In conversation with Jade Boyles-White and Will Smith
“It starts and ends with the housebuilder”
Having founded Complete in 2007, Will Smith began building a new homes-focussed agency that has since become one of the South West’s market leaders. Today, Will is Chairman & Head of Land, and works in partnership with Managing Director, Jade Boyles-White. We asked them about the business and their unique approach…
Tell us about your commitment to land & new homes…
Will: Land and new homes has become a fundamental part of our business and it’s something I’ve always been involved in. When land started coming ‘back on track’ after the last recession, we spotted an opportunity to do a deal of about 100 units on full instruction. It was the making of us, really.
Jade: Absolutely. We’ve since grown to 27 live sites. That’s down to all sorts of reasons, but perhaps most importantly we have a genuine understanding of the market and what housebuilders need.
It’s not just about the development brochure or the branding, it’s about understanding the product, developing a full suite of marketing materials – underpinned by a coherent strategy – and becoming part of the sales team of the developer.
Will: In addition, we know that we need to provide housebuilders with their lifeblood, which is land. So, unlike any other agent in our area, we have a specialist division that sources land. We also track planning consent, look at forthcoming plans and use prop-tech to give us the inside track.
We give housebuilders early advice and consultancy; work as promoters of land, and deliver them with off-market ‘oven-ready’ opportunities. That’s a compelling proposition.
Do you think some agents are missing a trick?
Jade: Massively. I think the statistic is that 85% of buyers will initially only consider buying a second-hand home and while, on the one hand, that leaves just 15% of the market for new homes. On the other hand, that presents you with a HUGE 85% of the market to convert and sell to.
This is what motivates us and it’s why we’ve positioned ourselves as new homes specialists – we’ve even created a dedicated design and marketing business to help us communicate more effectively and reactively across all our sites and markets.
The majority of other estate agents see themselves as a sales function, but we know that sales and marketing have to work hand-in-hand throughout. What are you bringing to your audience? What are the messages and what is the strategy? We deliver a fully-formed plan.
How else do you go about converting that 85%?
Will: On a face-to-face level, it’s about our agents offering new homes suggestions that align with buyers’ needs – conversations such as: “I know you were looking for a larger garden, did you know we have a corner plot with a great outdoor space?” – but it’s also about the warranty, Help to Buy and offering specialist advice to help them through the process.
Jade: We have even created a New Homes Mortgage Advice Bureau to add that value and expertise that buyers are looking for and, most importantly, help developers convert more prospective buyers to reservations by really understanding the mortgage market.
And when did you become members of L&NHN?
Will: We joined from day one. I went to a seminar in London where Kevin was speaking, and I was so engaged with what he was saying that I started taking photos of his presentation slides! We had a conversation afterwards and, long story short, became one of the first members.
Jade: And it’s definitely a big asset when it comes to putting forward our case to builders. It gives us the ability to align with 400 offices, we can access exclusive data, we can open up new regions and opportunities to them and create relationships with similarly motivated agencies up and down the country.