One in four: new homes in Norfolk are ever popular

One in four: new homes in Norfolk are ever popular hero
One in four homes sold with Sowerbys is now a new home. 

It comes as the number of people seeking a well-designed, energy-efficient, low-maintenance property is rising, but how do you nail finding the perfect plot?

"It all starts with a plan!" 
- Harry Thompson, Land and New Homes Manager

Many people still incorrectly associate a new housing development with a sea of endless boxes built to a vanilla blueprint, yet the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Across the county, Sowerbys’ new homes team works with creative developers who are building premium quality houses, designed to meet the needs of buyers with high aspirations.

Smaller schemes with a select number of bespoke properties marry the best of traditional materials with modern building standards to deliver energy-efficient, low-maintenance homes which more and more of us are seeking.

Land and new homes manager Harry Thompson, pictured above, says a close working relationship between agent and developer helps to craft stunning homes where the living is easy.

“Developers have ideas about where they want to build, but won’t necessarily know what buyers in the area want in a house,” says Harry.

“Across county, Sowerbys has nine branches and by talking with our teams we are able to drill down and scope what people are looking for – for example, if prospective buyers are likely to have dogs, we’ll suggest including a utility, and ensure they include an EV charging point in a city centre location.

“If we are involved at a really early stage we can even look at the layout of a scheme, and in the past we’ve suggested rotating the position of properties to maximise the number of south-facing gardens or to ensure there’s sufficient parking or garaging.

“The demographic of new home buyers is changing and people who have typically shied away from these properties are attracted to well-designed houses with minimal maintenance and low running costs.

"My own parents are a prime example of buyers who would traditionally consider a bungalow when downsizing, but are now open to considering an efficient, virtually maintenance-free new home instead.”

"Look past the portal..."
- Peter Hurrell, Land and New Homes Manager

In a digital age, most buyers’ property search starts online, whether it’s a social media post that catches the eye or a filtered study of every house that fits the bill in a geographic area and at a defined price point.

Yet, as many will affirm, a ‘real-life’ viewing can bring a home to life and often shift it from ‘maybe’ to ‘must-have’. This scenario is even more pertinent in the new homes market, particularly when a site is still in development and may need some imagining.

Land and new homes manager Peter Hurrell, pictured above, believes the value of visiting a show home and selecting a plot shouldn’t be underestimated. “Online you only see what someone wants to show you,” explains Peter, “so it’s important to go and have a look, to appreciate a location and to see the quality of the project’s specification.

“The war in Ukraine, energy crisis and global warming mean that buyers are now looking beyond the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and studying the homeowner’s pack far more carefully – never has the efficiency of a home been more important and in this area a new property will usually far outperform a regular, secondhand house.

"We are about to work with a developer on a Passivhaus and this type of building moves things even further forwards in terms of energy efficiency.

“These metrics will be relevant to everybody in the future, and to a growing number of applicants, a property’s non-reliance on fossil fuels is an important aspect of their buying criteria. People want to know how a house has been constructed and the EPC has real status.

"Romantically, many buyers still have the ambition to own a period home, but I think this will evolve. A new breed of buyers are attracted to homes with low running costs and which need less maintenance.”

"A peek over the board."
- Richard Cheal, Land and New Homes Manager

The idea of large new home developments across the country being identical, uniform boxes is slowly being eroded by the creativity of small and mid-sized developers who take huge pride in creating unique sites to suit their local setting.

As a Norfolk agent with an enviable reputation which knows its patch well, a growing number of developers are increasingly asking Sowerbys’ land and new homes team to lend its expertise over the county line in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

“We’ve been asked by several developers to help them at the planning and post-planning stages in these areas,” says land and new homes manager Richard Cheal, pictured above.

“Our new homes programme has been carefully crafted over many years and is so detailed, it often far exceeds our clients’ expectations. We take a proactive management approach which reassesses every unit, every week so we have a clear plan.

"Unlike other agents, whose branches are often in competition with each other, our nine offices work collaboratively. This gives us a unique perspective and we can often reassure clients with the insight this gives us into the market.

“Across Norfolk, the pockets of pricing are so different in villages, towns, suburbs and the city, ranging from £200-700 per square foot. Our approach and knowledge provide us with a methodology which we believe can be adapted and utilised in other counties too.

“There is a similarity between the Norfolk market and certain areas of Suffolk, for example, and, while we are not going out of the way to rush and overstretch our company, we can adopt a similar approach and deliver the same high level of service for our clients in other areas.”

"Finding the chosen one."
- George Berry, New Homes Manager

Buying a new property provides a unique opportunity to choose a location, a plot and often the specification of your future home, but how can buyers best ensure they secure everything on their wish list?

George Berry, land and new homes manager, pictured above, says that, as every development is different, it’s important to work closely with an estate agent to get the best from the search.

“Some will have a show home to view, while others aim to sell off-plan during the build,” George says.

“The latter approach was a strong strategy during the peak market of recent years, but now buyers are looking to make a more informed decision and want to see a finished property with the final specification before committing.

“Typically, a buyer will visit a show home before selecting their chosen site from the brochure and then view the individual plot. Buyers are keen to confirm and secure the position and orientation of their future home and south- and west-facing gardens tend to go first.

"With new homes, the viewing to reservation stage is often quicker than with a second-hand sale. There’s less emotion involved in the decision and buyers are usually in a strong position to proceed.

“At launch, we will have collated as much information as possible, and we have key personnel responsible for each development and viewings which helps them to build a comprehensive knowledge of the site and to answer the questions of prospective buyers.

"They manage reservations and ensure each sale progresses, so often they build a close relationship with a buyer and go on the journey of finding the perfect house with them.”

Looking to buy a new home?

Visit our current developments page or get in touch.