Supply and Demand Issues mean Stotfold Property Values Rise by 9.23% in the Last 12 Months

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The most recent set of data from the Land Registry has stated that property values in Stotfold and the surrounding area were 9.23% higher than 12 months ago and 31.21% higher than January 2015.

Despite the uncertainty over Brexit as Stotfold (and most of the UK’s) property values continue their medium and long-term upward trajectory. As economics is about supply and demand, the story behind the Stotfold property market can also be seen from those two sides of the story.

Looking at the supply issues of the Stotfold property market, putting aside the short-term dearth of property on the market, one of the main reasons of this sustained house price growth has been down to of the lack of building new homes.

The draconian planning laws, that over the last 70 years (starting with The Town and Country Planning Act 1947) has meant the amount of land built on in the UK today, only stands at 1.8% (no, that’s not a typo – its one point eight percent) and that is made up of 1.1% with residential property and 0.7% for commercial property. Now I am not advocating building modern ugly carbuncles and high-rise flats in the Cotswolds, nor blot the landscape with the building of massive out of place ugly 1,000 home housing estates around the beautiful countryside of such villages as Astwick, Hinxworth and Ickleford.

 

182 fixed graph on land usage

 

The facts are, with the restrictions on building homes for people to live in, because of these 70-year-old restrictive planning regulations, homes that the youngsters of Stotfold badly need, aren’t being built. Adding fuel to that fire, there has been a large dose of nimby-ism and landowners deliberately sitting on land, which has kept land values high and from that keeps house prices high.

Looking at the demand side of the equation, one might have thought property values would drop because of Brexit and buyers uncertainty. However, certain commenters now believe property values might rise because of Brexit. Many people are risk adverse, especially with their hard-earned savings. The stock market is at an all-time high (ready to pop again?) and many people don’t trust the money markets. The thing about property is its tangible, bricks and mortar, you can touch it and you can easily understand it.

The Brits have historically put their faith in bricks and mortar, which they expect to rise in value, in numerical terms, at least. Nationally, the value of property has risen by 635.4% since 1984 whilst the stock market has risen by a very similar 593.1%. However, the stock market has had a roller coaster of a ride to get to those figures. For example, in the dot com bubble of the early 2000’s, the FTSE100 dropped 126.3% in two years and it dropped again by 44.6% in 9 months in 2007… the worst drop Stotfold saw in property values was just 16.73% in the 2008/9 credit crunch.

Despite the slowdown in the rate of annual property value growth in Stotfold to the current 9.23%, from the heady days of 13.88% annual increases seen in mid 2015, it can be argued the headline rate of Stotfold property price inflation is holding up well, especially with the squeeze on real incomes, new taxation rules for landlords and the slight ambiguity around Brexit. With mortgage rates at an all-time low and tumbling unemployment, all these factors are largely continuing to help support property values in Stotfold (and the UK).

For more thoughts on the Stotfold Property Market, please visit the Stotfold Property Market Blog: http://www.stotfoldpropertyblog.co.uk

 

Stotfold’s interest only ticking time-bomb?

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According to my research, of the 3,978 properties in Stotfold, 1,906 of those properties have mortgages on them.  90.25% of those mortgaged properties are made up of owner-occupiers and the rest are buy to let landlords (with a mortgage).

However, this is the concerning part, 412 of those Stotfold mortgages are interest only. My research also shows that, each year between 2017 and 2022, 12 of those households with interest only mortgages will mature, and of those, 3 households a year will either have a shortfall or no way of paying the mortgage off. Now that might not sound a lot – but it is still someone’s home that is potentially at risk.

 

Stotfold 178 Graph 1.png

 

Theoretically this is an enormous problem for anyone in this situation as their home is at risk of repossession if they don’t have some means to repay these mortgages at the end of the term (the typical term being 25 to 35 years). Banks and Building Societies are under no obligation to lengthen the term of the mortgage and, when deciding whether they are prepared to do so or not, will look at it in the same way as someone coming to them for a new mortgage.

