Buy­ers de­mand warmth, space and ef­fi­ciency as mar­ket takes new turn

In a chal­leng­ing mar­ket, buy­ers of new homes are ex­pect­ing bet­ter de­signed and more en­ergy efficient homes. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

FIVE years ago, buy­ers were snap­ping up homes be­fore the builders even be­gan on the foun­da­tions.

They con­sid­ered the lo­ca­tion, glimpsed the com­put­er­gen­er­ated im­ages, paid a de­posit and hoped for the best.

Now, de­vel­op­ers rarely sell off­plan and buy­ers are call­ing all the shots. What they are de­mand­ing is very dif­fer­ent to what they got in the boom years.

Ris­ing fuel bills and a re­ac­tion against tiny, rab­bit hutch-sized rooms have re­sulted in new­builds that are more spacious, bet­ter de­signed and far more en­ergy efficient.

Nick Hud­son, of Bead­nall Co­p­ley es­tate agents, Har­ro­gate, says en­ergy sav­ing and gen­er­at­ing fea­tures are now a ma­jor sell­ing point. A re­cent de­vel­op­ment by Zam­mitt on Pan­nal Ash Drive, was a huge suc­cess thanks to its im­pres­sive eco cre­den­tials. The prop­er­ties there have above re­quired amounts of in­su­la­tion, so­lar pan­els and a rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing sys­tem.

“That el­e­ment was a mas­sive sell­ing point and we used it to great ef­fect when we were mar­ket­ing the houses,” says Nick. “We worked out that each homeowner would save about £800 a year on run­ning costs. That’s a large amount of money and if you add to that the fact you don’t need to do any main­te­nance to your home for the first few years, and there are sub­stan­tial sav­ings in buy­ing new.”

The ap­peal of new and en­ergy efficient homes is set to rise.

The dual fuel tar­riffs have gone up by 40 per cent over the past five years and do­mes­tic gas and elec­tric­ity sup­pli­ers are pre­par­ing to raise prices again this sum­mer. Re­cent in­creases in the cost of both whole­sale gas and elec­tric­ity are to blame and the av­er­age bill will jump to £1,300 a year, ac­cord­ing to Blue­mark Con­sul­tants.

Price is an­other car­rot for buy­ers, who want value for money, and deals such as par­tex­change, dis­counts and shared equity are a good way of win­ning busi­ness.

De­vel­op­ers also need to keep an eye on in­te­rior trends and life­styles.

“We’ve no­ticed that most peo­ple want big, fam­ily-sized liv­ing kitchen,” says Nick Hud­son.

Steve McElroy, sales di­rec­tor for Miller Homes, adds: “With ever chang­ing life­styles, we find that lay­out and de­sign are still key fac­tors when pur­chas­ing a new home, buy­ers re­quire a per­fect blend of style and prac­ti­cal­ity. Per­haps more in­creas­ingly, due to re­stric­tions on mort­gage lend­ing, some homes are be­com­ing more at­trac­tive if sup­ported by a pur­chase as­sis­tance scheme such as shared equity or de­posit match or al­ter­na­tively for those that have an ex­ist­ing home to sell part ex­change is still seen as a valu­able in­cen­tive to those want­ing a has­sle free move.

“Pur­chasers con­tinue to see the ben­e­fits of low main­te­nance and en­hanced eco-friendly ad­van­tages and com­bine this with the “blank can­vas” and you can see why the de­mand for new homes is still there.

One of the big­gest changes in new-build has come in the apart­ment mar­ket. De­vel­op­ers of flats have had to work ex­tra hard to get buy­ers. Pre­vi­ously most apart­ments were snapped up by buy-to-let in­vestors, but now they have to ap­peal to owne­roc­cu­piers.

Isis Water­side Re­gen­er­a­tion, which is build­ing the Gra­nary Wharf de­vel­op­ment in Leeds city cen­tre, re­acted by giv­ing its apart­ment more square footage and bet­ter qual­ity fit­tings.

“We’ve also upped the spec­i­fi­ca­tion to add value for money, so in­side the apart­ments, the doors are all high-qual­ity ve­neered, work tops are gran­ite and all the white goods are in­cluded,” says a spokesman.

Clayton Homes, who con­verted Silk Mill in El­land, also re­alised that big­ger was bet­ter.

Ed­dis­ons, which now man­age 79 of the apart­ments for sale or rental and also man­age the build­ing, re­port that one buyer has snapped up three flats: one for him­self and one each for his daugh­ters to live in.

“They were built for owne­roc­cu­piers and there is a lot of space,” says Paul Wil­son, head of res­i­den­tial agency at Ed­dis­ons.

“They have util­ity rooms, stud­ies/third bed­rooms, lots of stor­age and bal­conies. Peo­ple need some­where to keep their vac­uum cleaner and other be­long­ings. The other big sell­ing point is that the de­vel­op­ment is gated with CCTV and it is very se­cure and so what we are see­ing is that peo­ple who are rent­ing them are be­com­ing in­ter­ested in buy­ing.

“In fact, we’re plan­ning a rentto-buy scheme and I think this is go­ing to be a big part of fu­ture sales for de­vel­op­ments across the UK.

“There are a num­ber of rea­sons for this. Peo­ple aren’t in any hurry to buy and they like the idea of liv­ing some­where be­fore they com­mit.”

BIG­GER AND BET­TER: Silk Mill in El­land, was built by Clayton Homes with owner oc­cu­piers in mind and the apart­ments are spacious.

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