A property portal specialising in new-builds aims to make house hunting fast, fun and efficient. Sharon Dale reports.
When Martin Hoyle began his search for a new-build home, he assumed it would be straightforward. The reality was frustrating and time consuming but rather doing what most of us do, ranting and drowning our stress in a large glass of wine, he decided to tackle the problem head-on.
Using his own experience of house hunting, his IT skills and his love of logic and order, he came up with the idea for a brand new property portal.
With the help of colleagues at award-winning Leeds-based digital agency, Pixel Builders, he also built it.
The website, www.newhomefinder.co.uk, specialises in newly-built properties and it is now being rolled out nationwide after being successfully trialled in Yorkshire.
Martin says: “The idea came from buying my first home. I knew I wanted a new-build so I did a lot of online research on what was available. I was amazed at how long that took.
“If you search for a new home via the popular portals like Rightmove, rather than bringing up one development in your search area, they bring up every single plot on that development. This can stretch over six pages, which is overwhelming and time consuming. I knew I could improve that.”
The New Home Finder site is very different. Instead of listing each and every plot, it lists the development along with prices, house types and deals available. There is also an option to click straight through to the developer’s own website.
A HUB section allows you to compile a shortlist of properties, useful information and even interiors schemes you want to copy. There will also be discount codes and deals from retailers
“The HUB is a digital scrapbook and you can save preferred properties, information linking to useful traders and pictures from anywhere, including Pinterest. Once you’ve bought there’s no reason why you wouldn’t come back to use the HUB,” says Martin.
“It’s a bit like when you get married and you create a folder of cuttings and a present list. You can also add people to your HUB so they can share your journey and maybe learn a few things from it.”
A section offering advice and information about the buying process includes explanations of the various new-build offers. These include the government’s Help to Buy equity loan scheme and the Help to Buy Isa, along with incentives such as part-exchange.
“Buying a new home is often very different to buying a second-hand one and our site aims to help people through that. By offering all the information that people need, you have an educated buyer who already knows quite a lot before they contact the developer,” says Emma Aspland, commercial director of New Home Finder.
Those who have backed the site include high profile developers, along with a team of non-executive team of property professionals. They have all chipped in with ideas.
Miller Homes Chartford, Beal, Parklane, Strata and Redrow are among those who advertise. Part of the appeal is that buyers can click straight through to their websites, which the other portals don’t allow.
“They also like the fact that we are very digitally focused. We also have live data on page views and leads, which means we know which areas are popular. That is helpful in terms of land buying.
“We have put a big emphasis on making sure the site works quickly on mobile devices. It is built for speed,” says Martin.
New Home Finder, which charges developers a listing fee of £50 per site per month, is already off to a flying start without one.
It has recorded a one per cent conversion rate from viewing online to enquiring, which sounds minimal until you compare it with the market average, which is 0.1 per cent.
“The idea is that it is a one-stop shop for anyone who wants to buy a new home and there are definitely more people who want new,” says Emma Aspland.
“It’s a time thing: people just want to buy a house, walk in, switch it on and start living. They don’t want to spend their spare time doing DIY or tackling a project.”