An old saying says that: „You should learn from other people’s mistakes, you won’t have time to make them all yourself”. Having that idea in mind, I think we must learn from both their mistakes and their sucesses, especially when it comes to the real-estate market, which barely begins its development in Romania.
In London, I have recently had the opportunity to meet Gary Patrick, Regional Sales Director for Barratt London, part of the biggest real-estate developer in Great Britain, Barrat Developments. Having over 7.000 homes built only in 2014 (almost the entire market in Bucharest and Ilfov), number including the ones developed in joint venture system, and having a turn-over of 3,2 billion pounds (approx. 4,3 billion euros), Barrat Developments is the largest real-estate developer, with a history of more than 50 years in the residential market.
Being familiar with the salespeople’s „flaw”, not being able to refrain from turning any meeting in a sales pitch, I have built a set of questions in order to receive the information I needed in due time. I was suprised to be pulled into an open conversation, based on dialogue not just about Barratt, but about the residential market in general.
First learnt lesson – Long-term vision
I was curios how one can get to be no.1 in such a competitive market as the one in Great Britain. Gary’s answer was „by having a long term vision”. Even if it is not mentiones specifically in the four priorities of the group (Customer First, Great Places, Leading Construction, Investing In Our People), I realized that, all four combined lead to building value on the long term. Moreover, an important buyers segment is represented by the ones who already live in a Barratt building and who want to upgrade their living conditions in terms of property or location in another site developed by Barratt.
Second lesson – Modesty
I once asked Gary how did they manage to be rewarded with 5 stars in terms of customer satisfaction for 5 consecutive years, according to the Home Builders Federation study. I considered this to be a relevant questions since it is complicated to maintain a high level of quality when you develop immensly in terms of quantity. Gary’s answer was simple: „Each person involved in the development process is responsible for the quality they deliver. Also, there is a designated person who checks the quality level of each development stage, and if he identifies any issue, the problem will be solves as soon as possible.”
The third lesson – We should stop complaining that it is more complicated for us
What does it mean to develop a residential project in London? Excluding the development budgets and only taking into account the authorization and building process, things are very simple in our area. Just to get the authorization can take up to years. In order to get all the necessary authorizations you should satisfy five different factors. You have do think a project for potential buyers, one that also fits the community and neighbours’ requests, one that fits the norms set by the regional and national authorities. All of this has to fit an economically feasible project in accordance with the company’s associates board. Plus, depending on each area you build in, you have a specific number of social houses you need to develop. Just think of what it means to invest in a land today and be able to build on it only after a few years have passed, if you take all the restrictions into account.
The fourth lesson – Diversity, part of success
One of the defining factors for Barratt Developments’ success is variety, the diverse portfolio of properties it has developed. Today, only on Barratt London website we can choose between apartments in 20 different residential projects with costs spread between 215.000 euros and 3,25 million euros. By having such a large pallet of costs and areas, you have the possibility of drawing clients from all market segments.
The fifth lesson – Challenges are the same in any market around the world
At the end of the conversation, when i checked the question list, i realized it had answered all but one: What are the near future challenges? I received two answers, universally valid in any market:
- How sustainable is price rise and when and where will it stop, taking into account that development is a long term process, just as Barratt’s vision.
- The future general elections can bring a change in both legislation and local authority’s priorities regarding the real-estate development process and also fiscal development.
My conclusion, after spending 50 minutes with Gary Patrick was that the residential market in Romania is full of opportunities for the ones who have a long term vision in the field. Even if the buiding and selling of one-two projects can be very attractive on the short term for speculative developers, time will be on the people who invest in quality’s side, the ones who have a concept behing their buildings, the ones who bring in innovative sollutions, the ones who think residential projects for the people who will live there not for their associates or investors.
Gary Patrick is the Regional Sales Director for Barratt London. A background in both estate agency and residential development, Gary joined Barratt London in 1998 and rose quickly through a number of managerial positions before being appointed Sales Director in 2003 and Regional Sales Director in 2010. The Barratt London vision is to make London an even better place to live. Its development portfolio aims to deliver homes for all Londoners, from state of the art penthouses in Westminster to riverside communities in Fulham, to complex, mixed-use regeneration schemes in Hendon. Gary’s in-house sales team has the capacity to sell over 1,600 homes a year, over 80% of which are sold to UK-based purchasers. Alongside sales, Gary is also the regional director responsible for marketing, customer experience and Barratt London’s real estate management business, BRAM; and so is accountable for the end-to-end customer journey and for making the process of buying and owning a Barratt London home an unbeatable experience.
About Barratt London
Barratt London is the market-leading residential developer in the Capital. With over 30 years’ experience we’ve helped – literally – shape one of the world’s most exciting, diverse and dynamic cities. We design, build and sell large, complex residential-led developments tailored to the needs of our customers and stakeholders, as well as local boroughs and communities. Our vision? To make London an even better place to live. And we’re well on our way, thanks to exceptional build quality, our thoughtful design, the way in which we work to inspire strong local communities and with unbeatable customer service. We’ve crafted our portfolio to provide homes for all Londoners, from state-of-the-art apartments and penthouses in Westminster to riverside communities in Fulham, and complex, mixed-use regeneration schemes in Hendon.
Picture Source: Barratt Homes website