The first interest rate increase in a decade! How will this affect Baldock homeowners and landlords?

train station sign

At the start of this month the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee announced a rise in the Bank of England base rate of 0.25% – the first increase in over a decade.

The base rate is the figure on which mortgage rates in particular are based and a whole generation of aspiring homeowners will be wondering what to make of it.

Don’t panic!  Although the base rate has effectively doubled, 0.25% remains a very small increase and simply returns us to the same 0.5% rate that had been in force between March 2009 and August last year, when it was dropped in response to the Brexit referendum result.

While those on a variable rate or tracker mortgage will notice a small increase in monthly payments, those who chose a fixed rate mortgage will not feel any effect at all.

If this new rate is passed on to mortgage interest rates, as it almost certainly will be, the monthly commitment of new buyers will be around £31.25 extra per month on a £150,000 mortgage. This is unlikely to have any direct effect on the property market.

This increase appears to be in response to increasing inflation and the indirect effects could be more noticeable.

However, is this the start of a rising trend?  If you are contemplating a move, it would be worth doing so quickly; sell before any downward pressure on house prices kicks in, and lock in to a low fixed rate mortgage on your purchase.

As ever, as your local property experts, we’d be happy to advise, without obligation, on how this, and any other market influences, might impact on your moving plans or property value.  Please feel free to call me or the team on 01462 894565 or pop into the office for a cup of tea and a chat.

Baldock Homeowners and their £260.9 million Debt

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Over the last 12 months, the UK has decided to leave the EU, have a General Election with a result that didn’t go to plan for Mrs May and to add insult to injury, our American cousins elected Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. It could be said this should have caused some unnecessary unpredictability into the UK property market.

The reality is that the housing and mortgage market (for the time being) has shown a noteworthy resilience. Indeed on the back of the Monetary Policy pursued by the Bank of England there has been a notable improvement of macro-economic conditions! In July for example it was announced that we are witness to the lowest levels of unemployment for nearly 50 years. Furthermore, despite the UK construction industry building 21% more properties than same time the previous year, there has still been a disproportionate increase in demand for housing, particularly in the most thriving areas of the Country. Repossessions too are also at an all-time low at 3,985 for the last Quarter (Q1 2017) from a high of 29,145 in Q1 2009. All these things have resulted in…

 

Property values in Baldock according to the

Land Registry are 3.3% higher than a year ago

 

So, what does all this mean for the homeowners and landlords of Baldock, especially in relation to property prices moving forward?

One vital bellwether of the property market (and property values) is the mortgage market. The UK mortgage market is worth £961,653,701,493 (that’s £961bn) and it representative of 13,314,512 mortgages (interestingly, the UK’s mortgage market is the largest in Europe in terms of amount lent per year and the total value of outstanding loans). Uncertainty causes banks to stop lending – look what happened in the credit crunch and that seriously affects property prices.

Roll the clock back to 2007, and nobody had heard of the term ‘credit crunch’, but now the expression has entered our everyday language.  It took a few months throughout the autumn of 2007, before the crunch started to hit the Baldock property market, but in late 2007, and for the following year and half, Baldock property values dropped each month like the notorious heavy lead balloon, meaning …

 

The credit crunch caused Baldockscreen

property values to drop by 14.4%

 

 

 

Under the sustained pressure of the Credit Crunch, the Bank of England realised that the UK economy was stalling in the early autumn of 2008. Loan book lending (sub-prime phenomenon) in the US and across the world was the trigger for this pressure. In a bid to stimulate the British economy there were six successive interest rates drops between October 2008 and March 2009; this resulted in interest rates falling from 5% to 0.5%!

Thankfully, after a period of stagnation, the Baldock property market started to recover slowly in 2011 as certainty returned to the economy as a whole and Baldock property values really took off in 2013 as the economy sped upwards. Thankfully, the ‘fire’ was taken out of the property market in Spring 2015 (otherwise we could have had another boom and bust scenario like we had in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s), with new mortgage lending rules. Throughout 2016, we saw a return to more realistic and stable medium term property price growth. Interestingly, property prices recovered in Baldock from the post Credit Crunch 2009 dip and are now 64.7% higher than they were in 2009.

Now, as we enter the Autumn of 2017, with the Conservatives having been re-elected on their slender majority, the Baldock property market has recouped its composure and in fact, there has been some aggressive competition among mortgage lenders, which has driven mortgage rates down to record lows. This is good news for Baldock homeowners and landlords, over the last few months a mortgage price war has broken out between lenders, with many slashing the rates on their deals to the lowest they have ever offered. For example, last month, HSBC launched a 1.69% five-year fixed mortgage!

Interestingly, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the level of mortgage lending had soared to an all-time high in the UK.

 

In the Baldock postcode of SG7, if you added up everyone’s mortgage,

it would total £260,941,623!

