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How might rising interest rates and increases to the costs of living influence your new homes sales strategy?

In April, the average cost of a home reached a record of £286,079. However, with rising interest rates and outrageously fast increases to the cost of living, could house prices have peaked?

On Thursday last week, the Bank of England raised interest rates to 1% from 0.75% to try and fight off increasing inflation, the rate in which is forecast to surpass 10% this year – the highest level since 1982. With our daily lives becoming more and more expensive, this seemingly unstoppable house price growth month on month must come to an end eventually, so at the very least, we should expect a significant slowdown at some point, if not a decline.

Repositioning yourself for this is key as a salesperson in the new home construction industry – as selling homes will become increasingly more challenging, and for first time buyers, increasingly confusing; Will monthly mortgage payments increase? Will deposits need to be higher? Will house prices decrease? These questions are going to be at the forefront of the minds of a new home buyer, which in turn may encourage you to rethink your sales strategy. Here are some ways you might go about doing this.

Offer a range of financing options that minimise borrowing

With rising interest rates, the cost of borrowing will only increase. The word ‘mortgage’ may be enough to terrify first time buyers, so encouraging larger deposits is key. Offering a wide variety of mortgages can help those that may find saving the hardest and help find a solution that can work for them. ‘Green Mortgages’ are new options that offer buyers of energy-efficient homes more favourable terms, ideal for many new home sellers. Learn more about green mortgages here.

Implement educational content into your marketing strategy

Changing your marketing strategy in a way that will help buyers achieve their financial goals might prove to be mutually beneficial. Offer them tips and actions they can take to save more for that deposit. Not only are you helping them achieve their goals, but you are helping them achieve your goals too.

A great example of educational blog formats that help achieve this include ‘top 5s’. Short, punchy content resonates well with a younger audience, the first time buyer demographic.

Communicate the financial benefits of new-build homes over traditional homes

With the cost of living so high mainly thanks to the war in Ukraine, utility bills will be one of the major concern for prospective buyers. New homes have many benefits over traditional homes that help keep these costs low. Communicate these benefits as much as possible as part of your sales and marketing efforts. New homes offer increased energy efficiency benefits as they are built to much higher standard and need to adhere to modern regulations. On average, new build homes are far cheaper to run for this reason alone.

The best thing sales teams can do in times where buyers might be more hesitant than usual is to be as transparent as possible and be as efficient as possible in managing enquiries, so no questions are left unanswered. The sales process doesn’t need to feel like you’re juggling a hundred tennis balls. See how Housebuilder Pro helps sales teams here.

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Bargate Homes sign up for Housebuilder Pro software

Bargate Homes sign up for Housebuilder Pro software

The team at Housebuilder Pro are delighted to welcome Bargate Homes of Hampshire, a new home developer known for their landmark developments, built intelligently and with character.

Andrew French, Sales & Marketing Director at Bargate Homes said

“Signing up for Housebuilder Pro has been a great pleasure. There is something about the team that gives me confidence for a healthy long term commercial relationship. Housebuilder Pro itself impressed us from the outset; we are always looking for ways to improve our internal systems and were impressed to find out that it not only does this but also adds value to the customer experience that we provide.”

Housebuilder Pro also comes with the MyHome Customer Portal, technology previously obtainable by only the largest house builders in the country. Housebuilder Pro offers this in the form of a platform that enables buyers to see a timeline of build stage progress on their smart device, tablet, or computer.

Nick Taylor, Head of Business Development at Housebuilder Pro, said

“We’re delighted to welcome yet another great company to our ecosystem. It was great to visit them recently where we got to learn more about how they operate – all valuable for the longevity and long-term development of the Housebuilder Pro system. Looking forward to seeing the impact we will have and seeing this relationship flourish”.

