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Q&A with St. Modwen Homes - how has Covid affected buyers and investors?

Housebuilding took a hit as a result of the pandemic, but there are signs that it is now starting to recover.

In this Q&A, Property Investor Today chats with Jo Winston, sales and marketing director at St. Modwen Homes, about the impact of Covid, the investor-friendliness of new-build homes and developments, and what the stamp duty holiday and the 95% mortgage guarantee scheme means for the development sector.

Can you tell us a bit about St. Modwen Homes? Who are you and when were you founded?


St. Modwen Homes is a national homebuilding business. We’re dedicated to sustainability — specialising in the regeneration and remediation of brownfield land and urban environments, and focussing on environmentally-friendly construction and living for families and communities to thrive.

The living experience is built into the foundations of our homes, designed for health and wellbeing, low running costs, and work and comfort. While built by us, every St. Modwen Homes property is shaped by our customers. We provide a range of open-plan and family-orientated options, homes with dedicated workspaces, and properties with tall walls and large windows to fill your house with height and light.

St. Modwen Homes was formed in 2011, a division of St. Modwen Properties Plc. It was developed on the belief that quality was the essential requirement for homebuilding enterprises. Today, we construct hundreds of new homes across the UK, also achieving a five-star rating in customer service from the National Housebuilders Federation which shows that 96% of our customers would recommend us.

How has Covid-19 affected development and investment?

For homebuyers, Covid-19 has created barriers towards their homeowning journey. This is evident across the housing market, where completed house sales have seen the brunt impact of the pandemic. In May 2020, completed house sales in England and Wales were 70% lower than they were in May 2019.

However, there is reason to be optimistic. Construction was allowed to continue beyond the first lockdown, and we’ve continued to invest in our developments.

The need for new homes is still high, and the business continues to operate, offering remote home viewing solutions to customers. We’ve invested in technology that allows homebuyers to view their prospective properties from all angles, while maintaining quality customer service through live-feed video calls to answer any questions.

Do St. Modwen Homes offer opportunities for existing and would-be investors, or are homes mainly targeted at first-time buyers?

The current incentives for first-time buyers to purchase new-build homes creates a clear focus for us to concentrate our efforts on helping as many people get onto the property ladder as possible. All homes are investments in this respect.

We provide additional assistance to first-time buyers, offering a First Time Buyer Boost to customers that includes lower reservation fees, help with solicitor fees, and carpet and flooring costs.

We do have some developments which would suit investors very well. This includes Digbeth One 2, a complex of modern apartments in the heart of Birmingham.

Like all St. Modwen Homes properties, Digbeth One 2 has been designed to a high specification, with a quality rooftop communal area that overlooks Birmingham’s skyline, and interiors designed to reflect the industrial heritage of Digbeth. The popular apartments would be ideal for prospective landlords marketing towards city-centric individuals or families.

We also want to help keyworkers invest in their homes, with tailor-made incentives to help them on their homebuying journey. Additional offers for existing homeowners include our Assisted Move scheme that helps customers who are struggling to sell their current home, and our promise to help you get the maximum price for your property in a part exchange.

Will the extension of the stamp duty holiday and the announcement of government-backed 95% mortgages help or hinder your business?

One priority of St. Modwen Homes is to create an accessible housing market. Any incentive that recognises the importance of homeownership is positive for our business, and we actively encourage customers to take advantage of these schemes.

The extension of the stamp duty holiday is a welcome move for both homebuyers and the property market. It gives our customers an extended period to complete and organise their conveyancing and administrative needs. Customers can save up to £15,000 through the stamp duty holiday, meaning more money is free for their other investments.

Recognising this, St. Modwen Homes is proud to announce our own extension of the stamp duty holiday. Where the government scheme has been extended until June 30 2021, we have extended this scheme on homes up to the value of £500,000 until September 30 2021.

The government-backed 95% LTV mortgage guarantee scheme is also a positive incentive for our business and customers. In recent months, finding a 95% LTV mortgage has been near enough impossible and many buyers have had to pause their home search as a result.

Homes are an important investment into the livelihood and wellbeing of the public, and any assistance to help people with the purchase of their home, particularly first-time buyers, is encouraging.

The government-backed Help to Buy Equity Loan has already helped so many first-time buyers step onto the property ladder. Although the offer is inviting for many, the introduction of the regional price caps can be a little restricting for some.

Therefore, this new 95% LTV mortgage guarantee scheme will make a huge difference for prospective purchasers, whether they are first-time buyers or existing homeowners.


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