Shefford First Time Buyers Mortgages taking 33.9% of their Wages

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I received a very interesting letter the other day from a Shefford resident.  He declared he was a Shefford homeowner, retired and mortgage free.  He stated how unaffordable Shefford’s rising property prices were and that he worried how the younger generation of Shefford could ever afford to buy.  He went on to ask if it was right for landlords to make money on the inability of others to buy property and if, by buying a buy to let property, Shefford landlords are denying the younger generation the ability to in fact buy their own home.

Whilst doing my research for my many blog posts on the Shefford property market, I know that a third of 25 to 30 year olds still live at home. It’s no wonder people are kicking out against buy to let landlords as they are the greedy bad people who are cashing in on a social woe.  In fact, most people believe the high increases in Shefford’s (and the rest of the UK’s) house prices are the very reason owning a home is outside the grasp of these younger would be property owners.

However, the numbers tell a different story.  Looking at the age of first time buyers since 1990, the statistics could be seen to pour cold water on the idea that younger people are being priced out of the housing market.  In 1990, when data was first published, the average age of a first time buyer was 33, today it’s 31.

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Nevertheless, the average age doesn’t tell the whole story.  In the early 1990’s, 26.7% of first time buyers were under 25, while in the last five years just 14.9% were.  In the early 1990’s, four out of ten first time buyers were 25 to 34 years of age and now its six out of ten first time buyers.

171 - fixed graph Age Distribution of First Time Buyers in UK since 1990

Although, there are also indications of how unaffordable housing is, the house price to earnings ratio has almost doubled for first time buyers in the past 30 years.  In 1983, the average Shefford home cost a first-time buyer (or buyers in the case of joint mortgages), the equivalent of 2.8 times their total annual earnings, whilst today, that has escalated to 5.4 times their income.

Again, those figures don’t tell the whole story.  Back in 1983, the mortgage payments as percentage of take home pay for a Shefford first time buyer was 29.4%.  In 1989, that had risen to a staggering 75.9%.  Today, it’s 33.9%, and no that’s not a typo, 33.9% is the correct figure.

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To answer the gentleman’s questions about the younger generation of Shefford being able to afford to buy and if it was right for landlords to make money on the inability of others to buy property, it isn’t all to do with affordability as the numbers show.

What of the landlords?  Some say the government should sort the housing problem out themselves, but according to my calculations, £18bn a year would need to be spent for the next 20 or so years to meet current demand for households.  That would be the equivalent of raising income tax by 4p in the pound and I don’t think UK tax payers would swallow that.

So, if the Government haven’t got the money, who else will house these people?  Private sector landlords will and thankfully they have taken up the slack over the last 15 years.

Some say there is a tendency to equate property ownership with national prosperity but this isn’t necessarily the case.  The youngsters of Shefford are buying houses, but buying later in life. Also, many Shefford youngsters are actively choosing to rent for the long term, as it gives them flexibility, something our 21st Century society craves more than ever.

 

52.8 miles – The average distance people go to escape living in Shefford

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“How far do Shefford people go to move to a new house?”  This was an intriguing question asked by one of my clients the other week.  Readers of my property blog will know I love a challenge, especially when it comes to talking about the Shefford property market.

 For the majority, the response is not very far.  It is much more common for homeowners and tenants in Great Britain to move across town than to the next town or county.  Until now, it’s been hard to say how many homeowners and tenants moved from and to relatively far away to buy or rent their new home.  However, I carried out some research and requested some statistics from the Royal Mail and what came back was fascinating.

Using statistics for the 12 months up to the middle of Autumn 2016, 204 households moved out of Shefford and the average distance was 52.79 miles, the equivalent of moving from Shefford to Coventry as the crow flies.  The greatest distance travelled was 665 miles, that’s almost 25 marathons, when someone moved to Gorseness in Scotland.

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Considering there were 173 property sales in SG17 in the year and countless tenant moves, the numbers seems consistent.  Once you find a town you like, you tend to want to settle down and if you do move, you might only move to a different neighbourhood, a better transport links or to be closer to the school you want to get your children into.  The likelihood is however is that you won’t travel far.

I then turned my attention to people moving into Shefford.  Using the same statistics for the 12 months up to the middle of Autumn 2016, 247 households moved into Shefford and the average distance was 32.90 miles, the equivalent of moving from Newmarket to Shefford, again as the crow flies.  The greatest distance travelled again was 428 miles, that’s the same as 16 marathons when someone moved from Magheragall in Northern Ireland to Shefford.