Simon Jeavons, Chief Operating Officer and Director at Shoothill and Housebuilder Pro said

“The beauty of working in software is that we have the tools to build pretty much anything the client desires. On top of Housebuilder Pro software, Bargate Homes requested a bespoke build management application – a piece of software that will allow the senior management team to have a complete 360-degree view of construction progress, target build dates and notifications of any delays.

This new product will seamlessly integrate with Housebuilder Pro ensuring all teams are kept up to date with the latest construction and sales progress, giving them a little extra boost. With the recent supply shortage in the construction sector and wider economic uncertainty, having this little extra visibility will be invaluable”.

Get a closer look at Housebuilder Pro by booking a free demo here, or get hands on with the system by meeting us at UK Construction Week London between 3-5th May this year.

For a bespoke solution such as the build management application mentioned above, get in touch with Shoothill to find out more.

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Shropshire Chamber Business Awards Finalist 2022

Housebuilder Pro named as a finalist for the Shropshire Chamber Business Awards 2022

We are delighted to announce that Housebuilder Pro has been named as a finalist for the Shropshire Chamber Business Awards 2022.

The Shropshire Chamber Business Awards are an annual event held at Telford’s International Centre in Shropshire.

This year, there are 11 categories; Housebuilder Pro are named finalists in the “Best New Business” category, alongside Quality Medical Group, Shropshire Business Live TV, and Techtimeout – some serious competition and all fantastic companies.

Richard Sheehan, Chief Executive of Shropshire Chamber spoke to Shropshire Live and commented on the level of competitiveness at this year’s event:

“As usual, we have been amazed and delighted by the volume and quality of entries, with record numbers in many categories. Shortlisting each of them down to a final four was a really tough task for our independent judging panel”.

Rod Plummer, Managing Director at Housebuilder Pro’s parent company Shoothill, said

“Being named as a finalist for these awards really does mean a great deal to us. Housebuilder Pro really is on the path to success and we are delighted to see it getting external recognition. Of course, we would really like to win, but being shortlisted alone is an honour and we pass our sincere thanks to the team at Shropshire Chamber and the judging panel. And of course, good luck to all the other finalists!”

The winners will be announced on the evening of June 10th at this year’s ceremony.

 

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Introducing Emailing, featuring Housebuilder Pro

Feature Spotlight: Introducing Emailing

Contrary to belief, email marketing works.

The average open rate sits at around 20%. This doesn’t sound great does it? The average conversion rate (in other words, the amount of recipients that have completed a desired action such as visit your website) sits at somewhere between 2-5%. This sounds even worse right? Wrong, it’s actually fantastic. Having this knowledge allows you to gauge an idea as to how many contacts you need to fulfil your sales and marketing targets with the help of email marketing.

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways of generating leads for a business because of this, and thus, it was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ we were going to add an email module to the Housebuilder Pro system.

So how does it work?

In the Housebuilder Pro Contacts section, you have the option to send a mass email. This automatically generates an audience (a recipient list compiled of all existing contacts), and opens up a pop-up box where you can edit the contents of the email, including the subject, the body and attach any images.

You also have the ability to create and customise your own email marketing templates in the Housebuilder Pro Admin section. The ability to customise templates is a huge time saver; you won’t have to worry about rewriting the structure of your email every time you need to send an email of a certain type, such as new product options and new development announcements.

Book a free demo with us and take a closer look at what Housebuilder Pro has to offer.

 

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Charworth Homes joins the Housebuilder Pro ecosystem

Charworth Homes joins the Housebuilder Pro ecosystem

Charworth Homes of North Lincolnshire are known for their individual and personal homes, built to an exceptional standard. We are delighted to reveal that they are the next residential developer to join our ecosystem, utilising Housebuilder Pro software for their processes.

Nick Taylor, Head of Business Development at Housebuilder Pro spoke highly of the team at Charworth Homes, making a point that “[the team] have an obvious and admirable attitude towards delivering the best possible customer service – something that we can meet with regards to a digital solution”.

