40.1 miles – The average distance people go to escape living in Baldock

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“How far do Baldock 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 Baldock 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, 192 households moved out of Baldock and the average distance was 40.08 miles, the equivalent of moving from Baldock to Brackley as the crow flies.  The greatest distance travelled was 448 miles, that’s almost 17 marathons, when someone moved to Bangor in Northern Ireland.

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Considering there were 177 property sales in SG7 in the year and countless tenant moves, the numbers seem 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 Baldock.  Using the same statistics for the 12 months up to the middle of Autumn 2016, 202 households moved into Baldock and the average distance was 28.82 miles, the equivalent of moving from Amersham to Baldock, again as the crow flies.  The greatest distance travelled again was 496 miles, that’s the same as 19 marathons when someone moved from Garlogie in Scotland to Baldock.

I have looked at the data of every person moving into Baldock 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 Baldock.  As you can see, there are a high proportion of people moving from London and from the South West.

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So, what does all this mean for the landlords and homeowners of Baldock?

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 Baldock 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 Baldock property market, call us on 01462 894565 or pop in for a cuppa

6.52 Babies Born for Each New Home Built in the Baldock area

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As more babies are being born to Baldock and North Hertfordshire mothers, I believe this increase will continue to add pressure to the over stretched Baldock 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 6.52 babies were born for every new home that was built in the North Hertfordshire Council area in 2016.  I believe this has and will continue to exacerbate the Baldock housing shortage, meaning demand for housing, be it to buy or rent, has remained high.  The high birth rate has meant Baldock rents and Baldock 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 North Hertfordshire Council area had an average of 63.8 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 64.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.

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The number of births from Baldock and North Hertfordshire 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 Baldock 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 Baldock.

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 Baldock 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 Baldock 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 Ivel Springs or Weston Hills, 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 Baldock, 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!

 

Should the 1,677 home owning OAP’s of Baldock be forced to downsize?

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This was a question posed to me on social media a few weeks ago, after my article about our mature members of Baldock 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 Baldock home owning mature members of our society, ‘Generation Trapped’).

Should we force OAP Baldock homeowners to downsize?

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?

One of the biggest reasons OAP’s move home is health (or lack of it).  Looking at the statistics for Baldock, of the 1,677 homeowners who are 65 years and older, whilst 1,062 of them described themselves in good or very good health, a sizeable 484 home owning OAPs described themselves as in fair health and 131 in bad or very bad health.

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7.81% of Baldock home owning OAP’s are in poor health

If you look at the figures for the whole of North Hertfordshire District Council (not just Baldock), there are only 818 specialist retirement homes that one could buy (if they were in fact for sale) and 956 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’ Baldock down-sizers 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 Baldock population and specialist retirement properties for the ones who aren’t in such good health … we need to build more appropriate houses in Baldock.

The government’s housing White Paper, published recently, could have solved so many problems with the UK housing market, including the issue of homing our ageing 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 down-sizers.  Who knows, but something has to happen?

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.  What I would say to all the homeowners and property owning public of Baldock is more houses and apartments need to be built in the Baldock area, especially more specialist retirement properties and bungalows.  The government had a golden opportunity with the White Paper and were sadly found lacking.

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