Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Dog show sponsorship success


Larkfleet ring dog agility show
We were getting down with the dogs recently at the Empingham Dog Training Club agility show. It was held at Rutland Showground in Oakham and this year we sponsored one of the main competition rings at the show.

More than 1,000 people from across Lincolnshire, Rutland, Leicestershire and beyond came to camp and compete with their dogs - 4,000 of them.

The show is an important event in the dog agility calendar. It plays host to Crufts and Olympia national qualifying days, so top championship judges were officiating at the show. Lynne Shore, one of the country's most respected judges was judging in the Larkfleet Ring on Friday.

Oakham in Rutland is an excellent location for dog lovers who are looking for a new home. Larkfleet Homes has nearby developments at Langham Barns and Buttercross Park in Oakham. Both developments are within easy reach of beautiful countryside to walk your dogs in. Rutland Water is also nearby.

The friendly Empingham Dog Training Club is just up the road. Why not join and improve your dog's training? Who knows? You may have a future Crufts champion on your hands!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Another hamper give-away!


It seems that we're developing a bit of a 'hamper theme' on the blog this week. Yesterday we were writing about a hamper being given away at Thorney Abbey Flower Festival and today it's about another hamper at another local event, Baston in the Blitz.

Karen Brown from Morton was the lucky winner of a Pimms hamper being offered by the Larkfleet Homes team to the crowds who flocked to turn back time to the 1940s and 50s.

Pictured are Larkfleet’s Will Wallace (left) and Mallory Matthews (right) handing over the hamper to Karen.

Larkfleet Homes handing over hamper


We have recently obtained planning consent for a further phase of development at The Croft in Baston. It's too early to say yet when we'll be on site and when the first of the new homes in this over-55s development will be ready - planning permission is just the start of the process.

Watch this space, as they say!

Monday, 28 August 2017

New home for hamper

Let's hope the summer weather holds - because one lucky winner in the raffle at the Thorney Abbey Flower Festival today walked away with a summer picnic hamper. Well, they may not have walked far if they were carrying the hamper. It's heavy!

It has been a delightful warm (or even hot) Bank Holiday Monday (what a change from the traditional British bank holiday weather!) for the event with flower displays in the Abbey and stalls on The Green.  It would be a shame if the weather changes and prevents the hamper being used at the picnic it is designed for.

We've packed it with all sorts of goodies including wine, cheese, biscuits, chutney, jam and more. It really will make a splendid 'al fresco' meal for the lucky winner and a few friends or family.

The Larkfleet hamper for the Thorney Abbey Flower Festival now has a new home

The Larkfleet picnic hamper now has
a new home - until it's used!

We've also been pleased to welcome lots of visitors today at our show home at Thorney Meadows. We're open there all week (and next weekend too) whatever the weather. Why not come and take a look?

Friday, 25 August 2017

When they’re gone – they’re gone

Just two properties remain unsold on the Langham Barns development by Larkfleet Exclusives – a collection of luxury 2 and 3 bedroom bungalows in Barleythorpe on the edge of Oakham.

As you would expect in a Larkfleet Exclusives development the properties are built to the highest standard of traditional craftsmanship and with outstanding attention to detail. Designed with modern living in mind, the homes are spacious and well laid out, with top-of-the- range fittings and fixtures.

Barleythorpe itself is a pretty Rutland village located between the village of Langham and the market town of Oakham which has a wide range of national and independent shops, pubs and restaurants. It is home to Oakham School, a renowned public school, as well as the well-regarded state sector secondary school Catmose College which is located between Barleythorpe and the centre of Oakham. There are a number of nearby primary schools and nursery facilities.

For commuters, the Birmingham to Peterborough railway line runs through Oakham, providing links to both of these cities and to Leicester, London and Cambridge. Road users are well catered for with excellent links across the country.

Naomi and Sally - Larkfleet sales advisors at Langham Barns

Naomi and Sally are waiting for your call.