Since 1977, the average Bank of England interest rate has been 6.65%, making the current 323 year all time low rate of 0.25% very low indeed. Thankfully, the proportion of borrowers fixing their mortgage rate has gone from 31.52% in the autumn of 2012 to the current 59.3%. If you haven’t fixed – maybe you should follow the majority?

In my modest opinion, especially if things do get a little rocky and uncertainty seeps back in the coming years (and nobody knows what will happen on that front), one thing I know is for certain, interest rates can only go one way from their 300 year ultra 0.25% low level … and that is why I consider it important to highlight this to all the homeowners and landlords of Baldock. Maybe, just maybe, you might want to consider taking some advice from a qualified mortgage adviser? There are plenty of them in Baldock.

If you are interested in the Baldock Property Market, you might learn something by visiting the blog. http://www.baldockpropertyblog.co.uk

 

Baldock’s New 3 Speed Property Market

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“What’s happening to the Baldock 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 Baldock 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’ Baldock Property Market.
  2. lower to middle’ Baldock Property Market.
  3. ‘middle’ Baldock Property Market.

 

The ‘lower’ and ‘lower to middle’ sectors of the Baldock 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 Baldock 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’ Baldock 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’ Baldock housing market – the bottom 10% (in terms of value) of properties sold
  2. lower to middle’ Baldock housing market – lower Quartile (or lowest 25% in terms of value) of properties sold
  3. middle’ Baldock housing market – which is the median in terms of value

 

If one looks at the figures for North Hertfordshire District Council area you can see the three different sectors (lower, lower/middle and middle) have performed quite differently.

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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 £361,822, would have been £400,229 instead – quite a difference you must agree?

 

181 graph 2

 

Now, I have specifically not mentioned the upper reaches of the Baldock 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 Baldock’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 Baldock property market – looking at the stats for the up-market Baldock property market from Land Registry, only 24 properties in Baldock (and a 5 mile radius around it) have sold for £1,500,000 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 Baldock Property Market, but many Baldock “micro-property markets”, you can spot trends and bag yourself some potential bargains. Even in this market, I have spotted a number of bargains over the last few months that I have shared in my Property Blog and to my landlord database, especially in the ‘lower’ and ‘lower/middle’ market. If you want to be kept informed of those buy to let bargains, have a look at my blog http://www.baldockpropertyblog.co.uk  it’s free to do so and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss out – would you?

I would love to know if you have spotted any micro-property markets in Baldock.

658,208 People use Baldock Train Station a year……

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How does that affect the Baldock Property Market?

 

It might surprise you that it isn’t always the poshest villages around Baldock or the swankiest Baldock 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 Baldock, I am frequently confronted with queries about the Baldock property market and most days, chiefly from newcomers, I am asked “What is the best part of Baldock and its villages to live in these days?”.  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, 902 people jump on a train each and every day from Baldock Train station. Of those, 336 are season ticket holders. That’s a lot of money being spent when a season ticket, standard class, to London is £5,432 a year.

If up to £1.82m is being spent on rail season tickets each year from Baldock, 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 Baldock and the surrounding area and so, in turn, these are the type of people who are happy to invest in the Baldock buy to let market, providing homes for the tenants of Baldock.

The bottom line is that property values in Baldock 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

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.

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Overall usage of the station at Baldock has increased over the last 20 years. In 1997, a total of 229,353 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 658,208 people using the station (that’s 1,803 people a day).

The juxtaposition of the property and the train station has an important effect on the value and saleability of a Baldock property. It is also significant for tenants – so if you are a Baldock 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 Baldock Property market and for any advice please pop into the office or give us a call on 01462 894565.

What will the General Election do to 5,604 Baldock Homeowners?

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In Baldock, of the 5,604 households, 1,792 homes are owned without a mortgage and 2,034 homes are owned by a mortgage. Many homeowners have made contact me with asking what the General Election will do the Baldock 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:

168 Graph One

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):

168 Graph Two

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 767 private rented properties in Baldock? Well, as I have discussed in previous articles (and just as relevant for homeowners as well) property value growth in Baldock 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 Baldock, making it imperative that Baldock 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 Baldock property market or for any advice, please either pop into the office, call us on 01462 894565 or e-mail: lettings@satchells.co.uk.

How The Rented Sector Has Transformed The Property Market In Baldock

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The Baldock 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 Baldock tenants and Baldock landlords.

The government recently released a white paper on housing which I have read 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 Baldock population.

In 1981, the population of North Hertfordshire stood at

108,600 and today it stands at 131,700

157 Graph

Currently, the private rented (B-T-L) sector accounts for 13.2% 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.

53.01% Baldock people owned their own home in 1981

38.08% Baldock people rented from the Council or Housing Association in 1981

 and 8.91% Baldock rented from a Private Landlord       

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 North Hertfordshire set to grow to 161,000 by 2037 it is imperative that North Hertfordshire District Council and central government all work actively together to ensure the residential property market does not 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 Baldock 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 Baldock 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 Baldock and North Hertfordshire, be it B-T-L or B-T-R, has the prospective to play a very positive role.

