One-on-One Interview: Karl Hick of Larkfleet Group


Thursday 3rd May 2012

Karl Hick is MD of Larkfleet Homes

Name and business title: Karl Hick, managing director of Larkfleet Group, of which Larkfleet Homes is the flagship company.

Where is your firm developing new homes?
Larkfleet Homes has housing developments across the East of England and East Anglia. Locations in these regions where Larkfleet currently has developments include Oakham in Rutland, Deeping St James and Bourne in Lincolnshire and Eye in Peterborough. One of Larkfleet's most recent developments is Leighfield Park in Oakham, Rutland that will offer traditional styled two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom properties starting from £143,995.

What types of properties are Larkfleet Homes building? Larkfleet builds a wide variety of high quality homes that meet the needs of first-time buyers, commuters, expanding families, those looking to downsize and even those wanting to join age exclusive retirement communities. Larkfleet properties range from one to five-bedroom properties and include apartments, bungalows, cottages and stylish semi-detached, terraced and detached homes.

How much does a Larkfleet home cost to buy? Larkfleet aims to provide properties that suit a range of housebuyers in different financial situations. Prices of Larkfleet properties vary depending on the location and size of home. Larkfleet's Abbeyfields development, for example, comprises two- and three-bedroom properties with prices starting at just £125,000 to £174,995. House prices at the exclusive StableYard development in Oakham start at £234,995 for a three-bedroom property that also includes a home office. Larkfleet's newest development in Oakham, Leighfield Park, offers properties starting from just £143,995

Through Larkfleet's many schemes and initiatives, the company aims to assist homebuyers as much as possible in buying a Larkfleet property.

What makes a Larkfleet home stand out from the crowd? Larkfleet Homes is leading the way in reducing the ‘carbon footprint' of new homes, building houses for sale that are more energy-efficient than those of any other builder operating in the same area.

Its mission is to produce high quality sustainable developments using innovative technology and construction methods, delivered to exceed customers' expectations.

On selected developments, homebuyers are offered PV (photovoltaic) panels as standard.

Larkfleet adopts sustainable development principles with many of its dwellings built to level 3 or 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes incorporating environmentally friendly and renewable technologies.

For example, many of Larkfleet's properties are built using timber frame construction that allows homes to be built swiftly and economically to the current requirements (and beyond) of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Larkfleet also uses ‘modern methods of construction' to reduce its waste in comparison to traditional construction.

Larkfleet Group is hoping to develop an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in Rutland that is expected to produce up to 1.3 megawatts of electricity from locally grown agricultural material - enough energy to supply the equivalent of over 2,350 homes - including homes on a new Larkfleet development.

Have you noticed any particular buying trends recently?
The difficult economic climate has meant a slight decrease in property sales as many people cannot afford thee expense of moving home - especially first-time buyers, many of whom cannot afford the deposits required to purchase their first property. Larkfleet is committed to helping first-time buyers take that important first step onto the housing ladder by utilizing its many schemes and financial initiatives designed with first-time buyers in mind. Larkfleet's Ezy-share scheme can help first time buyers or people in need of some extra space with a growing family own to their perfect property - even if they do not quite have the funds to cover the sale price. With the scheme, Larkfleet Homes will pay 15% of the property value while homebuyers pay for 85%. Customers then have ten years in which to pay back the 15%. This amount does not incur any interest over the ten years. With this scheme and others, Larkfleet continues to help first-time buyers purchase their first home.

Larkfleet has also enjoyed a huge amount of interest in its retirement communities for those aged 55 and over. The Croft in Bourne, Lincolnshire and The Spinney in Cambridgeshire both offer high quality retirement properties in a community setting. The Croft development consists of 68 dwellings comprising seven different housetypes arranged around attractively landscaped courtyards in the grounds of The Croft - a former ‘manor house'. The historic manor house is being restored to its former glory to form the ‘community hub' of the development.

