Housebuilder welcomes property ‘boom’ as it prepares to launch new sites

A Scottish housebuilder has revealed that a shift towards flexible working, an increase of the LBTT threshold, and investment in the First Home Fund are all reasons for a ‘boom’ in the Scottish property market.

Allanwater Homes is preparing to launch two new developments in Haddington and Chryston. The firm revealed how it has been affected by the current circumstances, which it attributes to pent up demand due to lockdowns and the number of people re-evaluating their priorities.

“Although the first lockdown meant house moves and related activities could not go ahead unless deemed ‘reasonably necessary’, we were delighted to secure a number of ‘virtual’ reservations for properties, some from plan, at several of our developments across Scotland,” said Cheryl McGeever, sales & marketing manager for Allanwater Homes. “This went on until June when restrictions were relaxed, and after that it became even more of a surge of enquiries and actual reservations.

“As a result of this demand, with our sales advisors working really hard to give each prospective buyer a socially distanced appointment at our sales offices where possible, we were delighted to secure sell outs at our developments at Heartlands, West Lothian, in Rumblingwell, Dunfermline, and at The Views in Saline in Fife.

“We’re now selling from our final phase at Silver Glen in Alva which has been another very popular development for young families, with another development in Alva coming later this year.”

Cheryl added that activity last year was busier during what would normally have been the quieter summer period, but admitted that nothing had been normal during the pandemic.

“It was a very strange and challenging year, but like many housebuilders we have been very fortunate in having an upside to it, which is an increased demand for our properties,” she added. “This is still filtering through into sales levels for 2021.”

Allanwater Homes celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, though unfortunately Covid restrictions meant no celebratory events or special gatherings could take place on site. The firm, however, is ‘celebrating’ the milestone by branching out into the new areas Haddington in East Lothian and Chryston near Glasgow.

Cheryl paid tribute to the hard work and resilience of her sales team over the past year. “It has certainly been a different way of working for us all, but our dedicated sales team have done a fantastic job of adapting to the new requirements,” she explained. “We’ve had several Trust Pilot five star reviews from recent customers on their level of service which is a brilliant achievement, and shows team work at its very best. We certainly shouldn’t forget our site managers and skilled tradesmen tasked with constructing the homes who have also faced the challenges of staying safe and adhering to social distancing whilst working on developments – they too should be very proud, and we thank them.”

Responding to the level of interest in properties, Cheryl stated that in lieu of foreign holidays and other expenses, some people wanted something positive to show for 2020. “A new larger home may have been on the cards anyway, but the pandemic has made them act sooner rather than later,” she said. “We also had people who had been keen to secure a property before the first lockdown that were even more desperate to buy when it ended. Some buyers that had sold properties already, had their plans thrown into disarray. Babies had been born, children had grown older and needed more space, and we had many people working and schooling from home, hence putting enormous pressure on living space in the home.”

To ease home working, Allanwater Homes has started offering fully IT-compliant garden rooms as optional extras. “There has been a huge shift to home working now,” Cheryl added. “Even with the pandemic hopefully drawing to a close later this year, many office workers are unsure if they will ever return to their large office buildings. As a builder of modern, eco-friendly housing that reflects how people live today, we have to be ready to adapt to changing demands, which I think we have ably demonstrated.

“Lastly, we shouldn’t discount that the increase in buying activity was also potentially encouraged by the increase of the zero-tax LBTT threshold to £250,000, and the additional investment into the First Home Fund last July. As the rest of the ravaged economy looks to recover in 2021-22, we anticipate that our sector will remain vibrant to help people realise their desires for a new home, but also to safeguard construction and sales jobs, alongside the livelihoods of the many suppliers to our industry.

“If people continue to buy new homes, they are buying new furniture and other items for the home, they are employing landscapers and decorators, they are boosting the economy in so many ways.”