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when endowment mortgages were all the rage, having an endowment meant you were taking out an interest only mortgage and then paying into an endowment policy which would pay the mortgage off (plus hopefully leave some profit) at the end of the 25/35-year term. There were advantages to that type of mortgage as the monthly repayments were lower than with a traditional capital repayment and interest mortgage. Only the interest, rather than any capital, is paid to the mortgage company – but the full debt must be cleared at the end of the 25/35-year term.

Historically plenty of Stotfold homeowners bought an endowment policy to run alongside their interest only mortgage. However, because the endowment policy was a stock market linked investment plan and the stock market poorly performed between 1999 and 2003 (when the FTSE dropped 49.72%), the endowments of many of these homeowners didn’t cover the shortfall. Indeed, it left them significantly in debt!

Nonetheless, in the mid 2000’s, when the word endowment had become a dirty word, the banks still sold ‘interest only’ mortgages, but this time with no savings plan, endowment or investment product to pay the mortgage off at the end of the term. It was a case of ‘we’ll sort that nearer the time’ as property prices were on the rampage in an upwards direction!

Thankfully, the proportion of interest only mortgages sold started to decline after the Credit Crunch, as you can see looking at the graph below, from a peak of 43.81% of all mortgages to the current 8.71%.

 

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Increasing the length of the mortgage to obtain more time to raise the money has gradually become more difficult since the introduction of stricter lending criteria in 2014, with many mature borrowers considered too old for a mortgage extension.

Stotfold people who took out interest only mortgages years ago and don’t have a strategy to pay back the mortgage face a ticking time bomb. It would either be a choice of hastily scraping the money together to pay off their mortgage, selling their property or the possibility of repossession (which to be frank is a disturbing prospect).

I want to stress to all existing and future homeowners who use mortgages to go in to them with your eyes open. You must understand, whilst the banks and building societies could do more to help, you too have personal responsibility in understanding what you are signing yourself up to. It’s not just the monthly repayments, but the whole picture in the short and long term. Many of you reading my blog ask why I say these things. I want to share my thoughts and opinions on the real issues affecting the Stotfold property market, warts and all. If you want fluffy clouds and rose tinted glasses articles – then my articles are not for you. However, if you want someone to tell you the real story about the Stotfold property market, be it good, bad or indifferent, then maybe you should start reading my blog regularly.

For more thoughts on the Stotfold Property Market – visit the Stotfold Property Blog on: http://www.stotfoldpropertyblog.co.uk.

 

Great investment opportunity not to be missed……!

Our Satchells sales team in Stotfold are marketing this one bedroom apartment in the neighbouring town of Arlesey.  Just round the corner from the station, with an asking price of £129,950 and potential rental yield of 5% this will go quickly!

Call the Stotfold office now on 01462 733730.

 

6.82 Babies born for each new home built in the Stotfold area

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As more babies are being born to Stotfold and  Central Bedfordshire mothers, I believe this increase will continue to add pressure to the over stretched Stotfold property market and materially affect the local property market in the years to come.

On the back of eight years of ever incremental increasing birth rates, a significant 6.82 babies were born for every new home that was built in the Central Bedfordshire Council area in 2016.  I believe this has and will continue to exacerbate the Stotfold housing shortage, meaning demand for housing, be it to buy or rent, has remained high.  The high birth rate has meant Stotfold rents and Stotfold property prices have remained resilient, even with the challenges the economy has felt over the last eight years, and they will continue to remain high in the years to come.

This ratio of births to new homes has reach one its highest levels since 1945 (back in the early 1970’s the average was only one and a half births for every household built).  Looking at the local birth rates, the latest figures show we in the Central Bedfordshire Council area had an average of 66.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.  Interestingly, the national average is 61.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 and for the region its 67.6 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.

166 - National Graph JPEG (fixed graph) - to be used to add weight to your local graph

The number of births  from Stotfold  and Central Bedfordshire women between the ages of 20 to 29  are close to the National average, but those between 35 and 44 were much higher.

 However overall, the birth rate is  still increasing and when  that fact is  combined  with the ever-increasing life  expectancy in the Stotfold area, the high levels of net migration into the area over the last 14  years (which I talked about in the previous articles)  and the  higher predominance of single person households … this can only mean one thing … a huge increase in the need for housing in Stotfold.

