Monday, 16 October 2017

What is happening in the Aylesbury rental market?

Probably the question you are most often asked if you are a lettings agent! Right now, it is not an easy question to give a sensible response to.

We have seen significant price growth over this year and most landlords have been very happy that their property has been let swiftly. So it has been a good year to date.

However, things are changing. Properties are not letting as swiftly and the prices are not as strong. We are seeing some property dropping in price before being able to let (that is not counting the ones that went to market at an inflated price!).

The strong supply available means tenants are being much more picky and not willing to commit as fast.

If you are trying to let your property you need to have your price and presentation right. It goes without saying that you need a proactive agent on side giving you the right advice. If you stumble in to a void period things get expensive pretty quickly. Don’t forget that as we move in to the festive end of the year the number of tenants seeking to move will reduce further. Much better to let now at a price you don’t like than to wait and let at a price you like even less in November…or not at all.

If it is not at all then those weeks without a rental income become expensive real quick and it won’t be a very merry Christmas.

If you were to look at Rightmove today the figures are quite telling. In the last 7 days 30 properties have come on to the market, 13 properties have been reduced in price and ONLY ONE property of those has been let.

I have looked at the level of applicants we have registered in the third quarter of the year for the last three years and this year is 10% down on last year and 18% down on 2015

If I was a landlord trying to let at the moment I would be taking action immediately to secure a tenant.

One more thing to think about…The sales market locally like much of the South East is slowing down (950 properties available on Rightmove today for ‘Aylesbury’)…as it does so this represents both a threat and an opportunity.

The threat is from those sellers that won’t or can’t reduce in price to sell in this climate but still need to move. They will become your competitors as they turn to the lettings market to allow them to move.

The opportunity comes from those that need to sell because they need to move. These vendors are more likely to reduce or take a lower offer to get moved…they could make a great addition to your portfolio. Look out for properties that have just come back on the market…there may be a developer at the top of the chain who will throw money at the bottom of the chain to see a swift exchange. The same applies to Part Exchange properties…you can often identify these as they likely come on to the market the same day but with 2 or more agents.


If you are trying to let without success or want to sanity check your investment plans just drop in, call or email declen@mortimersaylesbury.co.uk 01296 398555 5Temple Street Aylesbury HP20 2RN

Monday, 9 October 2017

Moving from a 2 bed Aylesbury Property to a 4 bed will cost you £971 pm

Moving to a bigger home is something Aylesbury people with growing young families aspire to. Many people in two bedroom homes move to a three-bedroom home and some even make the jump to a four-bed home. Bigger homes, especially three bed Aylesbury homes are much in demand and it can be a costly move.

If you live in Aylesbury in a two-bedroom property and wish to move to a four-bedroom house in Aylesbury, you would need to spend an additional £3245,942 (or £971.47 pm in mortgage payments (based on the UK Bank average standard variable rate)). However, going straight to a four bed from a two-bed home is quite rare as most people jump from a two to three-bedroom home, then later in life, from a three to four-bedroom home.

So, after being asked my thoughts on moving home in Aylesbury by a friend recently, please find my analysis of the local property market and then some thoughts. To start with, let us see what the average property price is for an Aylesbury property by the number of bedrooms it has.

Average Property Price in Aylesbury by Bedroom
1 bed
2 bed
3 bed
4 bed
5 bed
£178,588
£238,485
£315,745
£484,426
£555,416


I then decided to calculate what it would cost to make the jump upmarket from one bedroom to two bedrooms, two to three bedrooms etc, etc, both in actual money and in mortgage payments (using the current standard variable rate of UK Banks of 4.74% - so the mortgage cost could be higher or lower depending on the mortgage taken).

