Property: Luxuries in the house of cards

Even builders are finding that loyalty points work, writes Felicity Cannell

WE'RE USED to getting loyalty points from petrol stations and supermarkets. Now even housebuilders are getting in on the act. The "loyalty card" from Regalian is a unique buyer's incentive offering discounts on future house purchases. The Gold Card has been issued to all customers who bought a property in the last two years, and gives discounts of up to pounds 15,000 on the purchase price of future properties.

Bulk buying doesn't happen very often in the residential property market, but Regalian customers have responded to the marketing ploy: in the last phase at Atlantic Wharf in London Docklands, 39 of 45 properties were sold to cardholders.

The big cash discount makes the usual developers' enticements of a choice of free carpets and curtains look tame. But the incentives are the result of the pressure on homebuilders to sell developments off-plan, before construction has been completed or even started. The more incentives they offer, the more properties are sold off-plan.

Honeygrove Properties sells around 70 per cent of its country houses off-plan. The company likens its bespoke service to a couture house, working with customers at the planning stage to create an "individual" home. "By personalising their homes, our customers can express their personality and freedom of choice concerning all aspects of the design of their home," says Andrew Henry, sales and marketing director. "Honeygrove can be compared with companies such as Gucci or Dior." With prices at Springwood Park, a development of country houses and apartments near Tonbridge, Kent, reaching pounds 1.5 million, this seems a fair comparison.

In most new developments customers can choose the colours on the walls. With Wates' Built Homes Bespoke service they can now choose where the walls go. Depending on the stage of construction, interior walls can be moved or altered where possible to create the desired living space. An interior designer is on hand to help with colours, layouts and effects.

But in the cramped confines of the city, soft furnishings and specially- created interiors are less of a priority. City dwellers want state-of- the-art security, a doorman, health club and parking space. FPD Savills says parking is now a "must have" for central London buyers. In Galliard Homes' County Hall and White House developments on the South Bank, each parking space costs pounds 15,000 and pounds 16,000 respectively. Galliard and Regalian both promote residents' parking as a key feature.

However, there are some car-free schemes such as Berkeley Homes' development in Farringdon Road and proposed developments in Camden where, if you buy, you won't even be eligible for a council parking permit. Disallowing car ownership can hardly be seen as a fringe benefit but Dugald Gonsal, Camden borough engineer, believes there is a large market for car-free homes.

Gymnasiums are often included to tempt a younger crowd with health concerns, both for themselves and the environment.

Residents may pay a higher service charge, although with London health clubs charging around pounds 700 in annual fees, this could almost be deemed a free facility.

At Canary Riverside, a big new development in Docklands, the "extras" are so numerous the brochure says it is like "living in a whole new city". Alison Dean, of Canary Riverside, says: "The the mix of hotel, health spa, swimming pool and tennis court makes Canary Riverside stand out. The spa is proving a powerful magnet; it will be the only one in London with a hydro pool and range of thermal sequence therapies, including laconium, an Osman steam cabin, snail showers and heated ceramic relaxation couches." A whole new city? More like a whole new planet.

Crosby Homes plans health clubs in developments in Nottingham, Birmingham and Leeds, but only for city centre schemes. Presumably out-of-towners haven't realised the advantages of working out in a stuffy gym over a run in the park.

But for those who look further afield than the basement or rooftop for exercise and a social life, some of the financial incentives offered by homebuilders may be more attractive. There are schemes that take the hassle out of buying and selling, and help with other costs, such as moving, estate agents' commission and legal fees.

Barratt pioneered the part-exchange service more than 25 years ago: it purchases a buyer's existing home so they can move to a Barratt home. The early 1990s property slump forced other builders to do the same, and Persimmon Homes, Fairclough and Wates Homes still offer similar services. Frank Eaton, the Barratt Group chairman, says: "We believe in making homebuying as easy as possible and our purchase packages are very popular." As well as part-exchange (only offered for upgrading) Barratt offers the Agency Selling Service for buyers moving "sideways" or to a cheaper home. The company markets and (hopefully) sells the property with no commission.

Barratt and Beazer Homes have schemes offering first-time buyers the chance to move for just pounds 99. Residents pay the fee, move in and get five months' grace from mortgage payments to save up a deposit. In some cases the deposit is halved or waived altogether, but the firms stress that these deals are not a case of giving with one hand and taking away with the other: mortgages are arranged through the main high street lenders at standard rates, and properties are sold at market value.

If you don't want a gym, swimming pool, parking space or even a heated ceramic relaxation couch, but simply a home of your own, this is an incentive which takes some beating.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week