Local W4 market information for homeowners, Landlords & Investors.

Month: March 2016

Only 14,305 Council Houses in the Chiswick and Hounslow area left – Opportunity or problem?

The ‘Right to Buy’ scheme was a policy introduced by Maggie Thatcher in 1980 which gave secure council tenants the legal right to buy the Council home they were living in with huge discounts. The heyday of Council ‘Right To Buys’ was in the 80’s and 90’s, when 1,719,368 homes in the country were sold in this manner between October 1980 and April 1998. However, in 1997, Tony Blair reduced the discount available to tenants of council houses and the numbers of properties being bought under the Right to Buy declined.

 

So what does this mean for Chiswick homeowners and landlords? Well quite a lot in fact!

 

Looking at the figures for our local authority, whilst the number of ‘Right to Buys’ have dwindled over the last few years to an average of only 15 ‘Right to Buy’ sales per year, one must look further back in time. Looking at the overall figures, 6,663 Council properties were bought by council tenants in the Hounslow London Borough Council area between 1980 and 1998. Big numbers by any measure and even more important to the whole Chiswick property market (i.e. every Chiswick homeowner, Chiswick landlord and even Chiswick aspiring first time buyers) when you consider these 6,663 properties make up a colossal 13.9% of all the privately owned properties in our area (because in this local authority area, there are only 47,640 privately owned properties).

 

Chiswick first time buyers and landlords can now buy these ex-council properties second hand (or the PC brigade like to call them ‘pre-loved ex–local authority dwellings’) as those original 80’s and 90’s tenants (now homeowners) have more than passed the time of any claw back of the discount they received (council discount was repayable if the first owner sold within a stipulated time period – usually 5 years).

 

Now let us all be honest, some (not all), but some ex-council properties lack the vital KSA that some landlords crave. The new homes builders know all about KSA (or Kerb-Side-Appeal) as they dress up the exteriors of their new homes to make them more appealing to buyers … and if you don’t believe me … why do Show homes exist? Going on the exterior looks of a modern property might be a theoretically good way of choosing a Chiswick buy-to-let property, but in a challenging market, some Chiswick investors are finding a more no-nonsense down to earth approach brings the largest returns.

 

Yes, the modern stuff being built in Chiswick is lovely, but too many landlords purchase buy to let property solely based on where they would choose to live themselves, instead of choosing with a business head and choosing where a tenant would want to live … because remember the first rule of buy to let property … you aren’t going to live the property yourself. What an ex-council property lack in terms of KSA, they more than make up for in other ways. Tenants more worried about how close the property is to a particular school or family members for child care matter to them far more than the look of a property.

 

Whilst ex-council properties tend to increase in value at a slower rate than more modern properties, that is more than made up in the much higher yields – and those built between the wars or just after are really well built. Tenant demand for such properties is good since Chiswick property values are so expensive, a lot of people can’t get mortgages to buy, so they will reconcile themselves to renting, meaning there is a good demand for that sort of property to rent. Also, the very fact the council were forced to sell these Chiswick properties in the 80’s and 90’s, means that today’s younger generation who would have normally got a council house to live in themselves, now can’t as many were sold ten or twenty years ago.

 

So to Chiswick landlords I say this … don’t dismiss ex-council houses and apartments – but remember the 1st rule of buy to let (see above). However, those very same Chiswick landlords should go in with their eyes open and take lots of advice. Not all ex-council properties are the same and even though they have good demand and high yields, they can also give you other headaches and issues when it comes to the running of the rental property.

 

 

 

Data

 

 

 

  • Office of National Stats for the local authority on the council sell offs and property numbers
  • Census for the Council House numbers

 

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Has owning a home in Chiswick become just a dream for the 28 year olds?

Looking at some research by the Post Office from a few years ago, in the 1960’s the average age people bought their first house was 23. By the early 1970s, it had reached 27, rising to 28 in the early 1980’s.

 

This year alone, 4,321 people in Hounslow London Borough council will turn 28 and 3,722 in 2017 .. and dare I say 3,257 in 2018 .. year in year out the conveyor belt carries on .. where are the Chiswick youngsters going to live?

 

Ask a Chiswick ‘twenty something’ and they will say they do not expect to buy until they are in their mid thirties – seven years later than the 1980’s. Some people even say they will never be able to buy a property and the newspapers have labelled them ‘Generation Rent’ as they are people born in the 1980s who have no hope of getting on the property ladder. One of the major problems facing young Chiswick people is the large deposit needed to get a mortgage .. or is it?

 

The average price paid for an apartment in Chiswick over the last 12 months has been £577,900 meaning our first time buyer would need to save £28,895 as a deposit (as 95% mortgages have been available to first time buyers since 2010) plus a couple of thousand for solicitors and survey costs. A lot of money, but people don’t think anything today of spending a couple of thousand pounds to go on holiday; the latest iPhone upgrade or the latest 4K HD television. That amount could soon be saved if these ‘luxuries’ were withheld over a couple of years but attitudes have changed.