Aylesbury
Price Difference to make the move
Cost per month to move up market (Mortgage)
1 bed to 2 bed
£59,896
 £236.59
2 bed to 3 bed
£77,260
 £305.18
2 bed to 4 bed
£245,942
 £971.47
3 bed to 4 bed
£168,681
 £666.29
4 bed to 5 bed
£70,990
 £280.41

There are some interesting jumps in costs when moving upmarket as an Aylesbury buyer. The cost of moving from one to two beds, and two to three beds is relatively reasonable, whilst the jump from three to four beds in Aylesbury is quite high (and hence why some four bed properties are taking slightly longer to sell nowadays). On an aside, a lesson here for all my landlord property blog readers, you can quite clearly see why the larger 4 and 5 bed properties don’t offer the best returns for buy to let because the monthly finance costs and rents achieved don’t match up so well (i.e. A mortgage for a 4 bed home in Aylesbury would cost you 53.42% compared to a 3 bed mortgage, but the jump in rent would be a lot less than that - although depending on your circumstances, 4 bed homes can offer other advantages to buy to let – pick up the phone if you want to know what they are in more detail).

So, coming back and looking at the stock of properties in Aylesbury, this also makes interesting reading …

Housing Stock in Aylesbury by Bedrooms
1 bed
2 bed
3 bed
4 bed
5 bed
11.54%
32.05%
39.28%
16.67%
0.47%



The most active purchasers are 20 something and 30 something home-owning parents with growing families. Many look to more modern developments for the perfect balance of access to decent primary schools, commutability and lifestyle. For landlords looking to buy within Aylesbury, they face stiff competition from these 20/30 something families, making the three bedroom Aylesbury home massively in demand, often attracting spirited offers and selling within weeks of listing. This mix of homebuyers and landlords is a pressure point in the Aylesbury property market.  Again, if you are a landlord, call me and I will show you areas with decent returns where you aren’t in so much competition with young Aylesbury family homebuyers.

Yet, the cost of an additional bedroom can be too much for some Aylesbury buyers. It is quite challenging moving home the first time, but to then find you are priced out on the next move up the ladder can be quite disconcerting, with families often having to move to a different part of town to get the bigger home they need.

Nevertheless, that’s the place many homeowners find themselves in with the cost of the additional bedroom being too much to bear. To those buying their home for the first time, all I suggest is they not only consider the mortgage payments and other costs of their first home, but also do their homework into their next rung up the Aylesbury property ladder. Thinking about it now will keep you ahead of the game in the future; as your number of bedrooms, family property needs and lifestyle wants change.

..and Aylesbury landlords – well these changes in the way people live also mean there are opportunities to be had in the Aylesbury rental market. Many Aylesbury landlords are starting to pick my brain on this.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Aylesbury Buy-to-Let Return / Yields – 1.9% to 6.6% a year

The mind-set and tactics you employ to buy your first Aylesbury buy to let property needs to be different to the tactics and methodology of buying a home for yourself to live in. The main difference is when purchasing your own property, you may well pay a little more to get the home you (and your family) want, and are less likely to compromise. When buying for your own use, it is only human nature you will want the best, so that quite often it is at the top end of your budget (because as my parents always used to tell me – you get what you pay for in this world!).

Yet with a buy to let property, if your goal is a higher rental return – a higher price doesn’t always equate to higher monthly returns – in fact quite the opposite. Inexpensive Aylesbury properties can bring in bigger monthly returns. Most landlords use the phrase ‘yield’ instead of monthly return. To calculate the yield on a buy to let property one basically takes the monthly rent, multiplies it by 12 to get the annual rent and then divides it by the value of the property.

This means, if one increases the value of the property using this calculation, the subsequent yield drops. Or to put it another way, if a Aylesbury buy to let landlord has the decision of two properties that create the same amount of monthly rent, the landlord can increase their rental yield by selecting the lower priced property.


To give you an idea of the sort of returns in Aylesbury...









Now of course these are averages and there will always be properties outside the lower and upper ranges in yields: they are a fair representation of the gross yields you can expect in the Aylesbury area.

As we move forward, with the total amount of buy to let mortgages amounting to £199,310,614,000 in the country, landlords need to be aware of the investment performance of their property, especially in the era of tax increases and tax relief reductions. Landlords are looking to maximise their yield - and are doing so by buying cheaper properties.