For further details of a new home at Langham Barns in Oakham please call 01572 722262 and talk to one our sales advisers - Naomi Sarfaty-Wells or Sally Astbury.

If you act swiftly you could get £2,000 towards Stamp Duty, appliances and turf on Plot 4 which is our featured home of the week*.

*Terms and conditions apply.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Midlands property boom

OK – we’re talking property prices again. But when you see a headline like “House prices: Northants leads Midlands 'mini-boom', says Rightmove” you have to take a look, don’t you?

Acccording to a report in The Guardian newspaper, property website Rightmove says that buyers priced out of London are snapping up cheaper homes across the middle of England in locations with good commuting links.

Larkfleet has new homes for sale in Corby

Larkfleet is building in Corby, Northamptonshire, as well as
other Midlands 'property hotspots' identified by Rightmove.

The paper quotes Rightmove as saying that asking prices in Northamptonshire have jumped by 9.1 per cent in the past year.

Apparently locations across the middle of England, not just Northamptonshire, are experiencing a ‘mini-boom’. Counties singled out for comment include Norfolk (where prices are up 7.4 per cent on last year) and Nottinghamshire (7.0 per cent).

Despite these rises, prices in these counties remain much lower than in London where, although the rise over the past year was only 1.6 per cent, the average asking price for a home is more than £629,000.

So, what does it all mean for Larkfleet home buyers? Well, rising prices is good news, we guess, if you already have a house on our latest developments in places such as Corby in Northamptonshire. And maybe they are a bit of a ‘wake-up call’ if you haven’t yet bought.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Larkfleet Homes parent in line for major skills award

Bourne-based housing and development organisation The Larkfleet Group of Companies (www.larkfleetgroup.co.uk), parent company of Larkfleet Homes, has been shortlisted for one of the construction industry’s most prestigious awards.

The group is one of just eight firms nationwide to win through to the final of the ‘Skills Initiative’ category in the Building Awards (http://www.building-awards.com/building-awards-2017-shortlist/).

The judges have been impressed by Larkfleet’s support for a number of training initiatives. These include not just its own apprenticeship and graduate recruitment programmes but also its backing for local colleges and schools and its sponsorship of the Greater Peterborough University Technical College (GPUTC).

Students at GPUTC with the model house donated by Larkfleet

Photo caption: Students at GPUTC working with the model house
donated by the Larkfleet Group of Companies.

GPUTC is based in a £12 million state-of-the-art building that opened in September 2016 in the centre of Peterborough. It focuses on engineering and the built environment, providing courses for 14 – 19 year olds, and aims to educate the city’s future engineers, designers, architects and construction specialists.

Larkfleet has been involved with GPUTC since before the first plans were drawn up and group CEO Karl Hick sits on the school’s board of governors.

Steve Warburton, principal and CEO of GPUTC, says: “Larkfleet’s support is invaluable to our students. The company is assisting us to provide real hands-on experience of industry that helps to prepare students for the world of work.”

Combining academic study, vocational training and practical work experience, GPUTC delivers education based on ‘learning by doing’. It guarantees all its graduates a job interview with one or more of its industry sponsors at the end of their time at the school.

High standards reflecting workplace practices are the norm. Expectations of attendance, punctuality and conduct reflect those in the best of workplaces.

To assist with students’ learning, Larkfleet has given GPUTC a scale model of a typical timber-framed house built by Larkfleet Homes which can be taken apart and re-assembled using a set of drawings which Larkfleet has also supplied.

The model helps the school’s students studying the built environment to understand how a modern house is put together as well as getting to grips with topics such as architectural design and planning.

The model house has proved to be such a success at GPUTC that a similar one has now been produced for New College Stamford – one of several other colleges with which Larkfleet has developed relationships.

Larkfleet is working with younger age groups in schools as well. It recently hosted a visit by year five and six pupils from Cottesmore Millfield Academy at its building site in Oakham during which the youngsters interviewed staff about careers in the construction industry.

