Name and business title: Riccardo Iannucci Dawson, head of design at Shape Real Estate.
What does Shape Real Estate do? We’re a boutique London-based residential developer that creates bespoke, tailored homes for people with a huge emphasis on lifestyle and quality.
How did you get to your current role? I'm an architect by trade, but quickly found that building homes was my passion. At Shape I can create spaces that make homes better and improve the quality of life of their inhabitants.
What makes Shape Real Estate different from its competitors? We are design and lifestyle focused to our core. Although most developers would say that too, most are absolutely not.
At Shape we spend a huge amount of time before we start a project researching the area, interviewing its residents, understanding the area's architectural vernacular and essentially finding out what makes the place tick. This information then acts as a sieve for every decision for the project, and allows us to create ultra-tailored homes that truly embody the lifestyle of the residents.
Our current development near Sandbanks - Crosstrees - embodies this approach, with a mix of architectural styles and nautical-inspired interior design. There aren't many developers that can do it the way we do.
What do you think the most interesting property market trends are at the moment? There are so many interesting trends going on at the moment. Personally, I've been watching the co-living movement (amenity driven rental blocks with small, student like apartments) with a very keen eye. I think we are at a juncture in the world of housebuilding where we need to think more laterally about our consumers and their needs.
In the higher-end of the market that Shape currently focuses on, Brexit is having a big impact. For example, we're seeing less overseas purchases, with people instead turning to UK properties that offer similar lifestyle benefits with longer-term certainty.
I've also been working closely with a start-up prop-tech company called ‘YourKeyz’ who have some incredible technology by way of automation, which I believe will be an industry game-changer. It's super exciting!
In your opinion, what are the most important considerations for investors or landlords when buying new builds? Location, specification and growth potential. It's getting the magic formula of all three right that investors should always be looking for. We always make sure that our developments can offer this for investors, as well as owner-occupiers.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for investors in the property market at the moment? I firmly believe and emphasise it to my staff: there are buyers out there who want what we are offering, no matter the price, location, or tenure - it's just about finding them. Investors need to be dynamic when it comes to assets, too.
It's not as easy as it has been in the past and now more than ever investors need to go the extra mile, emphasise customer service, brand, and dig a little deeper to find those hidden gems.
As we all know, the market overall has taken a hit over the past few years but this creates an environment of necessity which drives innovation. The opportunities are there, investors just need to work harder to find them.
What is your greatest achievement in your current role, and why? The numbers don't lie. Every market we have entered, we have outperformed our major PLC competitors in sales, service and customer experience. For me, that's pretty cool.
What’s the most challenging part of your job? Emails, emails, emails!
Where will Shape Real Estate be in 5 years? In five years we will have 15-20 projects live across the UK, all with their own unique, tailored identity. We will also be recognised as one of the UK's leading developers for customer service, design and technology.
Learn more about Shape Real Estate by clicking here.