Katie Smith, Marketing Manager at Charworth Homes said

“Housebuilder Pro is extremely user-friendly – we love the fact that it has a customer portal, having a positive impact on communication between developer and client while also reducing our admin time so we can focus on other things.

Housebuilder Pro is a sales agent’s best friend. It’s great to see everything in one place.

The team at Housebuilder Pro are very personable and adaptable, and are always keen to hear ideas and improve the system as users see fit. They are always keen to help in any way possible”.

We at Housebuilder Pro get a great amount of satisfaction welcoming customers on board and seeing how their processes improve over time, facilitated by Housebuilder Pro’s toolset. We would love to show you more. Book a free demo here.

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Will the Russian invasion of Ukraine impact the UK housing market?

Will the Russian invasion of Ukraine impact the UK housing market?

Towards the end of last year, we went into great depth about what we thought 2022 had in store for house prices and overall market activity. Experts across the industry were coming forward and making their predictions, most forecasting a slowdown in activity but still a healthy market. The slowdown has already begun, slightly faster than was expected. January saw residential property transactions fall by a fifth compared with the previous month, due to a shortage in new homes for sale, among fast-rising inflation and stark increases in interest rates. What we were not expecting was the invasion of a European country.

Despite this, the UK, fortunately, has a very small amount of UK trade links with Russia. Most of the invasion will be felt in energy bills and gas prices – particularly oil, having hit a seven year high of £74 a barrel yesterday. In a response to these higher costs of living, on top of surging inflation, the Bank of England could think twice about increasing interest rates any further, having already hiked them up twice in the past three months. Uncertainty and increased costs of living could encourage the Bank of England to navigate away from the supposed plan to hike rates up again in March, forecasted by economic experts.

On the contrary, taming inflation has been an obvious goal for the Bank of England since the beginning of the year. Inflation currently stands at 7.5%, the highest it has been in four decades. Economic uncertainty could be enough to deter another hike, but at the current rate of inflation, the Bank of England could be tempted to increase interest rates regardless. This would be the first time since 1997 that interest rates have been raised three meetings in a row.

What would this mean for the housing market?

Higher interest rates, of course, make borrowing more expensive. This has a direct impact on standard variable mortgages. Increases in costs of energy and gas will increase the costs of owning a home and, combining these factors, buyers may be deterred from moving into a new home – possibly encouraging home sellers to lower their prices.

Melissa Lawford of The Telegraph said that “Any rate rise will hit hard in the wake of rapid house price growth that has dramatically reduced affordability. In short, it will trigger the end of the house price boom”.

What do you think? Do you think the invasion of Ukraine might encourage the Bank of England to be wary about further increasing interest rates? Or do you think it does not impact the UK enough for us to make any economic changes?

Do you think the invasion of Ukraine might encourage the Bank of England to be wary about further increasing interest rates?
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Legacy software

Legacy Software: Is it time to upgrade your software system?

Technology moves incredibly fast – you only have to look what was considered a mobile phone in 2001 to what we consider a mobile phone now, to see that, sooner or later, the systems that are piggy backing your internal commercial processes are going to call it a day.

So what is ­legacy software as opposed to just ‘software’? Legacy software is software that has been a part of any business for a long period of time, is no longer supported by the developers of that software, but is still plays an essential role in the continuity of commercial operations. Hardware, as opposed to software, becomes much harder to maintain than software overtime and, if the software is built and tied to a specific OS (operating system) or hardware model, the users of the software may be forced to continue using it, no matter how dated the software may be – resulting in endless frustration as it begins to cough and splutter.

One of the main factors deterring businesses from changing or upgrading their commercial software systems is fears related to downtime, but the reality is, downtime for any software system is inevitable if it is no longer supported – whether that would be the system breaking entirely or you undergoing a much needed upgrade. There is no better time to upgrade your system, but here are a few indicators that let you know that you are ready.

