Hard Brexit could cause 1,800 properties to be dumped onto the Guildford Property market

So all cards up in the air! A general election will be on the books, but one thing is for sure … whoever gets the job to deal with Brexit has a hard job on their hands (I’m just glad its not me!) As it currently stands, by not assuring the rights of EU citizens in the UK, Theresa May has squandered an opportunity to give peace of mind to our EU co-workers working and living in Guildford (and the rest of the UK). No.10 Downing Street’s point of view is that in promising the rights of EU citizens in the UK, it will postpone the same guarantee to the 1.5 million UK citizens living in the other nations of the EU.

Putting aside the politics for one second, the simple fact is now Article 50 has been triggered, we have two years to make a deal with the EU; otherwise it will be a ‘hard Brexit’. Now you might not think a hard Brexit will affect you in your home in Guildford … but nothing could be further from the truth.

Of the 130,920 people who are resident in the Guildford Borough Council area, 112,267 were born in the UK, 4,363 were born in EU countries from West Europe and 1,727 were born in EU countries from the former Soviet States in East Europe (the rest coming from other countries around the world).

The rights of these EU citizens living in the Guildford area are not guaranteed and will now be part of the negotiation with Europe. It is true a lot of our EU next door neighbours in Guildford will have acquired rights relating to the right to live, to work, to own a business, to possess a property, the right to access health and education services and the right to remain in a UK after retirement… yet those acquired rights are up for negotiation in the next two years.

So, what would a hard Brexit do to the Guildford property market?

Well a hard Brexit could mean the nuclear option when it came to the Guildford housing market. It could mean that every EU citizen would have to leave the UK.

In the Guildford Borough area, 2,708 of the 4,363 Western European EU citizens own their own home and (so they would all need to be sold) and 1,060 of the 1,727 Eastern European EU citizens rent a property, so again all those rental properties would all come on the market at the same time.

Hard Brexit and mass EU Migration would mean c.1800 properties being dumped onto the housing market in a short period of time, meaning there would be a massive drop in Guildford property values and rents, causing negative equity for thousands of Guildford homeowners and many buy-to-let landlords would be out of pocket.

While there is no certainty as to what the future will hold, both UK expats in the EU and EU citizens in the UK rights will no longer be guaranteed and will be subject to bilateral renegotiation.

All I ask is that the politicians are sensible with each other in the negotiations. A lot of the success of the Guildford (and UK) property market has been built on high levels of homeownership and more recently in the last 10/15 years, a growth of the rental sector with lots of demand from Eastern Europeans coming to Guildford (and the surrounding area) to get work and provide for their families. Many Guildford people have invested their life savings into buying a buy to let property.

Much will depend on what is politically realistic. Unilateral knee-jerk reactions and measures caused by a hard Brexit would not only likely cause major disruption or suffering to the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK, but also everyone who owns property in the UK … politics aside – a hard Brexit is in no one’s interests.

Should the 7,929 home owning OAP’s of Guildford be forced to downsize?

This was a question posed to me on social media a few weeks ago, after my article about our mature members of Guildford society and the fact many retirees feel trapped in their homes. After working hard for many years and buying a home for themselves and their family, the children have subsequently flown the nest and now they are left to rattle round in a big house. Many feel trapped in their big homes (hence I dubbed these Guildford home owning mature members of our society, ‘Generation Trapped’).

So, should we force OAP Guildford homeowners to downsize?

Well in the original article, I suggested that we as a society should encourage, through building, tax breaks and social acceptance that it’s a good thing to downsize. But should the Government force OAP’s?

Well, one of the biggest reasons OAP’s move home is health (or lack of it)

Looking at the statistics for Guildford, of the 7,929 Homeowners who are 65 years and older, whilst 5,121 of them described themselves in good or very good health, a sizeable 2,218 home owning OAPs described themselves as in fair health and 590 in bad or very bad health.

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7.44% of Guildford home owning OAP’s are in poor health

But if you look at the figures for the whole of Guildford Borough Council, there are only 313 specialist retirement homes that one could buy (if they were in fact for sale) and 433 homes available to rent from the Council and other specialist providers (again- you would be waiting for dead man’s shoes to get your foot in the door) and many older homeowners wouldn’t feel comfortable with the idea of renting a retirement property after enjoying the security of owning their own home for most of their adult lives.