However, before everyone in Aylesbury starts selling their upmarket properties and buying cheap ones, yield isn’t the only factor when deciding on what Aylesbury buy to let property to buy.  Void periods (i.e. the time when there isn’t a tenant in the property between tenancies) are an important factor and those properties at the cheaper end of the rental spectrum can suffer higher void periods too. Apartments can also have service charges and ground rents that aren’t accounted for in these gross yields. Landlords can also make money if the value of the property goes up and for those Aylesbury landlords who are looking for capital growth, an altered investment strategy may be required.

In Aylesbury, for example, over the last 20 years, this is how the average price paid for the four different types of Aylesbury property have changed…

·         Aylesbury Detached Properties have increased in value by 236.7% 
·         Aylesbury Semi-Detached Properties have increased in value by 291.6%
·         Aylesbury Terraced Properties have increased in value by 295.7%
·         Aylesbury Apartments have increased in value by 288.9%

It is very much a balancing act of yield, capital growth and void periods when buying in Aylesbury. Every landlord’s investment strategy is unique to them. If you would like a fresh pair of eyes to look at your portfolio, be you a private landlord that doesn’t use a letting agent or a landlord that uses one of my competitors – then feel free to drop in and let’s have a chat.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Decreasing Numbers of Younger Homeowners in Aylesbury

James Taylor, 34-year-old father of two from Aylesbury, was out house hunting. It was a pleasant August Saturday afternoon, and our man cycles along on his bike. He cycles up a street, where he spots a few retired mature neighbours, chatting to each other over the garden fence. He leans his bicycle against a lamppost and launches softly into his property search.

Anyone on the road contemplating moving?” James asks, “I am not a landlord or developer, I’m just an Aylesbury bloke trying to get out of renting, buy a house, do it up and live in it with my wife and two children

The only way I will leave here is in a box”, answers an 80-something lady, wearing her fading Paisley patterned housecoat from the 1970’s.

I‘ve lived here since before you were born, its lovely up here .. we aren’t moving, are we Doris?” (as her neighbour sagely shook his head at his wife).

James, like many Aylesbury people born in the late 1970’s to the early 1990’s, is keen to get a slice of prime Aylesbury real estate. Yet people like James in Generation Y (or the Millennials as some people call them i.e. born between 1977 and 1994 and needing family housing now) are discovering, as each year passes by, they are becoming more neglected and ignored when it comes to moving up the property ladder.

Looking at the graph for the UK as whole …




Over 75 percent of Brits aged 65 and above (the baby boomers) are owner-occupiers, the biggest share since records began and a proportional rise of over 48.3% since the early 1980’s. Looking at those Baby Boomers (the current 65+year olds)  .. and roll the clock back 36 years (to when they were in their 30’s and 40’s and two thirds (65.6%) of them owned their own home.
Whilst today, just under a half of 25 to 49 year olds (47.3%) own their own home.


However, the biggest drop has been in the 18 to 24-year old’s, where homeownership has dropped from a third (32%) in the 1980’s to less than one in ten (8.9%) today. Looking at the Aylesbury statistics, the numbers make even more interesting reading.



Government policy contributes to the generational stalemate. Stamp Duty rules prevent older Brits from moving as the price of land and planning rules make it harder to build affordable bungalows that are attractive to members of the older generation who want to move.

The average value of an acre of prime building land in the UK is between £750,000 and £800,000 per acre. Bungalows are the favoured option for the older generation, but the problem is bungalows take up too much land to make them profitable for new homes builders. The housing market is gridlocked with youngsters wanting to get on (then move up) the property ladder whilst the older generation, who want to move from their larger houses to smaller, more modern bungalows, can’t. The problem is – there simply aren’t enough bungalows being built and the high price of land, means they are prohibitive to build.

So, what is my point? Well, all I would say to the homeowners of Aylesbury is that one solution could be to start to talk to your local councillors, so they can mould the planners’ thoughts and the local authority thinking in setting land aside for bungalows instead of two up two down starter homes? That would free the impasse at the top of the property ladder (i.e. mature people living in big houses but unable to move anywhere), releasing the middle aged gridlocked people in the ladder to move up, thus releasing more existing starter homes for the younger generation.   

