Demand for new homes
Can you give an overview of how Plymouth's market has changed in the past two to three years?
There has been little change and the market remains challenging, but stable. However, there is still an appetite from house buyers to improve their current lifestyle by buying for the first time or upsizing.
What are your market predictions for Plymouth for the next 12 months?
With the number of recent Government initiatives, our own incentive schemes, the increased availability of mortgage products, including those requiring only a 5 per cent deposit, and the ongoing demand for quality new homes, we anticipate an improvement in the next 12 months leading to an increased number of transactions
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In the current climate, how are buyers behaving?
Our homes in Plymouth have sold steadily to those predominantly from the local area. Customers have been an eclectic mix of first-time buyers, investors and second-home owners. Our developments in the city, Phoenix Quay and Evolve, are excellent examples of people buying with the confidence that the surrounding area is also being regenerated through substantial investment. Similarly, proximity to the city centre is acting as a magnet to those wanting to be part of a vibrant city.
Our development in Plympton, Alston Park, continues to be extremely popular with those requiring a larger three or four-bedroom house away from the city centre, but still within easy reach
There's a lot of new-build developments springing up in Plymouth, but how buoyant is the new homes market?
People are looking for convenient locations, value for money and affordability. Being able to provide decent sized energy-efficient homes in desirable locations with the assistance of numerous mortgage products and other schemes only available when buying new homes is proving a good combination for today's home hunter.
What advice would you give to buyers, particularly first-timers, who cannot get on the housing ladder because of potentially high deposits?
Buying a new home in Plymouth at the moment is a lucrative move in terms of investment. We understand the obstacles buyers face in financing their new homes and see it as very much part of our service to assist buyers either getting on to or moving up the housing ladder. With traditional lenders demanding higher deposits, we were one of the first new home builders to offer our own 95 per cent mortgage product earlier this year to responsibly help people on to the housing ladder.
With numerous other schemes – including First Buy and New Buy, the Government's own mortgage scheme which requires a 5 per cent deposit and which is available to all buyers across the country on homes up to £500,000 – we view now as an excellent time to buy, particularly when you compare the cost of buying against renting.
Linden Homes has also made a number of other schemes available, including a range of other low deposit mortgages. Working in partnership with major high street lenders, NewBuy is an innovative new scheme designed to help you buy your new Linden home with a 5 per cent deposit and secure a 95 per cent fixed rate mortgage.
What is your view of the support you are receiving now from Local Authorities and Government and what other help could they offer companies like yours to boost the construction and sales market in such a difficult economic climate?
We need more homes to meet demand to house our growing population. The Government reinvigorating the First Buy scheme last month will provide hundreds of first-time buyers with the confidence that they can make the leap on to the housing ladder – boosting demand for new homes and, in turn, the local economy. We continue to actively support this initiative and welcome this ongoing investment. What we would like to see now is an increased campaign to inform buyers that there is help available.
It's vital that we have a planning system which encourages growth, not only to provide much-needed new homes but also to create a significant number of new jobs, providing huge social and economic benefits right across the county. The Centre for Economics and Business Research suggested that if house-building were to rise to 300,000 homes a year by 2015 (compared to less than 100,000 last year), over 200,000 extra permanent jobs would be created in the sector, boosting the UK economy by £75 billion.
We could certainly employ more people – we directly employ 155 people in the South West – as could our contractors, along with our successful apprenticeship scheme. Working with our contractors we were able to place our 100th apprentice this month, helping to skill up young people and plan for the future.