How developers can capitalise on the city scramble

While the race for space dominated the housing landscape in 2020, city centre flats are once again in high demand, with people rushing back to city living.

On the move
Covid saw people across the UK leaving city centres in droves, opting instead for more space (and possibly a spare room) in larger, more rural properties.

The stamp duty holiday enabled more people to make a move and it was sales of larger homes that fuelled the housing market boom during 2020/2021.

However, industry experts are now beginning to see early signs that this trend is changing, with many reporting that the growth in the price of flats is outstripping the growth in the price of detached homes.

According to the latest figures from Halifax covered widely via the media, November 2021 saw flats selling for 10.8% more than the same time last year, while detached houses were typically fetching only 6.6% more.

Why now?
In addition to the lifestyle benefits to be gained from buying a bigger home during the pandemic, those that were purchasing larger, more valuable homes had the most to gain from the stamp duty holiday. Now the stamp duty holiday is over, balance has arguably been restored.

The reopening of bars, shop and offices will also have increased demand in cities across the UK, as people return to prioritising inner city locations where these options that were unavailable throughout the pandemic are now at their fingertips once more.

Finally, we must also remember that the increase in demand for flats will not just be driven by those taking their first step on the housing ladder. Hargreaves Lansdown reported that people have been withdrawing more money than ever before when re-mortgaging in recent months, indicating that an appetite for a second property may be rising. With the increase in hybrid working, many people may be using this second home for a city centre pad, while they choose to spend most of their time in a more rural location, further fuelling the scramble for city centre properties.

How can developers capitalise on the change?
We know that city centres are by their very nature, crowded markets. Therefore, to capitalise on this renewed demand from buyers and investors alike, developers need to think creatively about how to cut through the noise.

Purchasing priorities have changed, as have target audiences. Developers now need to think beyond the typical ABC1 young professional as the new buyer for their city centre apartments, and ensure they are reaching out to a wide range of potential purchasers.

While advertising can offer brands exposure to a range of diverse audiences, it can be a costly tool and in a market in which buyers are savvier than ever these strategies that may have worked historically may now struggle to genuinely engage consumers. An engaging and exciting PR plan can be an attention-grabbing way of ensuring your properties are front of mind with potential buyers.

One opportunity for developers at the moment is to capitalise on the widespread media coverage around the property market. With the industry rallying following a turbulent year there are more page inches than ever being devoted to covering property related stories which presents a significant opportunity for businesses operating in the sector.

What many developers do well is securing local and regional coverage for progress updates on existing developments. These announcements are an effective way of engaging regional media and attracting local audiences so should not be neglected but given the current climate there is a real opportunity for developers to think bigger and take this to the next level.

While these local interest stories may not engage journalists from outside of your region, the appetite is certainly there from more national and mainstream media outlets, the challenge is how to engage these journalists with your business in particular.

One tactic developers can use to drive media interest is through developing and sharing insightful content around the industry beyond just press releases announcing company news. Whether that be in the form of white papers, data-led research or offering an insider’s perspective on industry trends, the appetite is there at the moment and developers are missing a trick by not making the most of this opportunity. Third party research studies can be segmented in to separate stories focused on different markets, trends or industries and this can be an effective way to ensure maximum RoI as well as delivering coverage over a sustained period.

When it comes to maintaining your presence in the media, the opportunities for reactive commentary are plentiful and can deliver real impact for developers particularly when an industry finds itself in the media spotlight. Ensuring your spokespeople are featured in the industry’s biggest stories can be a sure-fire way of generating widespread awareness as well as building trust in your brand. Selecting an agency with the right contacts to embed your business in to these high-profile stories is critical.

These are just some of the strategies available to developers operating in the current market. If you’d be interested in finding out more about how you can make the most of this opportunity why not get in touch with our team today.

Get in touch with the team