Again, in a previous article a while back, I said more and more people are having children as tenants because they feel safe in rented accommodation.  Renting is becoming a choice for Stotfold people.

The planners and politicians of our local authority, central Government and people as a whole need to recognise that with individuals living longer, people having more children and whilst divorce rates have dropped recently, they are still at a relatively high level (meaning one household becomes two households) … demand for property is simply outstripping supply.  The simple fact is more Stotfold properties need to be built, be that for buying or renting.

Only 1.1% of the Country is built on by houses.  Now I am not suggesting we build tower blocks in the middle of the  Stotfold Nature Reserve , but the obsession of not building on any green belt land should be carefully re-considered.

Yes, we need to build on brownfield sites first, but there are not  hundreds of acres of brownfield sites in Stotfold, and what brownfield sites there are, building on them can only work with complementary public investment.  Many such sites are contaminated and are not financially viable to develop, so unless the Government put their hand in their pocket, they will never be built on.

I am not saying we should crudely go ‘hell for leather’ building on our Green Belt, but we need a new approach to enable some parts of the countryside to be regarded more positively by local authorities, politicians and communities and allow considered and empathetic development.  Society in the UK needs to look at the green belts outside their leisure and visual appeal, and assess how they can help to shape the way we live in the most even-handed way.  Interesting times

What will the General Election do to 3,077 Stotfold Homeowners?

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In Stotfold, of the 3,978 households, 1,171 homes are owned without a mortgage and 1,906 homes are owned with a mortgage. Many homeowners have made contact me with asking what the General Election will do the Stotfold property market?  The best way to tell the future is to look at the past.

I have looked over the last five general elections and analysed in detail what happened to the property market on the lead up to and after each general election. Some very interesting information has come to light.

Of the last five general elections (1997, 2001, 2005, 2010 and 2015), the two elections that weren’t certain were the last two (2010 with the collation and 2015 with unexpected Tory majority). Therefore, I wanted to compare what happened in 1997, 2001 and 2005 when Tony Blair was guaranteed to be elected/re-elected versus the last knife edge uncertain votes of 2010 and 2015 … in terms of the number of houses sold and the prices achieved.

Look at the first graph below comparing the number of properties sold and the dates of the general elections:

168 Graph One

It is clear, looking at the number of monthly transactions (the blue line), there is a certain rhythm or seasonality to the housing market. That rhythm/seasonality has never changed since 1995 (seasonality meaning the periodic fluctuations that occur regularly based on a season – i.e. you can see how the number of properties sold dips around Christmas, rises in Spring and Summer and drops again at the end of the year).

To remove that seasonality, I have introduced the red line. The red line is a 12 month ‘moving average’ trend line which enables us to look at the ‘de-seasonalised’ housing transaction numbers, whilst the yellow arrows denote the times of the general elections. It is clear to see that after the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections, there was significant uplift in number of households sold, whilst in 2010 and 2015, there was slight drop in house transactions (i.e. number of properties sold).

I then wanted to consider what happened to property prices. In the graph below, I have used that same 12-month average, housing transactions numbers (in red) and yellow arrows for the dates of the general elections but this time compared that to what happened to property values (pink line):

168 Graph Two

It is quite clear none of the general elections had any effect on the property values.  Also, the timescales between the calling of the election and the date itself also means that any property buyer’s indecisiveness and indecision before the election will have less of an impact on the market.

Finally, what does this mean for the landlords of the 388 private rented properties in Stotfold?  As I have discussed in previous articles (and just as relevant for homeowners as well) property value growth in Stotfold will be more subdued in the coming few years for reasons other than the general election. The growth of rents has taken a slight hit in the last few months as there has been a slight over supply of rental property in Stotfold, making it imperative that Stotfold landlords are realistic with their market rents. However, in the long term, as the younger generation still choose to rent rather than buy the prospects, even with the changes in taxation, mean investing in buy-to-let still looks a good bet.  If you want to find out more about the Stotfold property market or need some advice please feel free to pop into the office, phone us on 01462 894565 or e-mail us at: lettings@satchells.co.uk.