Is your company currently offering any incentives or discounts to homebuyers? Larkfleet understands that buying a property is a huge investment and can be a financially stressful time. To help its homebuyers, Larkfleet has developed many schemes and initiatives to make buying a home that little bit easier. Larkfleet's suite of Ezy initiatives, for example, includes:

• Ezy-exchange: Larkfleet could take a buyer's existing home in part-exchange for a new Larkfleet home. The scheme means that the purchaser is not caught in a ‘chain' of buyers and sellers and there are no estate agents' fees for selling the existing property.

• Ezy-move: Similar to part exchange but Larkfleet does not actually buy the existing home - instead it helps to sell it while reserving a chosen Larkfleet home. Larkfleet will pay all estate agency fees.

• Ezy-share: Buyers can purchase a new Larkfleet home but pay only 85% of the initial cost. Larkfleet will pay the remaining 15% and the purchasers then have ten years to pay the company back - with no interest added to the cost.

• Ezy-money: If buyers use the services offered by Larkfleet's recommended financial advisers and solicitors to complete their purchase, Larkfleet will give them cheques to the value of £500 to use in its ‘Just for You Centre' where they can choose accessories to personalise their home. Because Larkfleet's recommended professionals are familiar with the company's properties they can provide an exceptionally fast and efficient service.

• Ezy-give: Young people buying their first home can get onto the property ladder earlier than would otherwise be possible if family or friends will lend them 20% of the purchase price. The homebuyers will have a smaller mortgage at a lower interest rate and the relatives or friends lending the money will get a five per cent return on their investment.

• Ezy-forces: Assists people from the armed forces to purchase a new home. Benefits include payment of a five per cent deposit, payment of up to £500 towards legal costs, carpets, turfed gardens and a £2,000 voucher to spend in the ‘Just for You Centre'.

Which Larkfleet development potentially offers the best property investment prospects? Larkfleet Homes has an excellent reputation for building high quality energy-efficient homes.

Larkfleet adopts sustainable development principles, with many of its dwellings built to level 3 or 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes incorporating environmentally friendly and renewable technologies and building methods such as timber frame construction.

The housebuilder believes that these building methods mean that homebuyers will gain extra added value in the long term due the energy-efficiency that is built into the fabric of its properties.

Larkfleet is also confident that it is the only housebuilder in the area to offer its customers renewable energy technologies.

Larkfleet Homes is currently offering the installation of photovoltaic panels (PV) - that produce energy from daylight - on a selection of developments.

The installation of PV panels will benefit homeowners for years to come due to the government's Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme that encourages the development of small scale renewable energy generation.

Under the FIT scheme, electricity companies are required to pay homeowners for all energy generated by the PV panels and an additional amount for any that is ‘exported' to the grid. Homeowners can also reduce their electricity bills by using the energy they generate.

With increasing energy prices, Larkfleet properties are an investment for the future. The energy-efficient nature of Larkfleet homes could save homebuyers up to £600 a year in fuel bills.

Larkfleet offers excellent property quality and size for only a fraction of the price of those in the capital, yet Central London is less than 50 minutes away from Peterborough station - a mainline train station within 20 miles of many Larkfleet developments.

The close proximity of Larkfleet properties to London means the area is ideal for professionals who travel to the capital on a daily basis. Professionals who rent a Larkfleet property can benefit from the convenient transport links to London as well as the rest of the country.

Larkfleet properties are not just conveniently located for professionals. Many Larkfleet developments are located close to come of the countries best schools and universities.

Larkfleet's development in Eye, near Peterborough is only approximately 30 miles from Cambridge, home to Cambridge University, regularly ranked as one of the top ten universities in the world.

Larkfleet also has developments close to some of the best schools in the country such as the prestigious Oakham, Uppingham and Stamford secondary schools.

Families can enjoy the rural idyllic settings of Larkfleet properties whilst benefiting from excellent schools and easy access to communication and transport links around the country.