My intuition tells me the majority ‘would be’ Guildford downsizers could certainly afford to move but are staying put in bigger family homes because they can’t find a suitable smaller property. The fact is there simply aren’t enough bungalows for the healthy older members of the Guildford population and specialist retirement properties for the ones who aren’t in such good health … we need to build more appropriate houses in Guildford.

 The Government’s Housing White Paper, published a few weeks ago, could have solved so many problems with the UK housing market, including the issue of homing our aging population. Instead, it ended up feeling annoyingly ambiguous. Forcing our older generation to move with such measures as a punitive taxation (say a tax on wasted bedrooms for people who are retired) would be the wrong thing to do. Instead of the stick – maybe the Government could use the carrot tactics and offered tax breaks for downsizers. Who knows – but something has to happen?

.. and come to think about it, isn’t the word ‘downsize’ such an awful word?  I prefer to use the word ‘decent-size’ instead of ‘down-size’- as the other phrase feels like they are lowering themselves, as though they are having to downgrade themselves in their retirement (and let’s be frank – no one likes to be downgraded).

The simple fact is we are living longer as a population and constantly growing with increased birth rates and immigration. So, what I would say to all the homeowners and property owning public of Guildford is … more houses and apartments need to be built in the Guildford area, especially more specialist retirement properties and bungalows. The Government had a golden opportunity with the White Paper – and were sadly found lacking.

And a message to my Guildford property investor readers whilst this issue gets sorted in the coming decade(s)  – maybe seriously consider doing up older bungalows – people will pay handsomely for them – be they for sale or even rent? Just a thought!

8,200,644 People use Guildford Train Station a year – How does that affect the Guildford Property Market?

It might surprise you that it isn’t always the poshest villages around Guildford or the swankiest Guildford streets where properties sell and let the quickest. Quite often, it’s the ones that have the best transport links. I mean, there is a reason why one of the most popular property programmes on television is called Location, Location, Location!

As an agent in Guildford, I am frequently confronted with queries about the Guildford property market, and most days I am asked, “What is the best part of Guildford and its villages to live in these days?”, chiefly from new-comers.  Now the answer is different for each person – a lot depends on the demographics of their family, their age, schooling requirements and interests etc. Nonetheless, one of the principal necessities for most tenants and buyers is ease of access to transport links, including public transport – of which the railways are very important.

Official figures recently released state that, in total, 11,265 people jump on a train each and every day from Guildford Train station. Of those, 4,969 are season ticket holders. That’s a lot of money being spent when a season ticket, standard class, to London is £3,496 a year.

So, if up to £17.37m is being spent on rail season tickets each year from Guildford, those commuters must have some impressive jobs and incomes to allow them to afford that season ticket in the first place. That means demand for middle to upper market properties remains strong in Guildford and the surrounding area and so, in turn, these are the type of people whom are happy to invest in the Guildford buy to let market – providing homes for the tenants of Guildford…

The bottom line is that property values in Guildford would be much lower, by at least 3% to 4%, if it wasn’t for the proximity of the railway station and the people it serves in the town. And this isn’t a flash in the pan.

Rail is becoming increasingly important as the costs associated with car travel continue to rise and roads are becoming more and more congested. This has resulted in a huge surge in rail travel.

Overall usage of the station at Guildford has increased over the last 20 years. In 1997, a total of 4,930,474 people went through the barriers or connected with another train at the station in that 12-month period. However, in 2016, that figure had risen to 8,200,644 people using the station (that’s 22,529 people a day).

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The juxtaposition of the property and the train station has an important effect on the value and saleability of a Guildford property. It is also significant for tenants – so if you are a Guildford buy to let investor looking for a property – the distance to and from the railway station can be extremely significant.

One of the first things house buyers and tenants do when surfing the web for somewhere to live is find out the proximity of a property to the train station. That is why Rightmove displays the distance to the railway station alongside each and every property on their website.

For more thoughts on the Guildford Property market – please visit the Guildford Property Journal at http://www.guildfordpropertyjournal.co.uk

 

Guildford rents rise by 22.6% since 2005

The Guildford Property Market is a very interesting animal and has been particularly fascinating over the last 12 years when we consider what has happened to Guildford rents and house prices.

There’s currently much talk of what will happen to the rental property market following Brexit. To judge that, I believe we must look what happened in the 2008/9 credit crunch (and what has happened since) to judge rationale and methodically, the possible ramifications for long-term investors in the Guildford property market. You see, an important, yet overlooked measure is the performance of rental income vs house prices (i.e. the resultant yields over time). In Guildford (as for the rest of Great Britain), notwithstanding a slight drop in 2008 and 2009, property rentals have been gradually increasing.