Karl Hick says: “Investing in the future of the construction industry by supporting local young people in their training and development has always been part of Larkfleet’s ethos.

“Continuous investment in training is essential for the future of this industry. Construction and home building are becoming high-tech operations. The industry will increasingly require more of the brightest and best young people in all trades and professions.

“The type of people we will need to support successful housebuilding in the future will range from ‘hands-on’ craft and trades people for our construction sites to engineers, scientists and technicians who will shape the industry’s future in research and development laboratories.

“We believe housebuilders must invest in training and provide young people with the skills that will shape the future for the UK construction industry. Otherwise the industry has no future.”



Saturday, 19 August 2017

Thanks for a record year

Thanks to our fantastic customers, Larkfleet Homes has just completed a record year.

In the twelve months to the end of June 2017 the company built 399 homes, an 83 per cent increase on the previous year. Financial turnover was almost £80 million for the year, up from £49 million in 2016.

Larkfleet building new homes

The figures include results from both our brands – Larkfleet Homes which builds timber-framed homes and Allison Homes which builds traditional ‘brick and block’ constructed homes.

The core of our activity is still in Peterborough, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland. However, we have recently launched subsidiaries in Scotland, the South West of England and in Norfolk & Suffolk – extending our reach across most of mainland Britain.

We are hoping for even better results this year. The new South West England operation which sold 20 homes last year plans to sell more than twice that number this year. Other parts of the company are also expected to substantially increase sales.

Larkfleet recently secured a £35 million loan from Cheyne Capital Management to finance our expansion plans. The loan will enable us to expand the company’s operations and invest in existing and new sites.

Larkfleet is already one of the UK’s top 50 housebuilders and this funding will allow us to grow even more.

Karl Hick, CEO of Larkfleet Homes, said: “The house building industry has been through some difficult years recently. However, I am pleased to say that Larkfleet weathered the storms of the recession and we are rapidly expanding our activities.

“We are now building more houses on more sites than ever before.

“In all the places where we are active we are delivering high quality and energy-efficient new homes that will enable people to ‘get a foot on the property ladder’ and help to tackle the nation’s housing crisis.”

And we couldn’t do any of this without the people who have bought our new homes. We are very grateful for your support.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Spurs top of Premier league – for house prices

New research from Halifax shows that Tottenham Hotspur is top of the league when it comes to house price growth. "Watch us rise" seems particularly good as a slogan!

Halifax looked at house prices of properties near the grounds of all 49 football clubs that have played in the Premier League since 1992 over the past 20 years to see which areas had done best and worst in terms of price growth.


The research found that, since 1997, the average home value in the postal district surrounding Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium has risen over seven and a half times (655 per cent), from around £60,000 in 1997 to more than £450,00 now.

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said: “As we welcome the 26th Premier League season, it appears that success on the field has rubbed off on property prices in the areas surrounding the grounds of many of the nation’s top flight clubs.

“In the last 20 years, average house prices immediately outside some of the country’s top clubs have seen rises that far outstrip the country as a whole, with some areas also benefiting from the associated infrastructure improvements that come with clubs moving to new stadiums.”

The average house price near all 49 past and present Premier League football clubs has risen by an average of almost £244,000 (equivalent to 326 per cent). Current Premier League sides have performed better than those relegated with a rise of £234,000 (336 per cent) compared to £250,000 (320 per cent), although both outpace the average growth of £207,000 (283 per cent) for England and Wales as a whole.

West Ham United are runners up with house price growth of 611 per cent  whilst Charlton Athletic, with growth of 583 per cent, is the highest for a club no longer in the top flight (relegated 2007).

The top 20 clubs in terms of house price growth are split evenly between previous and current Premier League sides.

Last year’s Premier League champions Chelsea take the title for the most expensive area to live, with an average house price of more than £1,108,000 for homes around Stamford Bridge. North London rivals Arsenal (£763,000) and Tottenham Hotspur (£450,000) are in second and third place respectively.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

House building slowing? Not at Larkfleet!