With house prices rising in many areas where Larkfleet boasts developments, now is the ideal time to buy and invest in a high quality property to ensure an excellent return on your investment in the future.

What is Larkfleet's USP to buyers? Larkfleet has an enviable reputation for producing high quality sustainable developments using innovative technology and construction methods, delivered to exceed its customers' expectations. Larkfleet believes that other builders in the area simply cannot offer the same added value that its focus on energy-efficiency provides customers.

Larkfleet is committed to assisting homebuyers in the moving process and offers many schemes and incentives to make moving into a Larkfleet Home as stress-free as possible. The Homeowners Club is a scheme Larkfleet has set up as a ‘thank you' for those who purchase a Larkfleet property. As part of the scheme, each Larkfleet homebuyer will be given a credit card-sized Homeowners Club card to enable them to receive discounts with hundreds of different companies throughout the UK.

Larkfleet's suite of Ezy initiatives, for example, can help homebuyers in various circumstances secure a Larkfleet property - even if they have not yet sold their own home.

Larkfleet has even developed a new homebuyers guide for its Abbeyfields development in Bourne.

Some Larkfleet properties are also available through the government-backed FirstBuy scheme. With the help of FirstBuy, homebuyers have the chance to take up a five-year interest-free loan meaning they could own a Larkfleet home sooner than they thought. Purchasing a Larkfleet property could even be cheaper than renting a property with the help of FirstBuy.
As a local housebuilder, Larkfleet has a great knowledge of its development locations and offers high quality homes in fantastic locations - many of which where homeowners can enjoy rural living whilst still having access to excellent transport links around the country

Has Larkfleet Homes ever won a What House? Award? Larkfleet Homes won a Silver Whathouse? Award in 2009 for its sustainable development practices. The company is also entering the ‘best retirement development' category of the awards this year. The entry will focus on the The Spinney, a development of high-quality, modern homes for people over 55 years of age in Yaxley, near Peterborough.

The Spinney development is situated within an existing residential part of the Cambridgeshire village and consists of 14 one- and two-bedroom duplex apartments, with lift access to all two-bedroom apartments.

Larkfleet Homes was recently named as best over 50s housing developer in the world at the Global Over 50s Housing Services Awards. The honour rewards Larkfleet's commitment to help meet the need for high quality housing in the local area for those over 50 years of age.

New Homes by Larkfleet Homes

Help to Buy
Abbeyfields, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 9LE
NOW AVAILABLE from £122,396
Abbeyfields offers a range of high quality two and three bedroom properties on the edge of the Lincolnshire market town of Bourne. Situated in an...
Other Incentives Available
Glen Grange
Glen Grange, Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire, PE11 3PQ
NOW AVAILABLE from £110,458
Local homes, for local people - affordable by design
First Buy
Leighfield Park
Leighfield Park, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 6US
NOW AVAILABLE from £91,996
Leighfield Park offers a range of traditionally styled one, two, three, four and five bedroom properties to suit those looking for a quality home in...
The Coppice
The Coppice, Deeping St James, Market Deeping, Lincolnshire, PE6 8ED
NOW AVAILABLE from £110,360
The Coppice is Phase two of a new development of quality homes in the small historic and picturesque village of Deeping St James. The estate offers a...
The Croft
The Croft, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 9AS
NOW AVAILABLE from £129,995
The focal point of the development is a former manor that was built by a wealthy local businessman. The manor house will be restored as part of the...
Help to Buy
The Garage
The Garage, Bourne Road, Thurlby, Lincolnshire, PE10 0DZ
NOW AVAILABLE from £155,960
A new development of 3 and 4 bedroom homes on the outskirts of the Lincolnshire market town of Bourne.
Help to Buy
The Hedgerow
The Hedgerow, Oakham, Rutland, LE15
NOW AVAILABLE from £123,996
The Hedgerow is part of Oakham Heights, a new development of eco-friendly homes with SOLAR PANELS as standard on selected properties built by...