 

39 Properties For Sale in Stotfold … is this a good time to sell?

image12017 has started with some positive interest in the Stotfold property market.  Taking a snap shot of the Stotfold property market for the first quarter of 2017, the picture suggests some interesting trends when it comes to the number of properties available to buy, their asking prices and what prices properties are actually selling for.

Let us first consider the number of properties for sale, compared to   twelve  months ago:

Stotfold 159 Table 1

When we add in building plots and other types of properties that do  not   fit into the four main categories, that means there are 39 properties for sale today compared with 15 a year ago, a rise of 160%.

Secondly, Stotfold asking prices, compared
to the same as a year ago, are 3.96% higher..

With that in mind, I wanted to look at what property was actually selling for in Stotfold. Taking my information from the Land Registry, the last available six months property transactions for SG5 4 show an interesting picture (note the Land Registry data is always a few months behind due to the nature of the house buying process and so March 2017 is latest set of data). The price shown is the average price paid and the number in brackets is the number of properties actually sold.

Stotfold 159 Table 2

What does all this mean for the property
 owning folk of Stotfold?

With more property on the market than a year ago and asking prices 3.69% higher, those trying to sell their property need to be mindful that buyers, be they first timers, buy to let landlords or people moving up the Stotfold property ladder have much more price information about the Stotfold property market at their fingertips than ever before.

Stotfold 159 Graph.png

Those Stotfold people who are looking to sell their property in 2017, need to be aware of the risks of over pricing their property when initially placing it on the market. Over the last 12 months, I have noticed the approach of a few Stotfold estate agents is to suggest an inflated asking price to encourage the homeowner and secure the property to sell on their books. The down side to this is that when offered to the market for the first time, buyers will realise it is overpriced and will not waste their time asking for a brochure. They will not   even view the property, let alone make an offer. So when the price is reduced a few months later, the property has become market stale and continues to be ignored.

Whilst the Stotfold property market has an unassailable demand for property, there is one saying that always rings true:

As long as the property is being marketed
at the right price it will sell.

If you want to know if your Stotfold property is being marketed at the right price, send me a web link and I will give you my honest opinion.

Stotfold’s ‘Generation Trapped’ and the £702.5m legacy

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I have previously written an article on the plight of the Stotfold 20 something’s often referred to by the press as ‘Generation Rent’.  Attitudes to renting have certainly changed over the last twenty years and as my analysis suggested, this change is likely to be permanent. In the article, whilst a minority of this Generation Rent feel trapped, the majority don’t – making renting a choice not a predicament. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) predicted that the private rental sector is likely to grow substantially by 1.8m households across the UK in the next 8 years, with demand for rental property unlikely to slow and newly formed households continuing to choose the rental market as opposed to buying.

However, my real concern for Stotfold homeowners and Stotfold landlords alike, is our mature members of the population of Stotfold.  Currently OAP’s (65+ yrs in age) in Stotfold are sitting on £282.9m of residential property.  However, what about the ‘Baby Boomers’, the 50yr to 64yr old Stotfold people and what their properties are worth – and more importantly, how the current state of affairs could be holding back those younger generation renters.

In Stotfold, there are 672 households whose owners are aged between 50yrs and 64yrs and about to pay their mortgage off.  That property is worth, in today’s prices, £255.2m. There are an additional 433 mortgage free Stotfold households, owned by 50yr to 64yr olds, worth £164.4m in today’s prices, meaning…

Stotfold 156 Graph

Stotfold Baby Boomers and Stotfold OAP’s are sitting

on £702.5m worth of Stotfold Property

These Stotfold Baby Boomers and OAP’s are sitting on 1,850 Stotfold properties and many of them feel trapped in their homes, and hence I have dubbed them ‘Generation Trapped’.

Recently, the English Housing Survey stated 49% of these properties owned by the Generation Trapped, as I have dubbed them, are ‘under-occupied’ (under-occupied classed as having at least two bedrooms more than needed). These houses could be better utilised by younger families, but research carried out by the Prudential suggest in Britain it’s estimated that only one in ten older people downsize while in the USA for example one in five do so.

The growing numbers of older homeowners who want to downsize their home are often put off by the difficulties of moving. The charity United for all Ages, suggested recently many are put off by the lack of housing options, 19% by the hassle and cost of moving, 14% by having to de-clutter their possessions and 14% by family reasons such as staying close to children and grandchildren.