… and to you James … the wandering new home searcher – if things are going to change, it will be years before they do .. so keep going out and spreading the word of your search for a new home for your family.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

14.2% Drop in Aylesbury People Moving Home in the Last 10 Years

I find the most interesting bits in newspapers are their commentaries on the British Housing Market. Some talk about property prices, whilst others discuss the younger generation grappling to get a foot-hold on the property ladder with difficulties of saving up for the deposit.  Others feature articles about the severe lack of new homes being built (which is especially true in Aylesbury!).  A group of people that don’t often get any column inches however are those existing homeowners who can’t move! 

Back in the early 2000’s, between 1m and 1.3m people moved each year in England and Wales, peaking at 1,349,306 home-moves (i.e. house sales) in 2002.  However, the ‘credit crunch’ hit in 2008 and the number of house sales fell to 624,994 in 2009.  Since then this has steadily recovered, albeit to a more ‘respectable’ 899,708 properties by 2016.  This means there are around 450,000 fewer house sales (house-moves) each year compared to the noughties.  The question is ... why are there fewer house sales?

To answer that, we need to go back 50 years.  Inflation was high in the late 1960’s, 70’s and early 80’s.  To combat this, the Government raised interest rates to a high level in a bid to lower inflation.  Higher interest rates meant the householders monthly mortgage payments were higher, meaning mortgages took a large proportion of the homeowner’s household budget. However, this wasn’t all bad news since inflation tends to erode mortgage debt in ‘real spending power terms’.  Consequently, as wages grew (to keep up with inflation), this allowed home owners to get even bigger mortgages.  At the same time their mortgage debt was decreasing, therefore allowing them to move up the property ladder quicker. 

Roll the clock on to the late 1990’s and the early Noughties, and things had changed.  UK interest rates tumbled as UK inflation dropped.  Lower interest rates and low inflation, especially in the five years 2000 to 2005, meant we saw double digit growth in the value of UK property.  This inevitably meant all the home owner’s equity grew significantly, meaning people could continue to move up the property ladder (even without the effects of inflation).

This snowball effect of significant numbers moving house continued into the mid noughties (2004 to 2007), as Banks and Building Society’s slackened their lending criteria.  [You will probably remember the 125% loan to value Northern Rock Mortgages that could be obtained with just a note from your Mum!!].  This  meant home movers could borrow even more to move up the property ladder.



So, now it’s 2017 and things have changed yet again!

You would think that with ultra-low interest rates at 0.25% (a 320-year low) the number of people moving would be booming – wouldn’t you?  However, this has not been the case.  Less people are moving because:

(1) low wage growth of 1.1% per annum 
(2) the tougher mortgage rules since 2014 
(3) sporadic property price growth in the last few years
(4) high property values comparative to salaries (I talked about this a couple of months ago)

What does this translate to in pure numbers locally? 

In 2007, 4,453 properties sold in the Aylesbury Vale District Council area and last year, in 2016 only 3,819 properties sold – a drop of 14.24%.

Therefore, we have just over 630 less households moving in the Aylesbury and surrounding Council area each year.  Now of that number, it is recognised throughout the property industry around fourth fifths of them are homeowners with a mortgage. That means there are around 520 mortgaged households a year (fourth fifths of the figure of 630) in the Aylesbury and surrounding council area that would have moved 10 years ago, but won’t this year. 

The reason they can’t/won’t move can be split down into different categories, explained in a recent report by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). So, of those estimated 520 annual Aylesbury (and surrounding area) non-movers, based on that CML report -

1. There are around 187 households a year that aren’t moving due to a fall in the number of mortgaged owner occupiers (i.e. demographics).

2. I then estimate another 73 households a year are of the older generation mortgaged owner occupiers. As they are increasingly getting older, older people don’t tend to move, regardless of what is happening to the property market (i.e. lifestyle).

3. Then, I estimate 31 households of our Aylesbury (and surrounding area) annual non-movers will mirror the rising number of high equity owner occupiers, who previously would have moved with a mortgage but now move as cash buyers (i.e. high house price growth).

4. I believe there are 229 Aylesbury (and surrounding area) mortgaged homeowners that are unable to move because of the financing of the new mortgage or keeping within the new rules of mortgage affordability that came into play in 2014 (i.e. mortgage).

