Guest blog – Iain White
Adapt and overcome with land and new homes
While challenging times may lay ahead for some agents, there is opportunity in the land and new homes sector writes Iain White of the Innovation Collaboration Group.
Not that it’s something to be proud of, but I’ve witnessed a number of recessions. I’ve seen first-hand what they do to the property industry and, in particular, to estate agents. In 1992 for example, the market was on its knees. Back then, I was at Romans and we managed to ride out the storm better than many expected by identifying key markets to get revenue coming into the company. One of those key markets was land and new homes, and I believe that now, once again, land and new homes will play a crucial part in the survival or success of many estate agent businesses.
Why? It’s a sustainable, proven market that provides rapid access to cash. And, as we head into the worst of what’s to come, cash flow will be the most critical factor in any agent’s business. So how do you, as the owner of an independent agency, get access to that market even if you have a little-to-no track record in land and new homes? Happily, there’s a simple, fast-track route straight into it, and I’ll come back to that shortly.
What we’re facing
In the meantime, it’s worth considering where we as an industry are today and where we’ll be tomorrow. As most of us will be acutely aware, all bets are off. The sales in our pipelines are either on hold or being processed as much as they can be in the current situation. The lettings side of the business is ticking over. In my opinion, we’ll soon see some restrictions lifted and many of us will be able to return to a new type of normality. There’ll be an initial boom; a very busy, intense period of sales and completions and then, there’s no doubt about it, lending may become tougher, some jobs will be lost and some incomes will shrink.
That’s the reality we’re all facing. But we’re also facing an entirely more positive flipside. There will be ‘aspirational movers’ who’ll be looking to buy and sell property regardless; there’ll be people forced into downsizing; there’ll be changes to family structures; the housing shortage will only get worse; and to a greater or lesser extent, there’ll be a shift in our national dynamic. This will all generate a need for quicker sales and purchases, unencumbered by survey negotiations, lengthy chains or protracted processes.
This is where land and new homes comes into its own.
Where opportunity lies
Put simply, land and new homes will put cash ‘in the till’ far quicker than almost any other sale on an estate agent’s books. And if I were an independent agent right now, I’d be banging on Kevin Ellis’ door right now, asking him and his team to show me how it works and how to do it well.
For those that don’t know him, Kevin is the Founder of the Land & New Homes Network, a national association that is dedicated to this specific area of the market. If you don’t have the experience of dealing with developers and housebuilders or the expertise to identify and market land opportunities then the Land & New Homes Network can give you the resources and training you need to thrive.
Become familiar with the nuances
When it comes to land and new homes, a skilled approach is required. Getting through to the right decision-maker at a housebuilder is just the start of the challenge; conveying the right messaging to that person is where much of the work is done. How relevant is your marketing? Should you be talking about the quality of your buyers or the returns you can deliver per square foot? Different operators have different motivations and it’s about learning which bullet to put in your sniper rifle, so to speak.
For example, if you get the CEO of the biggest builders in your region on the phone, what sentence are you going to come up with that gets him or her interested? If you’re a Land & New Homes Network member, you’ll be equipped with the know-how, the tools and – critically – the backing – to convert that conversation into a negotiation.
Get the backing you need to thrive
Let’s be honest, it’s quite difficult for an agency with no track record to convince a developer or house builder to do business with them. They’ll want to see evidence of wider resources, and the reassurance of a skilled, dedicated team. And that’s part of what you’re getting with the Network.
To my mind, land and new homes should be part of every agent’s arsenal. New homes are often chain-free, empty, easy to sell off-plan and perpetually in demand. And at a business level, that makes infinite sense.
As I say, I’ve witnessed several recessions, and many of the established, big players wouldn’t be half the size they are today had they not invested in the new homes industry. Get into land and new homes today and start building for a better tomorrow.