Latest figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC) show that the number of new homes built in both the East of England and the East Midlands in the second quarter of this year – the three months from April to June – were lower than in the same three months last year.

Across the UK as a whole, 40,343 new homes were registered during this period in 2017, a marginal 1 per cent decrease on the 40,810 registered 12 months ago.

29,123 homes were registered in the private sector, representing a 7 per cent decrease on the same period a year ago (31,381), with 11,220 new homes registered in the affordable sector, a 19 per cent increase on 2016 numbers (9,429).



The continued rise in the affordable sector can be attributed to a number of larger housing associations developing homes for market rent, private sale and shared ownership along with a rise in joint ventures with the private sector.

Six out of the 12 UK regions experienced growth in registrations, when compared to the same period last year. West Midlands, Scotland and Wales were among the regions with most notable growth.

Commenting on the latest new home statistics, NHBC Business Development Director Neil Jefferson said: "New home registrations have remained stable in the second quarter of this year, with some areas of the UK seeing significant increases in registration volumes.

"With demand for housing as strong as ever, the growth seen in the affordable sector is particularly encouraging."

At Larkfleet – active mostly in the East of England and East Midlands – we’re pleased to say we are building more homes on more sites than ever before.

You can check out what we are currently doing on the development page of our website here. And you can see the full NHBC statement here.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Where to buy to avoid the bombs?

In what probably takes the prize for the worst taste publicity stunt in the housing market this year, estate agency Emoov has published a map showing the impact of nuclear weapons on the UK if the nation’s top 20 cities were targeted by missile strikes.

The move followed escalating tensions between North Korea and the USA with some ‘nuclear sabre rattling’ by both sides last week. Fortunately, the rhetoric seems to have calmed down a little this week, so we are maybe not facing nuclear apocalypse in the immediate future. And, looking on the bright side (if there is one), the UK is out of range of current North Korean missiles and is presumably not likely to be a target for American bombs.

But, going along with Emoov’s analysis, where would you buy a house to stay out of range of the missiles?



The only current Larkfleet development clear of the blasts on the Emoov map is Pinchbeck Fields near Spalding. Even our development at Bonnybank near Leven in Scotland would be affected by the anticipated missile strike on nearby Edinburgh and our developments near Taunton in the rural South West of England would be overwhelmed by the impact of a missile hitting Bristol.

So far, Emoov’s analysis has had no impact on house prices and we’ve not had a flood of enquiries in Pinchbeck from nervous citizens. But we could not resist bringing you this piece of poor-taste nonsense news. Does this make us as bad as Emoov (we rather fear that it might ….)?

If you do want to know more, Emoov appears to have removed the map from its own website in the face of a storm of criticism but you can still find the original on several news websites such as the Daily Mirror here.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Lifetime Homes

It's good to plan ahead. You're fit and healthy now but life can throw up some unwelcome surprises.

Lifetime Homes are ordinary homes designed to incorporate 16 design criteria. Each feature adds to the comfort and convenience of the home and supports the changing needs of individuals and families at different stages of life.

Lifetime housing is designed to the Lifetime Homes Standard making them suitable for most occupants, including some (but not all) wheelchair users and disabled visitors, without the need for substantial alterations.

From raising small children to coping with illness or dealing with reduced mobility in later life, Lifetime Homes make the ups and downs of daily living easier to manage.

A selection of Larkfleet Homes are built to the Lifetime Homes standard.

For more information visit www.lifetimehomes.org.uk.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Act fast to get Help to Buy?

The government’s Help to Buy scheme allows you to own 100 per cent of a new Larkfleet home with just a 75 per cent mortgage and a 5 per cent deposit. The remaining 20 per cent of the purchase price is paid for through an equity loan from the government (subject to approval).