The first three above are beyond the Government or Bank of England control.  However could there be some influence exerted to help the non-movers because of financing the new mortgage and keeping within the new rules of mortgage affordability? If Aylesbury property values were lower, this would decrease the size of each step up the property ladder.  This would mean the opportunity cost of increasing their mortgage would reduce (i.e. opportunity cost = the step up in their mortgage payments between their existing and future new mortgage) and they would be able to move to more upmarket properties.

Then there is the mortgage rules, but before we all start demanding a relaxation in lending criteria for the banks, do we want to return to free and easy mortgages 125% Northern Rock footloose and fancy-free mortgage lending that seemed to be available in the mid 2000’s ... available at a drop of hat and three tokens from a cereal packet?

We all know what happened with Northern Rock …. Your thoughts would be welcome on this topic.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Aylesbury’s 3 Speed Property Market

“What’s happening to the Aylesbury Property Market” is a question I am asked repeatedly.  Well, would it be a surprise to hear that my own research suggests that there isn’t just one big Aylesbury property market – but many small micro-property markets?

According to recent data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), I have discovered that at least three of these micro-property markets have emerged over the last 20+ years in the town.

For ease, I have named them the …

1.      lower’ Aylesbury Property Market.
2.      lower to middle’ Aylesbury Property Market.
3.      ‘middle’ Aylesbury Property Market.

The ‘lower’ and ‘lower to middle’ sectors of the Aylesbury property market have been fuelled over the last few years by two sets of buyers. The first set, making up the clear majority of those buyers, are cash rich landlord investors who are throwing themselves into the Aylesbury property market to take advantage of alluringly low prices and even lower interest rates. The other set of buyers in the ‘lower’ and ‘lower to middle’ Aylesbury property market are the first-time buyers (FTB), although the FTB market is in a state of unparalleled deadlock as it’s been trampled into near-immobility and incapacity by the new 2014 stricter mortgage affordability regulations and also fewer mortgages with low deposits. 

Some of you may be interested to know how I have classified the three sectors ..

1.      lower’ Aylesbury housing market – the bottom 10% (in terms of value) of properties sold
2.      lower to middle’ Aylesbury housing market – lower Quartile (or lowest 25% in terms of value) of properties sold
3.      middle’ Aylesbury housing market - which is the median in terms of value

…. and if one looks at the figures for Aylesbury Vale District Council area you can see the three different sectors (lower, lower/middle and middle) have performed quite differently.

Aylesbury Vale District Council Property Market  – Sold Prices
Price Paid in 1995
Price Paid in 2017
Percentage Uplift
1995 - 2017
Lower (Bottom 10%)
£40,000
£176,500
341.25%
Lower to Middle (Lower Quartile)
£50,000
£230,000
360.00%
Middle (The Median)
£81,448
£343,829
322.14%

You can quite clearly see that it is the ‘lower to middle’ market that has performed the best.

You might ask, what do all these different figures mean to homeowners and landlords alike?  Quite a lot – so let me explain. The worst performing sector (with the lowest Percentage uplift) was the ‘middle’ housing market. Therefore, interestingly, if we applied the best percentage uplift figure (i.e. from the ‘lower to middle’ market percentage uplift), to the ‘middle’ 1995 housing market figure, the 2017 figure of £343,829, would have been £374,661 instead – quite a difference you must agree?



Now, I have specifically not mentioned the upper reaches of the Aylesbury housing market for several reasons.  Firstly, the lower or middle market is where most of the buy to let investment landlords buy their property and where the majority of property transactions take place. Secondly, due to the unique and distinctive nature of Aylesbury’s up-market property scene (because every property is different and they don’t tend to sell as often as the lower to middle market), it is much more difficult to calculate what changes have occurred to property prices in that part of the Aylesbury property market - looking at the stats for the up-market Aylesbury property market from Land Registry, only 46 properties in Aylesbury (and a 1 mile radius around it) have sold for £1,000,000 or more since 1997.


So, what should every homeowner and buy to let landlord take from the information that there are many micro-property markets? Well, when you realise there isn’t just one Aylesbury Property Market, but many Aylesbury “micro-property markets”, you can spot trends and bag yourself some potential bargains. 

