand to provide support or find a solution to the problem. This means more satisfied customers and happy clients.

You work in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds; which schemes are you marketing at the moment?

We are currently working on multiple developments across Northern Powerhouse cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Bradford. The Northern Powerhouse is currently undergoing an extensive regeneration, which is fuelling the local property market, whilst also piquing the interest of international and domestic investors.

We’ve had some fantastic recent success in Manchester, with our prime residential scheme, Spinning Mill, selling out fully off-plan within 16 weeks, whilst one of our projects on Leeds’s South Bank has recorded significant value growth since it completed in 2020. In Bradford, one of the fastest growing cities in the Northern Powerhouse, largely due to its ever-growing economy of 11.6bn, we recently launched Phase two of The Printworks, a spectacular development, which is the conversion of the Grade II listed former home of Hallmark Cards.

Is there one city outperforming the others?

In terms of property value growth, it’s difficult to find a better location than Manchester. The UK’s new ‘second city’ has dominated growth charts over the last 20 years and has surpassed every other major UK city. Manchester’s housing market has continued to perform excellently despite recent challenges through COVID-19, with overall demand at the end of 2020 33% higher than in the same period in 2019.

Spinning Mill

However, one market to watch is Bradford. Recently voted the UK City of Culture for 2025 , Bradford has been earmarked as an area of significant inward bound investment, with savvy investors realising that Bradford is in a similar position the city of Leeds was in a couple of years ago and are anticipating sharp increases to property values.

Leeds itself cannot be overlooked, driven by a strong student market, which lends itself perfectly to buy-to-let investors, there is a steady annual demand for quality apartments within the city. This has contributed to property prices rising by 7.8% over the past year, which is above the UK average. Over the past five years values in the city have leapt 23.75%, making Leeds a safe place to invest in.

How do you think the forthcoming cost of living 'crisis' is going to affect new home sales?

The cost of living crisis is going to impact the entire population and all sectors of trade and business with varying levels of severity. The property market is not immune, however, real estate remains one of the best performing investment assets. Investors will want to make the disposable cash they have to go further and end users will look for the best possible value, so we expect to see activity levels remain strong in our portion of the sector.

Are you finding buyers looking for more economic energy and cost-saving systems in their homes?

Absolutely we are. In fact, one of our highly successful recent developments, New Town in Ashford was testament to this. Pascoe Homes, who delivered the project are very conscious of delivering new homes in a responsible way that will be fit for a greener future. New Town was constructed from recycled steel and fitted energy saving solutions to the apartments such as infrared heating systems. I’m sure we’re going to see more of this focus on sustainability and a reduced impact on the environment at more developments in the future.

Does the design and fit-out of a new build development differ much between London and, say, Manchester?

In a word, no! Whilst the price of land may differ between Manchester and London the cost of materials are the same and all of our partners value delivering the highest quality developments possible. We have launched some fantastic projects in locations such as Ashford in Kent, West Bromwich in the Midlands and cities such as Leeds and Bradford that would not be out of place in London. This is why we’re seeing international and domestic investors sit up and take notice of areas outside of the capital that offer the same, if not better, quality developments with far greater returns on offer.

Do you offer any incentives to new home buyers?

Normally no. The reason being is that the majority of our developments are priced well from the outset and interest is typically high, so there is little reason to offer incentives. Across all our developments we offer savvy purchaser’s the opportunity to “buy in” at “pre-launch” prices, which creates genuine opportunity for capital growth.

What's coming up for LH1 London in the next 12 months?

We have a growing pipeline of projects in some very exciting areas of the UK that will come to market towards the end of the year and into 2023, whilst some of our existing developments are gearing up for the release of final phases to bring them full circle. From a business perspective we have had a record year of growth and

increased our portfolio and client base tenfold, which will lead to something very exciting that we will reveal in the coming months.

And finally, what’s the ‘next big thing’ in new home design trends?

Sustainable and responsible development is the future. LH1 London focus on prime located city centre developments and our developer partners all embrace the requirement for eco-friendly construction. The next generation of developers are embracing the likes of smart homes, that are energy efficient and kind to the environment. Simple additions such as solar panels, low carbon emission systems, electric charge points for vehicles, infra-red heating systems, energy-efficient insulation heated by a low-carbon heating source such as an air source heat pump, recycled materials and outside space and green communal areas, all play a part in the decision-making process for the discerning young buyer and as a company, we embrace it.


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