The income from rentals has been progressively increasing over the last 12 years. Today, they are 22.6% higher than they were at the beginning of 2005. In fact, over the last five years, the average growth has been 2.4% per annum. From a landlord’s point of view, increase in average rental income is not to be sneered at. However, the observant readers will be noting that we are ignoring an important factor – our friend inflation.

Turn the clock back to 2005, and we have a property being rented for say £900 a month and that is still being rented at £900 a month today, in Spring of 2017. While the landlord is not getting any less income, this £900 is no longer worth as much. Let me explain, in 2005, £900 may have bought a two-week 4* holiday in Italy. Yet, holidays have increased in line with inflation (which has been 38.5% since 2005), so our holiday would cost today £1,246 (£900 + 38.5% inflation = £1,246). Therefore, the landlord could no longer afford the same holiday, even though having the same amount in pound notes from their rental property.

This means when we compare rents in Guildford to inflation since 2005, Guildford landlords are worse off today, when they receive their monthly rental income, than they were in 2005 by 15.9% in real terms (rents increased by 22.6% since 2005, less the 38.5% inflation since 2005 – net affect 15.9% drop)

However, rental income is not the only way to generate money from property as property values can increase. Although in the short term, cash flows are diminishing, many Guildford landlords may be content to accept that for a colossal increase in capital value.

Property values in Guildford have risen by 72.9% since 2005

This equates to a reasonably salubrious 6.08% per annum increase over the last 12 years. Even more interesting that this includes the 2008/9 property crash, this will make those Guildford landlords and investors feel a little better about the information regarding rents after inflation.

Moving forward, the prospects of making easy money on buy to let in Guildford have diminished, when compared to 2005. Last decade, making money from buy to let was as easy as falling off a log – but not anymore.

It would be true to say, my rental income verses property prices study does lead to noteworthy thoughts. I am often asked to look at my landlord’s rental portfolios, to ascertain the spread of their investment across their multiple properties. It’s all about judging whether what you have will meet your needs of the investment in the future. It’s the balance of capital growth and yield whilst diversifying this risk.

If you are investing in the Guildford property market, do your homework and do it well. While some yields may look attractive, there are properties in many areas that do not have the solid rudiments in place to sustain them. If you are looking for capital growth, you might be surprised where the hidden gems really are. Take advice, even ask your agent for a portfolio analysis like I offer my landlords. The clear majority of agents in Guildford will be able to give a detailed analysis of past and anticipated investment opportunity (especially the awful effect of inflation) on your portfolio. However, if they can’t help – well, you know where I am, the kettle is on!

For more thoughts on the Guildford Property market – visit the Guildford Property Journal. www.guildfordpropertyjournal.co.uk

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Guildford Rents To Rise Quicker Than Guildford Property Prices In Next 5 Years

The next five years will see an interesting change in the Guildford property market. My recent research has concluded that the rent private tenants pay in Guildford will rise faster than Guildford property prices over the next five years, creating further issues to Guildford’s growing multitude of renters. In fact, my examination of statistics forecasts that ..

By 2022, Guildford rents will increase by 24%, whereas Guildford property values will only grow by 18%.

Let me explain why I have come to those conclusions:

Over the last five years, property values in Guildford have risen by 43.7%, whilst rents have only risen by 18.6%.

Throughout the last few years, and compounded in 2016, tenant demand for rental properties continued to go up whilst the Press predicted some landlords expect to reduce their portfolios in the next couple of years, meaning Guildford tenants will have fewer properties to choose from, which will push rents higher. In fact, talking to fellow property professionals in Guildford, there appears to be privation and shortage of new rental properties coming on to the Guildford lettings market.

Landlords have some intriguing challenges ahead of them in the coming years most notably in that the Tory’s have changed the taxation rules for landlords in the way buy to let properties are to be taxed. On top of that, there is the ban on letting agent fees which is still to come into force (probably in 2018). When that happened in Scotland in 2012, Scottish letting agents passed on those fees to their landlords, who in turn increased the rent they charged to their tenants.