I have looked at the data of every person moving into Shefford and these have been plotted on a map of the UK. Looking at the map below, it shows exactly where most people come from, when moving into Shefford.  As you can see, there are a high proportion of people moving from London and from the South West.

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What does all this mean for the landlords and homeowners of Shefford?

When an agent markets a property for rent or let, it is vital to know the tenant or property buyer well, that the properties they are letting / selling fit those tenants / buyers, so they almost sell themselves.  These days that means not only knowing how many bedrooms, reception rooms a property offers but the budget buyers and tenants want to spend on a property in that area as well as where they come from.

The estate and lettings industry loves the mantra “location, location, location”.  I say it might be helpful to factor in where and how far people are moving from, so the property can be sold or let more easily.  Many say knowledge is power and whilst I do enjoy writing my blog on the Shefford property market, I also use the information to help my clients buy, let and sell well.  So for example, the information gained from this article will enable my team and I to be more efficient in where to direct our marketing resources to ensure we maximise our client’s properties sale-ability or rent-ability.

For more information on the Shefford property market, give us a call on 01462 894565 or pop into the office for a cuppa

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

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As more babies are being born to Shefford and Central Bedfordshire mothers, I believe this increase will continue to add pressure to the over stretched Shefford 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 Shefford housing shortage, meaning demand for housing, be it to buy or rent, has remained high.  The high birth rate has meant Shefford rents and Shefford 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.

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The number of births from Shefford 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 Shefford 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 Shefford.

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 Shefford 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 Shefford 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 Cotswolds, 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 aren’t hundreds of acres of brownfield sites in Shefford, and what brownfield sites there are, building on them can only work with complementary public investment.  Many such sites are contaminated and aren’t 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!

 

Thinking of investing in Shefford….?

This riverside two bedroom apartment in The Wharf is on the market with Wilson Peacock in Biggleswade for £200,000.  With a potential yield of around 5% this is really worth considering!

Have a look at the Rightmove advert and call Wilson Peacock ASAP to view it before it goes!

Looking to invest in Shefford?

This three bedroom house is on the market through Purple Bricks with an asking price of £250,000. An ideal purchase for an investor with a potential yield of 4.8%. View ASAP before it goes.  Take a look at the video above and click here for the rightmove advert

Pop into our office for a cup of tea and a chat about the Shefford property market and lettings or call us on 01462 894565.

What will the General Election do to 3,364 Shefford Homeowners?

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In Shefford, of the 4,816 households, 1,495 homes are owned without a mortgage and 1,869 homes are owned with a mortgage. Many homeowners have made contact me with asking what the General Election will do the Shefford 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:

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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):

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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 Shefford?  As I have discussed in previous articles (and just as relevant for homeowners as well) property value growth in Shefford 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 Shefford, making it imperative that Shefford 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 Shefford property market please feel free to pop into the office, call us on 01462 894565 or e-mail us at: lettings@satchells.co.uk.

 

Flipping’ heck! Shefford property values rise by £50.15 a day

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Investing in Shefford buy to let property is different from investing in the stock market or depositing your hard-earned cash in the Building Society. When you invest your money in the Building Society, this is considered by many as the safe option but the returns you can achieve are awfully low (the best 2-year bond rate from Nationwide is a whopping 0.75% a year!). Another investment is the Stock Market, which can give good returns, but unless you are on the phone every day to your Stockbroker, most people invest in stock market funds, making the investment quite hands off and one always has the feeling of not being in control.

However, with buy to let, things can be more hands on. One of the things many landlords like is the tactile nature of property , the fact that you can touch the bricks and mortar. It is this factor that attracts many of Shefford’s landlords, they are making their own decisions rather than entrusting them to city whizz kids in Canary Wharf playing roulette with their savings.

I always say investing in property is a long-term game. When you invest in the property market, you can earn from your investment in two ways. When a property increases in value over time, it is known as ‘capital growth’.

Capital growth, also known as capital appreciation, has been strong in recent times in Shefford, but the value of property does go up as well as down just like shares do but the initial purchase price rarely decreases.

Rental income is what the tenant pays you and   hopefully this will also grow over time. If you divide the annual rent into the value (or purchase price) of the property, this is your yield, or annual return. So, over the last 5 years, an average Shefford property has risen by £91,526 (equivalent to £50.15 a day), taking it to a current average value of £356,900.

