There has probably been a few less properties reach the market in the last few days for obvious reasons but here’s one I’ve just had a look at…….
Check out the full details here: http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-53233620.html
I forget to mention these flats can have condensation issues but it looks like the clever owner has put a posimaster in which bring condensation issues almost down to zero! Great plus for a rental property.
How’s the Market? (in Watford)
Here’s a questions that I get asked more often than anything else. As I spend most of my time talking to landlords and investors I’ll consider my answer from their point if view which is more likely to as a buyer rather than as a vendor.
If you look at the Watford property market over last 12 months the figures from land registry show that the average house price in Watford was £359,642 in November ’16 and as of November 17 -it was £356,538. No big changes there about 0.9% less.
If you look month by month there was fluctuation with some months showing up to +1.4% increase and others showing up to -1.2% decrease. So no big monthly changes there.
From the investors point of view, your assets may not have increase in price dramatically so not the best year in the last few. However if you are looking to acquire more properties then this could be good news as prices have dipped a little and the market is not a buoyant which means there is potentially to add to your portfolio with a better deal and lower offers being considered which was definitely not the case 12 months ago pre stamp duty increase.
You only have to check your updates on rightmove to see how many price reductions there are on a daily basis and there are more than meets the eye as some local agents have turned off their ‘Reduced Price’ tag so you may not even know it’s been reduced.
So is this a good time to hold property? In the short term perhaps not but most investors tend to take a longer term view on things unless they are developing/flipping for profit. Is this a good time to buy property? My view is when isn’t a good time to buy property!
If you’re considering an investment this year but are unsure about the market and would like an impartial second opinion on your choice of property then I’d be happy to have a chat with you. You can reach me (James) on 01923 375 300.
Great opportunity for Buy To Let investors being advertised by the lovely people at Trend and Thomas. For full details jump onto rightmove – http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-52562241.html
It was late May 2016, The Right Hon. Member for Tatton, Mr George Osborne, published an official HM Treasury analysis stating UK house prices would be lower by at least 10% (and up to 18%) by the middle of 2018 compared with what is expected if the UK remained in the European Union. So, eight months on from the Referendum, are we beginning to show signs of that prophecy? The simple answer is yes and no.
Looking at the most recent set of data from the Land Registry, property values in Watford are 1.97% down month on month (and the month before that, they had barely grown with an increase of only 0.65%) – so is this the time to panic and run for the hills?
Doom and Gloom then? Well, let me consider the other side of the coin.
Well, as I have spoken about many times in my blog, it is dangerous to look at short term. I have mentioned in several recent articles, the heady days of the Watford property prices rising quicker than a thermometer in the desert sun between the years 2011 and late 2016 are long gone – and good riddance. Yet it might surprise you during those impressive years of house price growth, the growth wasn’t smooth and all upward. Watford property values dropped by an eye watering 2.01% in July 2012 and 0.81% in November 2014 – and no one batted an eyelid then.
You see, property values in Watford are still 13.81% higher than a year ago, meaning the average value of a Watford property today is £438,400. The Office for Budget Responsibility, the Government Spending Watchdog, recently revised down its forecast for house-price growth in the coming years – but only slightly.
The Watford housing market has been steadfast partly because, so far at least, the wider economy has performed better than expected since Brexit. There is a robust link between the unemployment rate and property prices, and a flimsier one with wage growth. Unemployment in the Watford Borough Council area stands at 2,300 people (4.2%), which is considerably better than a few years ago in 2014 when there were 3,000 people unemployed (5.6%) in the same council area.
However, inflation is the only thing that does worry me. Looking at all the pundits, it will get to at least 3% (if not more) in the latter part of 2017 as the drop in Sterling in late 2016 renders our imports with higher prices. If that transpires then the Bank of England, whose target for inflation is 2%, may raise interest rates from 0.25% to 2%+. However, that won’t be so much of an issue as 81.6% of new mortgages in the UK in the last two years have been fixed-rate and who amongst us can remember 1992 with Interest rates of 15%!
Forget Brexit and yes inflation will be a thorn in the side – but the greatest risk to the Watford (and British) property market is that there are simply not enough properties being built thus keeping house prices artificially high. Good news for those on the property ladder, but not for those first-time buyers that aren’t!
“How much would it cost to buy all the properties in Watford?”
This fascinating question was posed by the 11-year-old son of one of my Watford landlords before the Christmas break (doesn’t that seem an age away now!). I thought to myself, that over the Christmas break, I would sit down and calculate what the total value of all the properties in Watford are worth … and just for fun, work out how much they have gone up in value since his son was born back in the autumn of 2005.
In the last 11 years, since the autumn of 2005, the total value of Watford property has increased by 85% or £11.87 billion to a total of £25.83 billion. Interesting, when you consider the FTSE100 has only risen by 30.78% and inflation (i.e. the UK Retail Price Index) rose by 37% during the same 11 years.