The scheme is not only open to first-time buyers – anyone can benefit. There are details on our website or talk to one of our sales advisors for more information.

However, you may need to be quick to take advantage of Help to Buy. National newspapers say that the government has embarked on a review of the scheme, which could result in it being wound down or replaced before its scheduled end in April 2021.

Help to Buy was launched by then Chancellor George Osborne in April 2013 in an attempt to make buying a home more affordable. However, research conducted for the government found that 57 per cent of those who signed up to it said they could have afforded to buy without access to the scheme.

So new Chancellor Phillip Hammond may – say the newspapers – change or scrap the scheme in the Budget in November 2017.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Make your house your own - hot decorating trends

If you’ve just moved into a new home you will be thinking about how to decorate. To help you think about colours and styles we’ve brought together below news and views of what’s hot (or do we mean cool?) in decorating this year.

The ideas of what’s trending in 2017 below are taken from sources such as Vogue, Houzz, House Beautiful, The Daily Telegraph and Pinterest.

Don’t be a slave to fashion, though - let your decor reflect your own personality and style. After all, you’ve got to live with it!

Colour

Blue, it seems, is one of the ‘in’ colours for this year. Navy and cobalt seem to be particularly favoured shades.

Green, too, is a favourite with leading designers in 2017. From lime green to emerald, the green theme can be used throughout the home in anything from a wall colour to a rug. If large areas of green seem a little over-powering you can add lighter touches such as emerald glasses to your table setting.

Or you can skip the big, bold colours entirely and go for ‘neutrals’ such as whites, beiges, pale greys, camel and blush pink.

Romantic bedroom colours like deep ruby red, raspberry, caramel and black will be popular in 2017. According to a recent Houzz survey, ‘intimate or romantic’ is the third-most desirable vibe when it comes to master bedrooms, after ‘calming’ and ‘cosy’.

In the kitchen, designers say that white is the ‘in’ colour mixed with wood accents to help the look from becoming too boring or sterile. Consider using a full wall of tile rather than a traditional ‘backsplash’.

Constructing an island in a contrasting colour is also becoming popular to break up an all-white kitchen look. And the days when things such as freezers came in a limited choice of colours (white or, er, white) are over – consider adding appliances in the same colour as the island.


Themes

Tropical seems to a leading theme this year – featuring in everything from wallpapers and huge prints to small collectable items.

One designer has dubbed the year’s theme as ‘jungalow’. It may be freezing outside, but it’s time to go tropical indoors.

Texture

Using texture as part of an interior design can make it both more interesting and more inviting. This year’s trend seems to be to mix fabrics and materials.

Marble and brass, features of designs in 2016, will continue to be a key theme in 2017 and bring a mix of different textures to the room – the cold, hard, marble blending and contrasting with the warm bronze.

Lighting

Changing the lighting in a room can give it a completely different feel. But it’s not just the light itself but also the light fittings which contribute to the style of the room. A ‘quirky’ lighting fixture can be a real feature.

Bedside pendant lights that hang from the ceiling are a striking and practical feature, as they can free up space in small bedrooms.

Well positioned mirrors in frames that match the d├ęcor style can help to maximise the natural lightning in a room – and they don’t use any electricity!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

What's going on with house prices?


As we’ve said before, we’re not obsessed with house prices. But, let’s be honest, if you own a house or are thinking of buying one, you’re bound to be sort of interested, aren’t you?

So, what can we all make of the latest house price report from Halifax?


Well, according to this major mortgage provider, average prices went up in July. But not by much - just 0.4 per cent.

And over the most recent ‘quarter’ (the three months from May to July) as a whole, they actually fell by 0.2 per cent compared with the quarter from February to April. This is the fourth quarter in a row in which average house prices have fallen.

According to the government, the number of houses being sold in the UK is falling. After exceeding 100,000 for five successive months, home sales fell by 3 per cent between May and June to 96,910. This is the lowest level since 96,740 in October 2016.