Yields range from 5% a year and can reach double digits’ percentages (although to achieve those sorts of returns, the risks are higher).

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However, something I have not   spoken of before is the more specialist area of flipping property to make money.   Flipping – buying a property, carrying out some minor cosmetics and re selling it quickly.

I have seen several investors recently who have made decent returns from this strategy. For example …..

One Shefford buyer paid £345,000 for a four  bedroom house  in Hoo Road, Meppershall  in April  2016.

Some shots of the property before the work was completed:

Some shots of the property after the work was completed:

Some cosmetic work was done to the property and it has recently been resold  for £390,000 – 13.04% return before costs .

As my article mentioned a few weeks ago, more and more Shefford people maybe giving  up on owning their own home and instead accepting long term renting whilst buy to let lending continues to grow from strength to strength. If you want to know what (and what would not) make a decent buy to let property in Shefford, then please continue to visit our blog and contact us for any further advice.

How the rented sector has transformed the property market in Shefford

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The Shefford 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 Shefford tenants and Shefford 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 Shefford population.

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

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Currently, the private rented (B-T-L) sector accounts for 9.64% 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 home ownership, a different story is told.

64.03% Shefford people owned their own home in 1981

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

9.44% Shefford people rented from a private landlord  in 1981   

 

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 Shefford 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 Shefford 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 Shefford and Central Bedfordshire, be it B-T-L or B-T-R, has the prospective to play a very positive role.

Modern apartment in Shefford – great rental potential!

This property has gone onto the market with Country Properties in Shefford.  Priced sensibly at £191,000, making it an ideal purchase for an investor with a potential yield pushing 5.3%.  View ASAP before it goes.  Take a look at their advert here and give them a call quick!

Shefford First Time Buyers borrow £3.2m in the last 12 months

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Starting with the bigger picture, over the last 12 months in the UK, 1,061,557 properties were sold with a total value of £223.74 bn. To give that some context, ten years ago 1,581,727 properties sold with a total value of £405.56bn, so it can be seen the number of people moving house has dropped by over a third over the last decade.

Whether you are a landlord, homeowner or tenant, it’s always important to keep an eye on the Shefford property market, not just from your point of view, but also from every player’s point of view. Over the last 12 months, 235 properties have sold (and completed) in Shefford, worth £75.5m. Interestingly the number of properties changing hands in Shefford has also dropped when compared to a decade ago.

It might surprise you that first time buyers in 2017 will benefit from a slight decline in Shefford buy-to-let investors.

Those looking to buy a home in the spring and summer of 2017 will face a far less competitive Shefford property market than the same time of year in 2016, when the urgency to beat the buy-to-let stamp duty hike was in full swing.

Many landlords brought forward their purchases to beat the tax, and since then, the number of buy-to-let purchases has dropped slightly. First time buyers have taken advantage of that and have increased their buying. In fact, looking at the Bank of England figures, this is what UK lenders have lent on buy-to-let properties versus first time buyers over the last 12 months  …

Q4 2015 – £1bn buy-to-let mortgages vs £1.31bn for first time buyers

Q1 2016 – £1.35bn buy-to-let mortgages vs £1.08bn for first time buyers

Q2 2016 – £760m buy-to-let mortgages vs £1.28bn for first time buyers

Q3 2016 – £827m buy-to-let mortgages vs £1.42bn for first time buyers

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When looking at the figures for Shefford itself, first time buyers have borrowed more than £3.2m in the last 12 months to buy their first home. This is a ringing endorsement of their confidence in their jobs and the local Shefford economy. Those 20 and 30 something’s who are considering being first time buyers in 2017 will find that the number of properties on the market has never been as good as it has for quite a while, meaning you have more choice of properties and less competition from so many buy-to-let landlords than a year ago.

Rightmove announced nationally that new seller enquiries are 26% up on the same time last year giving the stoutest indication that we may see a slight ease in the lack of properties on the market. When I look at Shefford, at this moment in time there are 47 properties for sale, compared to 35 properties a year ago. All this will be welcome news amongst Shefford first-time buyers with a combination of a proportional reduction in new investors and landlords.

2017 will be an interesting year for all homeowners, be they buy-to-let landlords, existing homeowners or future homeowners.