When I delved deeper into the numbers, the average price currently being paid by Watford households stands at £486,096.… but you know me, I wasn’t going to stop there, so I split the property market down into individual property types in Watford; the average numbers come out like this ..
… yet it got even more fascinating when I multiplied the total number of each type of property by the average value. Even though detached houses are so expensive, when you compare them with the much cheaper semi-detached houses, you can quite clearly see detached properties are no match in terms of total pound note value of the semi-detached houses.
So, what does this all mean for Watford? Well as we enter the unchartered waters of 2017 and beyond, even though property values are already declining in certain parts of the previously over cooked Central London property market, the outlook in Watford remains relatively good as over the last five years, the local property market was a lot more sensible than central London’s.
Watford house values will remain resilient for several reasons. Firstly, demand for rental property remains strong with continued immigration and population growth. Secondly, with 0.25 per cent interest rates, borrowing has never been so cheap and finally the simple lack of new house building in Watford not keeping up with current demand, let alone eating into years and years of under investment – means only one thing – yes it might be a bumpy ride over the next 12 to 24 months but, in the medium term, property ownership and property investment in Watford has always, and will always, ride out the storm.
In the coming weeks, I will look in greater detail at my thoughts for the 2017 Watford Property Market. As always, all my articles can be found at The Watford Property Blog
An Englishman’s Home is His Castle as Maggie Thatcher lauded – everyone should own their own home. In 1971, around 50% of people owned their own home and, as the baby-boomers got better jobs and pay, that proportion of homeowners rose to 69% by 2001. Homeownership was here to stay as many baby boomers assumed it’s very much a cultural thing here in Britain to own your own home.
But on the back of TV programmes like Homes Under the Hammer, these same baby boomers started to jump on the band wagon of Watford buy to let properties as an investment. Watford first time buyers were in competition with Watford landlords to buy these smaller starter homes … pushing house prices up in the 2000’s (as mentioned in Part One) beyond the reach of first time buyers. Alas, it is not as simple as that. Many factors come into play, such as economics, the banks and government policy. But are Watford landlords fanning the flames of the Watford housing crisis bonfire?
I believe that the landlords of the 8,884 Watford rental properties are not exploitive and are in fact, making many positive contributions to Watford and the people of Watford. Like I have said before, Watford (and the rest of the UK) isn’t building enough properties to keep up the demand; with high birth rate, job mobility, growing population and longer life expectancy.
According to the Barker Review, for the UK to standstill and meet current demand, the country needs to be building 8.7 new households each and every year for every 1,000 households already built. Nationally, we are currently running at 5.07 per thousand and in the early part f this decade were running at 4.1 to 4.3 per thousand.
It desn’t sound a lot of difference, so let us look at what this means for Watford …
For Watford to meet its obligation on the building of new homes, Watford would need to build 467 households each year. Yet, we are missing that figure by around 195 households a year.
For the Government to buy the land and build those additional 195 households, it would need to spend £88,077,323 a year in Watford alone. Add up all the additional households required over the whole of the UK and the Government would need to spend £23.31bn each year … the Country hasn’t got that sort of money!
With these problems, it is the property developers who are buying the old run-down houses and office blocks which are deemed uninhabitable by the local authority, and turning them into new attractive homes to either be rented privately to Watford families or Watford people who need council housing because the local authority hasn’t got enough properties to go around.
The bottom line is that, as the population grows, there aren’t enough properties being built for everyone to have a roof over their head. Rogue landlords need to be put out of business, whilst tenants should expect a more regulated rental market, with greater security for tenants, where they can rely on good landlords providing them high standards from their safe and modernised home. As in Europe, where most people rent rather than buy, it doesn’t matter who owns the house – all people want is a clean, decent roof over their head at a reasonable rent.
So only you, the reader, can decide if buy to let is immoral, but first let me ask this question – if the private buy to let landlords had not taken up the slack and provided a roof over these people’s heads over the last decade .. where would these tenants be living now? ….. because the alternative doesn’t even bear thinking about!
Can we blame the 55 to 70-year-old Watford citizens for the current housing crisis in the town?
Also known as the ‘Baby Boomer Generation’, these Watford people were born after the end of the Second World War as the country saw a massive rise in births as they slowly recovered from the economic hardships experienced during wartime.
Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, they experienced (whilst in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s) an unparalleled level of economic growth and prosperity throughout their working lifetime on the back of improved education, government subsidies, escalating property prices and technological developments, they have emerged as a successful and prosperous generation.
…Yet some have suggested these Watford baby boomers have (and are) making too much money to the detriment of their children, creating a ‘generational economic imbalance’, where mature people benefit from house-price growth while their children are forced either to pay massive rents or pay large mortgages.
