Following a sustained period of rapid growth since emerging from recession in 2013, the UK housing market – and London and the south east in particular – has, in recent months, started to show signs of cooling. Chronic under-supply of properties coming to market coupled with affordability constraints for many first and second-time purchasers have contributed to a shift away from record levels of price increases, whilst London, for years driving the sector despite seeming like a world away from the rest of the country, has finally slowed under the weight of its own unsustainable growth.
But there is plenty of business still to do – at a regional level there appears to be diverse fortunes with the midlands and north helping to maintain the national average in the wake of a slowing south east market. Even so, we look set to be heading for what could be a more challenging period since the recession ended, with consumers ever more selective and cautious to enter the market as interest rates begin to move, the question over affordability starts to loom.
So what of 2018? As the south reacts and corrects its position, the rest of the country should keep things ticking along, but for developers, now is the time to take stock and review processes to ensure they are braced for more testing times. How are your visitor levels looking compared to recent months last year? What about enquiry levels via telephone, email and web? Do you even know reviewing and adapting now could make life much easier into next year, and ensure every customer and every lead are handled as effectively as possible in these slightly more testing times.
As a starting point, we’ve highlighted a few key areas where we think sales teams can get some ‘quick wins’:
- Email communications – respond quickly – is that one hour, that day or within the week? I would certainly ensure at the very least the same day! But don’t forget the days you are not open, is there anyone else who can pick up the enquiries?
- Financial incentives/’move-makers’ – with vendors not going to market now is the time to offer assisted purchase schemes to encourage vendors to make the move.
- Tactical marketing – those sites sitting on “early birds”, should you make the decision to release now and take the sale? Do you believe prices will go up? And, anyway, if they are the best plots test the price!
- Staff training – this comes in all shapes – you and your Managers know that you have to focus on marketing those two plots for end of quarter! How about a little coaching on site and talk about a plot, talk about types of purchaser, talk about price, talk about the incentives and not least re-trawl the customers you have already seen last year! January 1st is when they think about moving again. Maybe some focused advertising?
- How are we tracking those applicants on our website? By email, telephone calls, encouraging the applicant to visit site. Plenty of activity to manage but are your team so busy that they can’t get to the job in hand? Perhaps they need help!
For more information on support services, training and coaching for new homes developers, in addition to other services offered by Maitland Selwyn, visit www.maitlandselwyn.co.uk or reach out via social media.