Many major property developers have embraced the art of blogging on their websites and produce articles that are interesting, informative and engaging. I’ve read a hefty amount of material that does this ever so well, but there’s a few glaring omissions from some major players.
As a devotee of new-builds and a serial homebuyer, I don’t think I’m untypical of many buyers.
I look for new developments online, visit their microsite, examine site plans, house types and availability. If the area is unfamiliar, I’d check out Google maps, proximity and reputation of local schools, access to town and country.
On the company website, or even development microsite, there’s at least 15 topics that I’d find useful and I’m convinced others may.
- Location. Not just the marketing speak but really good location information like how close is the nearest primary school or high school, whether there’s shops to hand, or walking and cycling from the doorstep. Persimmon do this well. Others don’t. It’s useful. All developers should do it.
- Running costs. We all take car manufacturers’ mpg figures with a bucket of salt – but a new build’s energy costs aren’t measured in a vacuum like those VWs. Give the average monthly cost of gas, electricity and water – I can tell you for this Hadleigh home precisely – £80 per month for all three.
- Construction methods. Timber framed or brick and block? Types and styles of windows – hardwood or uPVC. Colour of roof. You get the idea?
- Schools. New developments attract families as a rule of thumb – I’d like to know distances and reputations of schools close to the development.
- Play areas. Are there going to be any? Or will there be any public open spaces?
- Public transport. Bus routes and train information for example.
- Testimonials. Now I know many big housebuilders sometimes get bad press – but they don’t highlight the positive feedback they get. Some positive reviews should be on websites.
- Floorplans. I remember fondly when new builds showed radiators, power points, telephone sockets, washing machine and dishwasher points on floorplans but they seem to have disappeared – I think developers should include detailed plans for would-be buyers.
- Broadband options. A page alone could be dedicated to this on developers’ websites, talking about modems, routers, fibre-optic cabling, download speeds and consumer choice.
- Customisable options. I’m sure before the first fit phase buyers would like clearly costed options so they can choose a double oven not a single, go for better flooring than the cheap free stuff, choose to have an integral garage made into another room etc. Local builders who can add a garden home office etc.
- Area guides. Where is the nearest town? What amenities does it offer? Bluebell Meadow (where we live) mentions it is under 30 miles to Norwich – but that fine city could occupy 10 blog posts on its own merits. 23 miles or 40 minutes’ travel time to Norwich would make this development even more appealing.
- Leisure facilities nearby. I’ve been writing Design Access Statements and many of the criteria named there – like railway stations, schools – could offer a blueprint for content marketing. Why don’t developers mention the nearest David Lloyd, Nuffield or Bannatynes? The closest cinemas and theatres? The nearest public swimming pools?
- Landscape and walks. I’ve only recently unearthed great walks from the doorstep – why don’t developers name walking routes, describe the local landscape, rather than relying on estate agent speak like “a stone’s throw away from … a beach, woods, a river?”
- Financial and legal advice. Just some generalised advice on the types of mortgages available, how conveyancing works, what is the difference between exchange and completion, Help to Buy etc.
- Snagging. New homes all develop faults – some major, others minor, so an outline of what to do in the event of a toilet blocking, a path subsiding, brickwork cracking, doors sticking, walls cracking etc – plus some general advice on how to hang blinds and poles on those walls – would be welcomed.
If you’re a property developer at a national or local level and are thinking “this sounds like a good content strategy” drop me an email or ring me directly on 07462923476 to see how this property blogger can answer questions your buyers will have – and enhance your marketing strategy.