 

Baldock’s ‘Generation Trapped’ and the £712.9m legacy

Generation Trapped Pic 2

Last week, I wrote an article on the plight of the Baldock 20 something’s often referred to by the press as ‘Generation Rent’. Attitudes to renting have certainly changed over the last twenty years and as my analysis suggested, this change is likely to be permanent. In the article, whilst a minority of this Generation Rent feel trapped, the majority don’t – making renting a choice not a predicament. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) predicted that the private rental sector is likely to grow substantially by 1.8m households across the UK in the next 8 years, with demand for rental property unlikely to slow and newly formed households continuing to choose the rental market as opposed to buying.

However, my real concern for Baldock homeowners and Baldock landlords alike, is our mature members of the population of Baldock.  Currently OAP’s (65+ yrs in age) in Baldock are sitting on £418.7m of residential property.  However, what about the ‘Baby Boomers’, the 50yr to 64yr old Baldock people and what their properties are worth – and more importantly, how the current state of affairs could be holding back those younger generation renters.

In Baldock, there are 465 households whose owners are aged between 50yrs and 64yrs and about to pay their mortgage off.  That property is worth, in today’s prices, £174.3m. There are an additional 320 mortgage free Baldock households, owned by 50yr to 64yr olds, worth £119.9m in today’s prices, meaning…

Baldock 156 Graph

Baldock Baby Boomers and Baldock OAP’s are sitting

on £712.9m worth of Baldock property

These Baldock Baby Boomers and OAP’s are sitting on 7,918 Baldock properties and many of them feel trapped in their homes, and hence I have dubbed them ‘Generation Trapped’.

Recently, the English Housing Survey stated 49% of these properties owned by the Generation Trapped, as I have dubbed them, are ‘under-occupied’ (under-occupied classed as having at least two bedrooms more than needed). These houses could be better utilised by younger families, but research carried out by the Prudential suggest in Britain it’s estimated that only one in ten older people downsize while in the USA for example one in five do so.

The growing numbers of older homeowners who want to downsize their home are often put off by the difficulties of moving. The charity United for all Ages, suggested recently many are put off by the lack of housing options, 19% by the hassle and cost of moving, 14% by having to de-clutter their possessions and 14% by family reasons such as staying close to children and grandchildren.

Helping mature Baldock (and the Country) homeowners to downsize at the right time will also enable younger Baldock people to find the homes they need – meaning every generation wins, both young and old. However, to ensure downsizing works, as a Country, we need more choices for these ‘last time buyers’.

Theresa May and Philip Hammond can do their part and consider stamp duty tax breaks for downsizers, our local Council in Baldock and the Planning Dept. should play their part, as should landlords and property investors to ensure Baldock’s ‘Generation Trapped’ can find suitable property locally, close to friends, family and facilities.

‘Flipping heck – Baldock’s property values rise by £41.58 a day!

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Investing in Baldock buy to let property is different from investing in the stock market or depositing your hard earned cash in a  Building Society. When you invest your money in a 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 Baldock’s landlords – they are making their own decisions rather than entrusting them to city whizz kids in Canary Wharf playing roulette with their savings.

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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 Baldock, 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 Baldock property has risen by £75,892 (equivalent to £41.58 a day), taking it to a current average value of £367,100. 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 …

One Baldock Investor paid £300,000 for a 3 bedroom house on Church Street in September 2015.  The property was re-furbished and it was resold a few months ago (November 2016) for £437,500 … 45.83% return before costs (or compound annual return equivalent of 37.34% AER).

Some shots of the property before the work was completed:

A shot  of the  garden after  the work was completed & intended kitchen:

This demonstrates how the Baldock 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 Baldock landlords and investors to become particularly wealthy.

As my article mentioned a few weeks ago, more and more Baldock 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  would, and what would not,  make a decent buy to let property in Baldock, please contact us on 01462 894565 or send us a rightmove link to consider.

Baldock property of the week…..

Take a look at our latest property of the week video – Country Properties are selling a two bedroom apartment with Juliet balcony in prime high street development for £199,950.  With a potential rental yield of around 5% this is one we feel landlords should look at.   Click here for Country Properties advert and call them quick – this won’t hang around long!

58 Properties For Sale in Baldock … is this a good time to sell?

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2017 has started with some positive interest in the Baldock property market.  Taking a snap shot of the Baldock 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:

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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 58 properties for sale today compared with 45 a year ago, a rise of 29%.

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Baldock asking prices, compared to a year ago, are 7% higher.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at what property was actually selling for in Baldock. Taking my information from the Land Registry, the last available six months property transactions for SG7 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.

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

Well, with more property on the market than a year ago and asking prices 7% higher, 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 Baldock property ladder, have much more price information about the Baldock property market at their fingertips than ever before.

Those Baldock 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 Baldock 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 Baldock 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 Baldock 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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