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Quality New Homes and Customer Care a Priority For Welsh Housebuilder

Posted 7 February 2018 by Keith Osborne

Andrea Gardner of Waterstone Homes talks to us exclusively about the company's new homes and purchase options...

Here, we speak exclusively to Andrea Gardner, sales and marketing director of Welsh housebuilder Waterstone Homes, about the choice and quality of its properties and developments, and its focus on customer service for homebuyers there.

Hi Andrea, please tell us a little about yourself and Waterstone Homes.

Waterstone Homes is a luxury housebuilder building homes across South Wales and the West of England. 

Personally, I have worked within the property industry for more than 20 years and have a real passion for selling homes. After working for some of the UK’s leading housebuilders, including Westbury plc and Charles Church, I decided to join Waterstone Homes, inspired by the way the firm puts consumer choice first, something I strongly believe in.

After all, the purchase of a home is one of the biggest personal spends a person will make in their lifetime. Customers’ desires for properties change, and I wanted to work with a firm that adapted to suit these desires. Waterstone Homes is forever evolving by listening and working with specialists and its customers to react to lifestyle changes.

What developments are you currently working on? 

We are currently working on a range of developments across South and West Wales including Tuskers Point, a selection of 12 New England-style modern homes looking out to the dramatic coast in Ogmore-by-Sea, and St Nicholas Fields, a collection of 17 four- and five-bedroom family homes set in a peaceful countryside neighbourhood in the traditional Vale of Glamorgan village of St Nicholas. Both these developments are on the outskirts of Cardiff.

On top of these two prime locations, we also have a number of exciting upcoming collections planned. Usk Field, in the popular Cardiff suburb of Llanishen, will feature a mix of modern, urban-style four- and five-bedroom properties within easy commuting distance to Cardiff’s city centre.

In Pembrokeshire, we are working on Wales’ very own Sandbanks in the picturesque coastal village of Broad Haven. This latest development will be set amongst the National Park, just five minutes away from the beach, with the properties having been tailored to capture stunning views over the Irish Channel and the beach.

Do you have a favourite and/or one that you think is particularly special?

Our Tusker’s Point development in Ogmore-by-Sea has to be one of my all-time favourites. For a start, the location is absolutely stunning with breathtaking views out to the sea, and the properties themselves have been beautifully designed both inside and out to blend into their coastal setting. We took a different approach to these homes, using an ‘upside-down’ design to maximise the views in the main living spaces, which has had amazing results. We also chose to have a very small number of properties on the site, just 12 – the result is a very spacious, uncluttered development in a super location for Cardiff or Swansea. 

I am partial to coastal locations and so I am also very excited about our Broad Haven development. It’s in a secluded spot – the perfect place to sit down, relax, take in a breath of fresh sea air and escape the humdrum of everyday life. Ideal for customers looking for that work/life balance.

Are there property 'hotspots' in Wales at the moment? 

There is definitely a growing demand for coastal locations in Wales. Being a West Walian myself, I can completely understand why. There are some beautiful spots on the Welsh coast with incredible sea views, and thanks to great transport links and connections to the capital and further afield, we expect to see the property market in these areas continue to rise in popularity.

Are the buyer options you offer popular with your customers? 

Generally speaking, most of our customers have the ability to buy with very little if no mortgage at all. Because chains can often hold up a property purchase, I know that patience is key in such instances. But, to help with this, we occasionally offer Part Exchange on some properties, but this is very limited and only available on selected plots so it’s definitely worth taking up the opportunity if it is offered!

Our aptly named Fairplay scheme is another option available to buyers. This is similar to Part Exchange but only offered at slab level at the start of the plot being built. As part of the scheme, Waterstone Homes markets your property for you and, if it doesn’t sell by the time your new home is ready, we will buy your home at a price agreed at the outset. Created for our customers, and also named by our customers, the scheme has been going for ten years and has proven very successful.

What are the main features of new build that attract buyers over re-sale homes?  

Knowing that you are first person to live in the bricks that you have bought is a fantastic feeling. Buying a new build also gives customers the opportunity to influence many choices in the design and finish of a property to make the home their own, which is a huge incentive in itself.

Then there’s the factor of home efficacy and energy efficiency – without a shadow of doubt, new homes are superb at saving you money when it comes to bills as the homes have been built sustainably with the latest innovations and features. At the same time, there’s no need to invest thousands of pounds in repairs or investments as may be the case with an older property. With a new home, you have a good start and an immediate cost benefit.                                         

Is there something that Waterstone does to differentiate itself from the competition?  

We respect that customers are buying a very significant purchase with their hard-earned money and deserve the upmost care and attention. It can be difficult to work to a time frame and the last thing customers want is to feel rushed or pressured into selections that they will have to live with for a long time. With this in mind, we offer a bespoke service where we have a professional designer come in at reservation point to work with the customer directly on the selection of choices ensuring that our clients consider the bigger picture and get their home just the way they want it.

Our focus is on selling off-plan, where many decisions have to be managed, so we ensure that we place customers at the forefront of this. Listening to our buyers ensures that customers are not only satisfied that they are part of the building process, but also ensures that they are happy with the choices, meaning the property is right for the paying client.

What developments are in the pipeline for next year and how do you see the property market going? 

Without revealing too much, we have luxury developments planned in Lisvane, Cardiff and Killay in Swansea. Aside from this, there are plenty of other projects and ideas in the pipeline. Our land sellers really feel that we are the right choice to deliver new homes, homes that they can be proud of to be part of their neighbourhood.

With affordable housing on rise, and our developments increasingly sharing land with such schemes, we appreciate that it’s time we evolved into the smaller house types including bungalows. There’s a need for quality smaller homes and we have locations and designs from our new collections meeting these criteria that we are nearly ready to share. It’s an exciting time for Waterstone Homes and I am so proud to have been a part of this and work with such a great team of open and creative minds that are willing to adapt to the needs of our clients.  

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