You are paying an extortionate amount of money for a server

These days, everything is online. Housebuilder Pro, like most SaaS (software as a service) packages, work utilising a vendor such as Microsoft. The days of paying for your own servers are long gone for most businesses. If you find yourself paying eyewatering server hosting and maintenance costs still, it may be time for a change.

Different day, same frustrations

If you spend large amounts of time using the system every day, you will get to know the software inside out – and its many potential problems. If these problems are becoming more frequent or more severe, the problem is unlikely to solve itself without any professional intervention. If your system is no longer being supported, you will have to live with these problems, and either inevitably buckle and upgrade, or wait for the day the system breaks entirely and becomes unusable.

Portability hurdles

In a world where working from home is now widely adopted even after the removal of pandemic-related restrictions, your workforce are going to need easy access to internal systems to maximise their productivity. If you find that your systems perform poorly (or fail to work entirely) on portable devices such as tablets and smartphones, your workforce are going to be restricted, and their productivity could be impacted. Even using a laptop or a computer remotely may have boundaries if the correct technical infrastructure is not put in place, such as the ability to access files using cloud technology. Without this technology in place, files can be easily lost.

Functionality restrictions

Like we have mentioned previously, if your company is growing, your systems must grow in parallel. As your company grows, you will find that you will demand much more from your software – such as integrations with your favourite CRM systems and websites. Housebuilder Pro, as an example, has zero limitations to data storage and is updated frequently with new features to suit new home construction companies – ensuring that the system can facilitate the needs of a company of any size.

Whatever stage you are at with your current system, it is never too late to upgrade. An ever growing system, with comprehensive new home sale and property management tools – Housebuilder Pro.

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Housebuilder Pro welcomes new Customer Support Executive, Josh Jones

Shoothill (Housebuilder Pro’s parent company and majority shareholder) is excited to welcome a new employee, Josh Jones, joining as a new Customer Support Executive. Josh will fill an important role, acting as a medium between Housebuilder Pro’s clients and its operations team.

Josh has over 8 years experience in customer-facing roles and a knack for customer service, bringing an infectious happy demeanour to the office.

Josh has always wanted to get into the IT industry, having a background in PC building and programming:

“I used to build computers and sell them, which, from what I hear, is very similar to how Rod and Erik started out back in the 90s before eventually incorporating Shoothill and taking the software route. I have always wanted to join an IT firm; software is such a good industry to be a part of. In such a fast moving industry, it can be incredibly exciting at times. Housebuilder Pro’s rapid growth is reflective of that”.

One of Josh’s main responsibilities will be to ensure that each client is getting the most out of the system and any issues are adhered to and resolved in a punctual manner.

Josh has just finished his first week at the time of writing, adding that he “has never worked in such a friendly environment”.

“I have never been welcomed so well in any job I have had previously. Everyone is always happy to help”.

When asked about hobbies and interests, Josh responded with

“Being a father! There’s not much time to have hobbies and interests these days!”

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5 ways data reports help house builders grow their business

5 ways data reports help house builders grow their businesses

Data can be immensely powerful for decision makers. Multi-layered, complex companies can struggle to collect data from their own operations – a problem that Housebuilder Pro and parent company Shoothill have been solving for hundreds of clients.

Centralised data streams help decision makers take essential steps in driving their business forward. This is no different for house builders; labour shortages and material shortages have made it all-the-more important for decision makers to have easy access to data. But how? How is this data collected, how is it displayed and what are the short and long-term benefits for house builders in being able to access this kind of data?

Let’s take Housebuilder Pro as an example. Housebuilder Pro software collects data that is entered into the system by your team members and displays it to you in a simplified, visual manner in the Reports section. Permitted users are then able to view this data over different time scales, to track performance over the short and long term.

Depending on the type of business you run, you may require access to data types that are unique to you. For Housebuilder Pro, we added the essentials for house builders. Here are the main ways these tools can help you grow your business.

