Private Registrations down

It appears that Brexit is taking it’s toll on the new homes market as evidenced by the drop in private registrations according to the NHBC.

The national figure for year on year February was a decline of 17%. Overall registrations, including affordable, decreased by 7% showing a clear upsurge in the affordable sector.

However, even including the affordables Yorkshire and the North East both showed declines in total registrations of 4% and 24% respectively. The North West showed an increase of 11%. This was significantly supported by affordables as the private registrations for the region dropped by 5%.

The rolling quarter stats for December through to February summarise the picture well. Nationally, private registrations dropped by 13% whilst affordable shot up by 36%.

Let’s hope for a political resolution soon and better numbers in the second half of 2019.

Overall Customer Satisfaction Improving

Talking of the HBF customer satisfaction survey, chairman Stewart Baseley was keen to point out that the 2019 results are the best ever since the survey started back in 2006.

From around 60,000 surveys completed, 87% of customers would recommend their builder to a friend and 86% were satisfied with their new home. (I wouldn’t want to be friends with the 1% who weren’t satisfied but who would still recommend!). In both cases, these figures are an improvement of 1% on the previous year. Hardly a quantum leap but trending in the right direction.

On a positive note, 4 out of 5 largest UK housebuilders now have a maximum 5-star rating thanks to Taylor Wimpey and Redrow gaining their 5-star status in the most recent survey.

Slightly more concerning is that only 77% of customers were happy with their builders after sales service. There is still work to do on improving the customer journey and ensuring that people feel buying new was the right choice.

Persimmon’s home buyers retention initiative

Persimmon’s sales contracts are changing. The business is writing in a clause to allow the buyer’s solicitor to withhold up to 1.5% of the purchase price until faults found prior to key release are rectified. On Persimmon’s average selling price this would be around £3,600.

Roger Devlin, Persimmon’s chairman, said: “This is a first among the UK’s large housebuilders and I hope will lead the way in change across the sector.  This move, and the urgency with which we will introduce it is a clear and unambiguous signal of cultural and operational change at Persimmon.”

The recent HBF customer satisfaction survey gave Persimmon just 3 stars whilst the other biggest 3 UK builders all received 5 stars.  Coupled with the prospect of a new house building ombudsman it appears Persimmon have been spurred into action.

How effective the retention initiative is remains to be seen keeping in mind that it only covers faults identified before the customer moves in and is capped at 1.5% which will be around £2,000 on many starter homes. However, anything that is aimed at improving the reputation of new homes should be welcomed. Time will tell.