I'm currently in the process of buying a house, and can't help feel that the process could be an awful lot more efficient and enjoyable for all concerned. I'd like to explain a few of my thoughts for you on this below. It revolves around the legendary Huf Haus and pull systems.
Let me begin with how things have been during my own purchase. I am buying a new build property in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. As I suspect is common for most new build developments in Britain, the developers build the houses they think will sell, and then advertise those houses to punters based on plans, show homes and the like. So you're basically getting the house they're offering you rather than the house you really want. From the developers perspective they're using market research (presumably) to decide what kind of house to build, and then hoping the market responds well.
I chose the property I was going to buy and paid my first deposit back in October/November of last year. I will finally have the keys to the property at the end of this month. So it's taken 5 months to build, thus making me wait an awfully long time to get hold of my property, and of course making the developer wait an awfully long time to get their cash.
Now pull systems traditionally work the other way round. In a pull system you wait until something is ordered before it is constructed. Huf Haus's are the living embodiment of this philosophy in the housing world. These houses are designed to order. So the customer tells the company what they want. The house is then put together in the factory, and shipped to the site flat pack style, where it is constructed in a matter of days. This rapid process means the customer gets exactly what they want in double quick time, and the developer gets their cash super fast as well.
The only flipside of the Huf Haus is that because each house is designed from fresh, they tend to be quite expensive to buy. Could there not be a model sitting somewhere in the middle though? Imagine for instance that the developer has a plot of land available for a 2 bedroom house. They then have several designs of such a 2 bedroom house available to buy. Shoppers can browse the website for the property they'd like to build on that particular plot of land. They then choose the one they want and go ahead and place the order.
Because there are only a few designs available, the developer can use modern manufacturing techniques to have the components of these designs manufactured in days. The parts are then trucked to the site, where the pre-fabricated property is constructed Huf Haus style in a few days, and is then handed over to the new property owner.
Now because the number of designs is reasonably small, they can be built en masse, thus keeping costs down. Because the time between purchase and construction is much less, cash flow isn't so much of an issue, which should also keep costs down, whilst at the other end you're giving buyers much more control over the house they're about to buy.
Now I'll confess right now that I'm not a property expert, but is this too much to ask?