Customer service is key to home purchases, survey reveals

Research has found 94 per cent of people say that the customer service they receive when buying a home is key, and 83 per cent stating that poor customer service would put them off buying or renting a new build home, according to a survey by Classic Folios. With builders feeling the pressure to make moving as seamless as possible to achieve the desired 5 star Home Builders Federation rating, the research found that 63 per cent of people claim that as long as they are kept adequately informed and communications are honest throughout the buying process, they would not mind the hassle of buying a new home, which is found to be the “most stressful” life event by one-third of Brits.

Despite these claims, however, 17 per cent of those surveyed have experienced poor customer service during the buying or renting process, with the majority of those surveyed stating there are factors such as better communication and management processes, that would make the home buying experience easier, demonstrating a need for improvement in the industry.

The research also revealed that nearly a third of people were concerned about finding problems that require further work once the property was completed. A total of 46 per cent of those polled considered the buying process to be easier with a new build, as they can choose

certain options, such as colour palettes and fitted appliances, when buying off plan directly with the developer or builder.

Furthermore, the research found that when buying a home, 47 per cent consider the most important factor when deciding on where to buy is being near shops, followed by local amenities such as pubs and restaurants (43 per cent) with being in the catchment area for local schools also an important factor. David Graydon, managing director at

Classic Folios, commented: “To purchasers, buying a new home is more than just purchasing a building – it’s the whole experience from reservation, through to completion and aftercare, so it’s important that developers and other housing providers are taking this on board to meet their customers’ require- ments, while at the same time enhancing their brand.”

Industry is more resilient than thought, HBD survey finds

Despite the many barriers to building and the political uncertainty reported in recent years, it appears as though the housebuild- ing sector is suffering less from industry challenges than is often argued, with builders and developers instead looking ahead to increasing sustainability and adoption of new technologies. According to research conducted by

Housebuilder & Developer on the magazine’s readership – which is chiefly top employees of SME housebuilders and developers – issues such as Brexit and the skills crisis are not as troubling for smaller firms as is being portrayed. Though Brexit and its effects have been

delayed, the significant uncertainty across the sector is undeniable, and the media has reported impacts of that uncertainty already occurring across the industry. According to the survey however, there are indications the vast majority (84 per cent) of firms have not been affected by the process of leaving the EU at all as yet, and are carrying on as normal. Only 16 per cent reported that they had seen any impact of Brexit so far on their business. The skills crisis is another issue that is

purported as being an industry-wide challenge, affecting builders from the small-


est to the biggest. Our survey revealed however that 63 per cent of respondents had not been at all affected by this short- age, though 37 per cent did. This split is less extreme than over the Brexit question however, and 37 per cent indicates a signifi- cant number of firms may be struggling with skills – itself a problem set to worsen post-Brexit. Site acquisition was another issue raised

in the survey, with respondents asked to answer how much they agreed or disagreed with the following statement – “Our company is finding it increasingly difficult to secure sites to build on.” This seems to be something of a ‘headline’ problem for smaller housebuilders, with only 6 per cent strongly disagreeing, 25 per cent disagree- ing, and 34 per cent agreeing. Only 7 per cent were strongly in agreement, with the rest remaining on the fence. Despite these barriers, there was a great interest shown in environmental issues and modern methods of construction (MMC). This showed the issues were high on the agenda for professionals leading SME firms; over 68 per cent of the respon- dents were top employees, including 23 per cent being chief executives, 23 per cent managers, 11 per cent directors and 11 per cent chairmen. Sustainability and environmental issues

were seen as especially important to the respondents, with none citing that it was not at all important to their roles. Just 10 per cent said it was not very important, while 49 per cent said it was quite important, and 41 per cent considered the issues to be very important to their role. With the impending climate challenge the world faces, this is positive news, especially as the UK built environment contributes around 40 per cent of the country’s total carbon footprint currently. Another potentially positive response

was regarding readers’ levels of interest in MMC. While SMEs are not always connected with modular building, this assumption is shifting, with just 2 per cent of respondents not at all interested in the building methods, 10 per cent not very interested, 45 per cent quite inter- ested and 39 per cent very interested. This shift has perhaps not taken full effect yet however, with just 4 per cent of respondents currently building or procur- ing offsite systems.

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