So, what’s going on? It is all a bit confusing.

It seems that the Halifax has been seeing a levelling off in prices. But maybe, looking at July’s figures, that is coming to an end. Or maybe not. We shouldn’t read too much into figures from just one month – that’s why the survey lays such a lot of stress on quarterly figures.

Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax Community Bank, said:

“House prices continue to remain broadly flat, as they have since the start of the year. Prices in the three months to July were marginally lower than in the preceding three months, while the annual rate of growth has edged down from 5.7 per cent in January to 2.1 per cent in July; the lowest rate since April 2013.”

And, if you want to take a longer-term view, Halifax points out that house prices in July 2017 were 10 per cent above their August 2007 peak just before the 'financial crisis' that started that year. The average house price of £219,266 is £64,603 (42 per cent) higher than its low point of £154,663 in April 2009 in the middle of that crisis.

Looking at what you actually get for your money, the average price for a square metre of house across Britain has increased by 236 per cent over the past 20 years, from £672 in 1997 to £2,260 in 2017.

It will be interesting to see what the data shows in three months’ time. Rising prices may be good if you own a house but are clearly bad news if you have yet to get onto the ‘property ladder’.

Whether you are moving up that ladder, down-sizing or trying to take your first step, Larkfleet is here to help. Check out the various schemes we have for helping with house purchase on our website.



Friday, 4 August 2017

House building continues to accelerate

It’s important when you’re running a business to keep an eye on what’s happening in your industry. So at Larkfleet we are always interested in the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index.


The rather lengthy title refers to a monthly survey of purchasing managers in construction companies.

OK – it’s not the most exciting read to hit the bookshops this week. But it does tell us a bit about what’s happening in the construction industry.

The index covers all types of construction activity, ranging from bridge and road building through construction of factories and offices to the building of houses.

The good news overall is that the index remains ‘positive’ – that is, purchasing managers expect continued growth in UK construction in the months ahead. The slightly less good news is that the index overall has dropped from 54.8 in June to 51.9 in July, the lowest figure since August 2016.

In among the ‘mixed messages’ we see that residential building was the strongest performing category of activity in July.

And we are pleased to say that at Larkfleet we are ‘doing our bit’ to push up the figures. We are currently building more homes in more places than we have ever done before.

You can see all our latest developments here. It is probably more interesting than reading the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Latest house price news

It sometimes seems that us Brits are obsessed with house prices. We certainly have more than our fair share of surveys, indexes, expert commentary and news coverage on the topic.

So – even though you are not, obviously, obsessed – would you like to have the latest news on this topic?

Well, the Nationwide Building Society House Price Index published yesterday says that prices are showing ‘modest’ signs of growth after several months of decline at the start of the year.

According to the index, house prices rose 0.3 per cent month-on-month in July, lower than in June when they rose by 1.1 per cent but higher than between March and May when prices actually fell.

Taken over the year, it means that annual house price growth to the end of July was 2.9 per cent, a little lower than June’s figure of 3.1 per cent. The average UK house price is now £211,671 - a new record according to Nationwide.


Commenting on the figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist (that’s him in the picture), said:

“The annual pace of house price growth remained broadly stable in July. On the surface, this appears at odds with recent signs of cooling in the housing market.

“The number of housing transactions dipped to their lowest level for eight months in June, while in the same month the number of mortgages approved for house purchase moderated to a nine-month low of around 65,000.

“But a lack of homes on the market appears to be providing support, with annual house price growth remaining only just outside the 3 per cent to 6 per cent range that has been prevailing for most of the past two years. This pattern looks set to be maintained in the near term.”

So the message from the survey seems to be - if you are a first time buyer - that now is the time to buy if you can afford to 'get onto the property ladder'. Prices still seem to be rising faster than wages.

Well, I guess we would say that, wouldn't we? But if you are thinking of moving from an existing home or buying your first property, take a look at what Larkfleet Homes can offer on our website here.