Make sales forecasts

Businesses of all different shapes and sizes have one common goal – to make a profit, of course. To make accurate forecasts and compare them to your end-of-year actuals, you need accurate sales data. Housebuilder Pro’s Reservation & Sales Activity module is synced with the finance and sales finance reports. These reports are generated automatically and can be exported out as a CSV file. Tools like this allow sales staff and decision makers to forecast accurately and create annual reports, without the part where you get buried in paperwork.

Analyse sales progress

Sales teams that have access to their sales progress can see whether they are on track to hit their targets. Decision makers can set targets from this data. Sales is one of the most important functions of a business and being able to closely monitor related data is essential for the long-term financial health of any company, not just house builders. Tracking sales for house builders is made simple due to the normality of online listings; integrating Rightmove has been a major leap for Housebuilder Pro software, automating the centralisation of leads and the generation of financial reports. With all the heavy lifting done in the background by the system and all the data collected at a high degree of accuracy, house builders will be well equipped to make more informed decisions.

Set high quality standards

Companies that generate business through the sale of products are constantly challenged to maintain quality. House builders find it even harder, due to the sheer scale of resources and work that is involved in completing a development. The average new home has an average of 160 snags. This number is staggering, and due to the sheer expense of moving into a new home, quality control can put house builders under a lot of pressure. Visualised data can make it easy to identify patterns and anomalies; consistent snag types may be indicative of poor-quality materials, poorly trained staff, or other reasons – in any case, patterns can only be diagnosed easily with data visualisation tools.

Analyse marketing strategies

Long term marketing efforts are essential to the success of your business. Marketing can be expensive; small builders are going to be conscious about how much is being spent on marketing. Expenditure transparency is possible with real-time reports. Sources of enquiry reports can help analyse marketing efforts and identify which forms of marketing are generating the best results.

Monitor operational efficiency

Measuring operational efficiency is notoriously difficult without technology. There are many ways to measure efficiency, but tracking sales statuses give house builder decision makers oversight on progress from the initial enquiry right through to sales completion. Having access to this data helps you monitor sales that are in progress, how many have been completed and in what time frame. This data can be a useful instrument in the approach to continual improvement.

When new information arrives, decisions are made. The speed and accuracy in which this data is delivered to decision makers can have a large impact on the outcome. There is nothing out there that is faster than real-time reports.

Learn more about Housebuilder Pro Reports here.

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Galion Homes

Galion Ltd next on board with Housebuilder Pro

Galion Ltd, based in Glastonbury, Somerset are well known for their characterful bespoke builds that complement the area’s stunning rural scenery. We are proud to welcome them to the Housebuilder Pro ecosystem.

Nick Taylor, Head of Business Development at Housebuilder Pro said:

“I reached out to Victoria Creber who is the Sales & Marketing Director at Galion and within a day we had a demo scheduled. This is such a fantastic result for both parties. We can’t wait to see how Galion will benefit from the system down the line.”

Galion Homes’ ethos surrounding quality meant that Housebuilder Pro sparked their interest quickly. Galion are always searching for new ways to improve the house buyer journey and their day-to-day property management.

Sean Martin, Sales and Marketing Manager at Galion Homes had this to say:

“We love how user-friendly Housebuilder Pro is. It’s very easy to use; some CRM software overcomplicates things, but Housebuilder Pro simplifies the process and information is readily available for a multitude of job roles across the business.

We like that various departments can utilise the system and brings it all under one roof, maximising efficiency. We also like that the customer can get updates through their portal – exceptional customer service is paramount to us and anything that enhances our customer journey is welcomed.

We are excited about the partnership going forward; we love to work with companies who understand us and our brand. As we grow, we know that Housebuilder Pro will be able to grow with us making our business even more streamlined and efficient across all areas of the business.”

Looking for a way to transform your own customer journey as house builders? Get to know Housebuilder Pro.

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