Between 2001 and today, average earnings rose by 65%, but average Watford house prices rose by 177.4%
The issue of housing is particularly acute with the generation called the Millennials, who are young people born between the mid 1980’s and the late 1990’s. These 18 to 30 year olds, moulded by the computer and internet revolution, are finding as they enter early adult life, very hard to buy a property, as these ‘greedy’ landlords are buying up all the property to rent out back to them at exorbitant rents … it’s no wonder these Millennials are lashing out at buy to let landlords, as they are seen as the greedy, immoral, wicked people who are cashing in on a social despair.
Like all things in life, we must look to the past, to appreciate where we are now.
The three biggest influencing factors on the Watford (and UK) property market in the later half of the 20th Century were, firstly, the mass building of Council Housing in the 1950’s and 60’s. Secondly, for the Tory’s to sell most of those Council Houses off in the 1980’s and finally 15% interest rates in the early 1990’s which resulted in many houses being repossessed. It was these major factors that underpinned the housing crisis we have today in Watford.
To start with, in 1995 the USA relaxed its lending rules by rewriting the Community Reinvestment Act. This Act saw a relaxation on the Bank’s lending criteria’s as there was pressure on these banks to lend on mortgages in low wage neighbourhoods, as the viewpoint in the USA was that anyone (even someone on the minimum wage) any working class person should be able to buy a home. Unsurprisingly, the UK followed suit in the early 2000’s, as Banks and Building Society’s relaxed their lending criteria and brought to the market 100% mortgages, even Northern Rock started lending every man and his dog 125% mortgages.
So when we roll the clock forward to today, and we can observe those very same footloose banks from the early/mid 2000’s (that lent 125% with a just note from your Mum and a couple of breakfast cereal tokens), ironically reciting the Bank of England backed hymn-sheet of responsible-lending. On every first time buyer mortgage application, they are now looking at every line on the 20-something’s banks statements, asking if they are spending too much on socialising and holidays … no wonder these Millennials are afraid to ask for a mortgage (as more often than not after all that – the answer is negative).
Conversely, you have unregulated Buy To Let mortgages. As long as you have a 25-35% deposit, have a pulse, pass a few very basic yardsticks and have a reasonable job, the banks will literally throw money at you … I mean Virgin Money are offering 2.99% fixed for 3 years – so cheap!
So, in Part Two next week, I will continue this emotive article and show you some very interesting findings on why young people aren’t buying property anymore (and it’s not what you think!).
Watford people aged over 65 currently hold more housing wealth in their homes than the annual GDP of the whole of Luton … and this is a problem for everyone in Watford!
Many retiree’s want to move but cannot, as there is a shortage of such homes for mature people to downsize into. Due to the shortage, bungalows command a 10% to 20% premium per square foot over houses of the same size with stairs. To add to the woes, in 2014, just 1% of new builds in the UK were bungalows, according to the National House Building Council – down from 7% in 1996.
My research has found that there are 11,578 households in Watford owned outright (i.e. no mortgage) by over 65 year olds. Taking into account the average value of a property in Watford, this means £5.23 billion of equity is locked up in these Watford homes, compared to the GDP of the whole of nearby Luton being £4.5 billion of GDP.
A recent survey by YouGov, found that 36% of people aged over 65 in the UK are looking to downsize into a smaller home. However, the Government seems to focus all its attention on first-time buyers with strategies such as Starter Homes to ensure the youngsters of the UK don’t become permanent members of ‘Generation Rent’. Conversely, this overlooks the chronic under-supply of appropriate retirement housing essential to the needs of the Watford’s rapidly ageing population. Regrettably, the Watford’s housing stock is woefully unprepared for this demographic shift to the ‘stretched middle age’, and this has created a new ‘Generation Trapped’ dilemma where older people cannot move.
Some OAP’s who are finding it difficult to live on their own, are unable to leave their bungalow because of a lack of sheltered housing and ‘affordable’ care home places. So, older retirees can’t leave bungalows, younger retirees can’t buy bungalows and younger people can’t buy family houses.
Interestingly, adding insult to injury, the problem will only get worse, as in the 50 year old to 64 year old homeownership age range there are an additional 7,789 Watford households that are mortgage free and a further 8,929 Watford households who will be completing their mortgage responsibility. With Government projections showing the proportion of over 65’s will rise by over a third from the current 17.7% to 24.3% of the population in the next 20 years … this can only add greater pressure to the Watford Property market.
House prices have rocketed over the last 40 years because the supply of property has not kept up with demand. With migration, people living longer and high divorce rates (meaning one family becomes two) we need, as a Country, 240,000 properties to be built a year to just stand still. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the Country was building on average 180,000 to 190,000 households a year, but since the Credit Crunch (2009), that has only been between 130,000 and 145,000 households a year.
The solution …. release more land for starter homes, bungalows and sheltered accommodation because land prices are killing the housing market as the large firms dominating the construction industry are more likely to focus on traditional houses and apartments. My opinion – until the Government change the planning rules and allow more land to be built on – Bungalows could be a decent bet for future investment as they continue to attract ever growing premiums?