Have property developers gone soft?

Jeremy Dodd

The process of procuring, marketing and selling homes has its challenges, but in the UK a shortage of buyers isn’t one of them. Of course there are times when economic uncertainty leads to a lack of buyers, but the current challenge is to meet the ever-increasing demand for properties.

Given this, residential developers don’t have as much incentive as other sectors to communicate in a holistic way. Site-by-site they market and sell what they produce very effectively. The industry is well-staffed with professional sales teams versed in the mechanics of communicating their product and ‘getting away’ the required number of units.

But beyond the immediate needs of sales the developers are less impressive and the corporate messages aren’t being communicated (though there are some notable exceptions, some of which we have had the honour to represent). Concerned about upsetting planners or offending any number of other ‘partner’ organisations, developers have adopted a touchy-feely, nice-to-everyone image that does not properly reflect what they are.  They are successful private companies producing a product for which there is strong demand and making a significant contribution to our local and national economy. This is the message that should be celebrated.

So it is vital that these qualities are strongly promoted, and not just by the creditable House Builders Federation as often seems to be the case at the moment. While the HBF does a good job it is no substitute for a coherent corporate communications campaign like those devised and implemented by companies in other industries. Developers deserve to have their success shouted from the roof-tops and for this to happen they have to start communicating the business values behind that success.