Helping mature Stotfold (and the country) homeowners to downsize at the right time will also enable younger Stotfold people to find the homes they need – meaning every generation wins, both young and old. However, to ensure downsizing works, as a Country, we need more choices for these ‘last time buyers’.

Theresa May and Philip Hammond can do their part and consider stamp duty tax breaks for downsizers, our local Council in Stotfold and the Planning Dept. should play their part, as should landlords and property investors to ensure Stotfold’s ‘Generation Trapped’ can find suitable property locally, close to friends, family and facilities.

 

12 properties a year need to be bought in Stotfold to satisfy tenant demand

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The good old days of the 1970’s and 1980’s eh … with such highlights lowlights as 24% inflation, 17% interest rates, three day working week, 13% unemployment, power cuts … those were the days (not)… but at least people could afford to buy their own home. So why are the 20 and 30 something’s not buying in the same numbers as they were 30 or 40 years ago?

Many people blame the credit crunch and global recession of 2008, which had an enormous impact on the Stotfold (and UK) housing market. Predominantly, the 20 something first-time buyers who, confronting a problematic mortgage market, the perceived need for big deposits, reduced job security and declining disposable income, discovered it challenging to assemble the monetary means to get on to the Stotfold property ladder.

Credit crunch

However, I would say there has been something else at play other than the issue of raising a deposit – having sufficient income and rising property prices in Stotfold. Whilst these are important factors and barriers to homeownership, I also believe there has been a generational change in attitudes towards home ownership in Stotfold (and in fact the rest of the Country).

Back in 2011, the Halifax did a survey of thousands of tenants and 19% of tenants said they had no plans to buy a home for themselves. A recent, almost identical survey of tenants, carried out by The Deposit Protection Service revealed, in late 2016, that figure had risen to 38.4%, with many no-longer equating home ownership to success and believing renting to be better suited to their lifestyle.

You see, I believe renting is a fundamental part of the housing sector, and a meaningful proportion of the younger adult members of the Stotfold population choose to be tenants as it better suits their plans and lifestyle. Local Government in Stotfold (including the planners – especially the planners), land owners and landlords need an adaptable Stotfold residential property sector that allows the diverse choices of these Stotfold 20 and 30 year olds to be met.

This means, if we applied the same percentages to the current 826 Stotfold tenants in their 237 private rental properties, 317 tenants have no plans to ever buy a property – good news for the landlords of those 91 properties. Interestingly, in the same report, just under two thirds (62%) of tenants said they didn’t expect to buy within the next year.

Does that mean the other third will be buying in Stotfold in the next 12 months?

155 Stotfold

Some will, but most won’t … in fact, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) predicts that, by 2025, that the number of people renting will increase, not drop. Yes, many tenants might hope to buy but the reality is different for the reasons set out above.

The RICS predicts the number of tenants looking to rent will increase by 1.8 million households by 2025, as rising house prices continue to make home ownership increasingly unaffordable for younger generations.  So, if we applied this rise to Stotfold, we will in fact need an additional 99 private rental properties over the next eight years (or 12 a year) … meaning the number of private rented properties in Stotfold is projected to rise to an eye watering 336 households.

With 826 people in Private Rented Properties in Stotfold – Should you still be investing in Stotfold Buy To Let?

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If I were a buy to let landlord in Stotfold today, I might feel a little bruised by the assault made on my wallet after being (and continuing to be) ransacked over the last 12 months by HM Treasury’s tax changes on buy to let. To add insult to injury, Brexit has caused a tempering of the Stotfold property market with property prices not increasing by the levels we have seen in the last few years. I think we might even see a very slight drop in property prices this year and, if Stotfold property prices do drop, the downside to that is that first time buyers could be attracted back into the Stotfold property market; meaning less demand for renting (meaning rents will go down). Yet, before we all run for the hills, all these things could be serendipitous to every Stotfold landlord, almost a blessing in disguise.