All I would say to Theresa May and Philip Hammond is that they must be wary about indicating both red and green lights at the same time to the private rented sector. They can’t expect the armies of small private landlords to continue to house around a fifth of the population and then tax the hell out of them. They didn’t invest in buy to let as a charity or to satisfy any philanthropic urges. Something has to give – and that will be significant rent rises over the coming few years (and before anyone gives me any derogatory comments about landlords … if it wasn’t for landlords buying all these buy to let properties over the last 15 years, I am not sure where everyone would be living today – because most the Council houses were sold off in the 1980’s!).

With the challenges ahead, with the ‘B’ word (that’s budget if you wondered!), house price inflation will be tempered over the coming five years in Guildford. As I have discussed in previous articles, the number of properties on the market in Guildford remains close to historic lows, which is both good as it keeps houses prices relatively stable, yet not so good as it impedes choice for buyers… and hence why I believe property values in Guildford will only be 18% higher in five years’ time.

Whilst on the other side of the coin, with the challenges facing landlords and the significant shortage of new homes being built, Guildford people still need somewhere to live. If those people aren’t buying houses and the local authority aren’t building council houses in there thousands (because they have no money), with the average rent for a Guildford rental property currently standing at £2,241 per month …

Over the next five years, I predict the average rent in Guildford will rise to £2,779 per month

These are interesting times. There is still money to be made in buy to let in Guildford – Guildford landlords will just need to be smarter and more savvy with their investments. If you are looking for such advice and opinion to help you meet those investment goals, one place you can find more information is the Guildford Property Journal. www.guildfordpropertyjournal.co.uk

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Only 484 Properties For Sale in Guildford

2017 has started with some positive interest in the Guildford property market.  Taking a snap shot of the Guildford 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 12 months ago:

Type of Guildford Property Number of Properties on the Market 12 months ago Number of Properties on the Market now % change
Detached 137 141 +3%
 
Semi 96 117 +22%
 
Terraced 31 34 +10%
 
Flat 106 141 +33%

So when we add in building plots and other types of properties that don’t fit into the four main categories, that means there are 462 properties for sale today compared with 394 a year ago, a rise of 17%.

Next, Guildford asking prices, compared to the same as a year ago, are 4% lower.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at what property was actually selling for in Guildford. Taking my information from the Land Registry, the last available six months property transactions for GU1 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 November 2016 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.

Jun-16 Jul-16 Aug-16 Sep-16 Oct-16 Nov-16
Detached £981,250 (8) £1,095,833 (15) £1,032,231 (13) £1,265,111 (9) £820,722 (9) £1,006,000 (9)
Semi

Detached

£564,973 (13) £508,545 (10) £516,553 (19) £530,772 (9) £504,995 (10) £512,955 (11)
Terraced £604,143 (7) £492,417 (6) £646,643 (7) £369,500 (5) £376,500 (5) £524,992 (6)
Flat £267,917 (6) £304,568 (11) £317,835 (17) £308,509 (18) £383,631 (13) £344,080 (13)
All £618,563 (34) £662,564 (42) £592,200 (56) £574,722 (41) £521,787 (37) £572,294 (39)

So what does all this mean for the property owning folk of Guildford?

Well, with more property on the market than a year ago and asking prices 4% lower, 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 Guildford property ladder, have much more price information about the Guildford property market at their fingertips than ever before.

Those Guildford 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 Guildford 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 wont waste their time asking for a brochure. They won’t 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 Guildford 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 Guildford property is being marketed at the right price, send me a web link and I will give you my honest opinion.

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‘Flipping’ Heck – Guildford Property Values Rise by £74.41 a day

Investing in Guildford 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 Guildford’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 Guildford, 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 – 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 Guildford property has risen by £135,800 (equivalent to £74.41 a day), taking it to a current average value of £585,400. Yields range from 5% a year and can reach double digits’ percentages (although to achieve those sorts of returns, the risks are higher).

However, something I haven’t 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 …

 

  • Another Guildford buyer flipped a lovely semi detached cottage on Stroud Common, Shamley Green, paying £410,000 in January 2016 and selling it again after some doing some cosmetic works, sold it for £535,000 a few months ago (December 2016) … 30.49% return before costs (or equivalent 33.07% AER)

This demonstrates how the Guildford and surrounding property market has not only provided very strong returns for the average investor over the last five years but how it has permitted a group of motivated buy to let Guildford landlords and investors to become particularly wealthy.

As my article mentioned a few weeks ago, more and more Guildford people may be giving up on owning their own home and are 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 Guildford, then one place for such information would be the Guildford Property Journal www.guildfordpropertyjournal.co.uk