As always I look forward to hearing your thoughts, be that by email, or by popping into our temple street office for a chat.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Slowing Aylesbury Property Market? Yes and No!

The tightrope of being a Aylesbury buy-to-let landlord is a balancing act many do well at. Talking to several Aylesbury landlords, they are very conscious of their tenants’ capacity and ability to pay the rent and their own need to raise rents on their rental properties (as Government figure shows ‘real pay’ has dropped 1% in the last six months). Evidence does however suggest many landlords feel more assured than they were in the spring about pursuing higher rents on their Aylesbury buy-to-let properties.

During the summer months, historic evidence suggests that the rents new tenants have had to pay on move in have increased. June/July/August is a time when renters like to move, demand surges and the normal supply and demand seesaw mean tenants are normally prepared to pay more to secure the property they want to live in, in the place they want to be. This is particularly good news for Aylesbury landlords as average Aylesbury rents have been on a downward trend recently. So look at the figures here...

Rents in Aylesbury on average for new tenants moving in have risen 0.9% for the month, making overall annual Aylesbury rents 0.9% lower for the year

However, several Aylesbury landlords have expressed their apprehensions about a slowing of the housing market in Aylesbury and I believe, based on this new evidence, they may be exaggerated.

Before we get the Champagne out, the other side of the coin to property investing is capital values (which will also be of interest to all the homeowners in Aylesbury as well as the Aylesbury buy-to-let landlords).  I believe the Aylesbury property market has been trying to find some form of balance (one might even say equilibrium) since the New Year.  According to the Land Registry…

Property Values in Aylesbury are 7.13% higher than they were 12 months ago, rising by 1.46% last month alone!


Yet, I would take those figures with a pinch of salt as they reflect the sales of Aylesbury properties that took place in early Spring 2017 and now are only exchanging and completing during the summer months.

The reality is the number of properties that are on the market in Aylesbury today has risen by 48.6% since the New Year and that will have a dampening effect on property value increases. As tenants have had less choice, buyers now have more choice ... and that will temper Aylesbury property prices as we head towards 2018.

Be you a homeowner or landlord, if you are thinking of selling your Aylesbury property in the short term, it’s important, especially with the rise in the number of properties on the market, that you realistically price your property when you bring it to the market.  It is so crucial as the short-term balance of the local property market see-saw slips more towards the buyer with the increase in the number of properties for sale. Everyone has access to every property on the market now through the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla and they will compare your home with other property like yours.

However, even with this uplift in the number of properties for sale in Aylesbury, property prices will remain stable and strong in the medium to long term. This is because the number of properties on the market today is still way below the peak of summer of 2008, when there were 1,305 properties for sale compared to the current level of 602 (if you recall, prices dropped by nearly 20% in Credit Crunch years of ‘08 and ‘09).

Compared to 2008, today’s lower supply of Aylesbury properties for sale will keep prices relatively high...and they will continue to stay at these levels for the medium to long term.

Less people are moving than a few years ago, meaning less property is for sale. Fewer properties for sale mean property prices remain relatively high and this is because of a number of underlying reasons. Firstly, buy-to-let landlords tend not sell their properties as often as owner-occupiers, consequently removing the property out of the housing market selling cycle. Secondly, Stamp Duty is much higher compared to 10 years ago (meaning it costs more to move). Next, there is a dearth of local authority rental housing so demand for private rented housing will remain high. Then we have the UK’s maturing owner occupier population, meaning these older people are less likely to move (compared to when they were younger). Another reason is the lack of new homes being built in the country (we need 240k houses a year to be built in the UK and we are currently only building 145k a year!) and finally, the mortgage rules introduced in 2014 about how much a person can borrow on a mortgage has curtailed demand.


Some final thought’s before I go – to all the Aylesbury homeowners that aren’t planning to sell – this talk of price changes is only on paper profit or loss. To those that are moving ... most people that sell, are buyers as well, so as you might not get as much for yours, the one you will want to buy won’t be as much.

Whatever your plans, if you want some impartial guidance or have another topic you would like to discuss, please do contact me at declen@mortimersaylesbury.co.uk or pop in to our Temple Street office.