Stotfold has a population of 9,636, so when I looked at the number of people who lived in private rented accommodation, the numbers astounded me …

Table 153 - Stotfold

Graph 153 StotfoldGraph2 153 Stotfold

Yields will rise if Stotfold property prices fall, which will also make it easier to obtain a buy to let mortgage, as the income would cover more of the interest cost. If property values were to level off or come down that could help Stotfold landlords add to their portfolio. Rental demand in Stotfold is expected to stay solid and may even see an improvement if uncertainty is protracted. However, there is something even more important that Stotfold landlords should be aware of: the change in the anthropological nature of these 20 something potential first time buyers.

I have just come back from a visit to my wife’s relations after a family get together. I got chatting with my wife’s nephew and his partner.  Both are in their mid/late twenties, both have decent jobs in Stotfold and they rent. Yet, here was the bombshell, they were planning to rent for the foreseeable future with no plans to even save for a deposit, let alone buy a property. I enquired why they weren’t planning to buy? The answers surprised me as a 40 something, and it will you. Firstly, they don’t want to put cash into property, they would rather spend it on living and socialising by going on nice holidays and buying the latest tech and gadgets. They want the flexibility to live where they choose and finally, they don’t like the idea of paying for repairs. All their friends feel the same. I was quite taken aback that buying a house is just not top of the list for these youngsters.

So, as 8.6% of Stotfold people are in rented accommodation and as that figure is set to grow over the next decade, now might just be a good time to buy property in Stotfold – because what else are you going to invest in?  Give your money to the stock market run by sharp suited city whizz kids – because at least with property – it’s something you can touch – there is nothing like bricks and mortar!

 

 

Has the rental sector in our town changed forever?

People

The Stotfold housing market has gone through a sea change in the past decades with the Buy-to-Let (B-T-L) sector evolving as a key trend, for both Stotfold tenants and Stotfold landlords.

A few weeks ago, the Government released a White Paper on housing. I have had a chance now to digest the report and wish to offer my thoughts on the topic. It was interesting that the private rental sector played a major part in the future plans for housing. This is especially important for our growing Stotfold population.

In 1981, the population of Central Bedfordshire stood at 211,700 and today it stands at 274,000.

Graph 157 Biggleswade

Currently, the private rented (B-T-L) sector accounts for 8.3% of households in the town.  The Government want to assist people living in the houses and help the economy by encouraging the provision of quality homes, in a housing sector that has grown due to worldwide economic forces, pushing home ownership out of the reach of more and more people. Interestingly, when we look at the 1981 figures for homeownership, a different story is told.

64.03% Stotfold people owned their own home in 1981

26.28% Stotfold people rented from the Council or Housing Association in 1981

 and 9.44% Stotfold rented from a Private Landlord     

The significance of a suitable housing policy is vital to ensure suitable economic activity and create a vibrant place people want to live in. With the population of Central Bedfordshire set to grow to 349,266 by 2037 – it is imperative that Central Bedfordshire District Council and Central Government all work actively together to ensure the residential property market doesn’t hold the area back, by encouraging the building and provision of quality homes for its inhabitants.

One idea the Government has proclaimed is a variety of measures aimed at encouraging the Build-to-Rent (B-T-R) sector (instead of the B-T-L sector). These include allowing local authorities to proactively plan for B-T-R schemes, and making it simpler for B-T-R developers to offer inexpensive private rented homes.

To do this, the government will invent a distinct affordable housing class for B-T-R, called ‘Affordable Private Rent’, which will oblige new homes builders to provide at least 1 in 5 of a new home developments at a 20% discount on open-market rents and three year tenancies for tenants. In return, the new home builders will get better planning assurances.

Private landlords will not be expected to offer discounts, nor offer 3-year tenancies – but it is something Stotfold landlords need to be aware of as there will be greater competition for tenants.

Over the last ten years, home ownership has not been a primary goal for young adults as the world has changed. These youngsters expect ‘on demand’ services from click and collect, Amazon, Dating Apps and TV with the likes of Netflix. Many Stotfold youngsters see that renting more than meets their accommodation needs, as it combines the freedom from a lifetime of property maintenance and financial obligations, making it an attractive lifestyle option.

Private rented housing in Stotfold and Central Bedfordshire, be it B-T-L or B-T-R, has the prospective to play a very positive role.