 

Official figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show the average male in Hounslow London Borough with a full-time job earns £590.10 per week whilst the average female salary is £503.60 a week, meaning they would not be in a position to purchase an apartment in the heart of Chiswick, however within the London Borough of Hounslow these combined average wages would allow a young couple to buy a 1 bed apartment in which could be purchased for around £225k.

 

I was reading a report/survey commissioned by Paragon Mortgages from the autumn of last year. The thing that struck me was that when tenants were asked about their long term housing plans, some 35% of participating tenants intend to remain within the rental sector and 24% intended to buy a house in the future, with the proportion of respondents citing the “unaffordability” of housing as the reason for renting privately increasing from 69% to 74%.

 

However, time and time again, in the starter home category of property (ie apartments), nine times out of ten the mortgage payments to buy a Chiswick property are cheaper than having to rent in Chiswick. It is the tenant’s perception that they believe they can’t buy, so choose not to. Renting is now a choice. Tenants can upgrade to bigger and better properties and move up the property ladder quicker than their parents or grand parents (albeit they don’t own the property). Over the last decade, culturally in the UK, there has been a change in the attitude to renting so, unless that attitude changes, I expect that the private rental sector in Chiswick (and the UK as a whole) is likely to remain a popular choice for the next twenty plus years. With demand for Chiswick rental property unlikely to slow and newly formed households continuing to choose the rental market instead of purchasing a property. I also forecast that renting will continue to offer good value for money for tenants and recommend landlords pursue professional advice and adopt a realistic approach to rental increases to ensure that they are in line with inflation and any void periods are curtailed.

 

 

 

Data

 

 

Numbers of moving age from the PostOffice

 

28 year olds – Census

 

Salaries- Office of national Stats for the Local authority area

 

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Chiswick’s ‘Generation Rent’ to grow by 1,155 households by 2021

“The growth of the private rented sector, and the arrival of an investor class of buy to let landlords within it, is an issue that won’t be going away anytime soon, no matter what you read in the Daily Mail”, I said, as I chatted over lunch with a landlord client of mine at Nikki’s Bakery on Chiswick High Road. Whether you are a landlord of mine (or not as the case maybe), I am always happy to look over any properties you are thinking of buying for buy to let purposes and more so over a coffee or a bite to eat!

Some commentators are saying buy to let is about to die, with the new stamp duty changes and how mortgage tax relief will be calculated. Some say 500,000 rental properties will flood the market nationally in the next 12 months as landlords leave the rental market. Have you heard the phrase ‘Bad news sells newspapers’? Let me explain why buy to let in Chiswick is only going in one direction – and not the direction the papers state.

According to Sheffield University, buy to let landlords will continue fuelling the growth of the private rented sector in the coming decades. By their estimates (and they are considered a centre of excellence on the topic), the rate of homeownership nationally will fall to 50% (today it is 54.7% in the Chiswick area) by 2032, while the rate of private sector renting will increase to 35% (interestingly, in the Chiswick area it stands at 28.5% today).

Therefore, the demand for rental accommodation in Chiswick and the W4 postcode area will grow by 1,155 households in the next five years … and these are the reasons why, irrespective of the distractions set out in the newspapers.

Chiswick property values over the last six years have risen a lot more than average wages/salaries, meaning as homeownership and mortgage availability is dependent on your ability to pay has served to push home ownership further out of reach for many, at a time when the stock of council houses has actually withered. (Nationally, the number of council houses in the last ten years has dropped from 3.16m to 2.18m households – a drop of 31.1%).

Now it’s true the Tory’s efforts to fix the deficiency of affordable housing have focused on those who want to buy a home, ranging from Help to Buy and their much vaunted Help to Buy Isa, and Starter Homes Scheme, an initiative offering a 20% discount for first time buyers … but if you are unable to save for the deposit … none of this means anything to the ‘20 something’s’ of Chiswick … and they still need a roof over their heads!

Currently, 12,521 people live in private rented accommodation in Chiswick and W4

These are big numbers and a sizeable chunk of the electorate. So whilst it appears Chiswick “Generation Rent” youngsters will continue to rent and to not to buy for the reasons set out above, Chiswick buy-to-let landlords will be lifted by the projections of greater rental demand. Chiswick and the area around it still offers the prospect of strong economic growth forecasts and has a reputation as a lively and desirable place to live. You see, with the new rules on tax, more and more landlords will be looking to move away from the previous honeypot of central ‘Zone 1’ London, because its higher prices means lower rental yields. With the new tax rules and central London’s cooling of house price inflation, more and more landlords will look further afield, including Chiswick (interestingly, I have already been chatting to a few central London landlords after they read the Chiswick Property Blog).

So, by 2021, the number of rental properties in Chiswick and W4 will rise to 7,941

This prediction in growth of the Chiswick rental market is even on the back of the government clamping down on tax reliefs for landlords. The point is this, gone are the days of making guaranteed returns on BTL property. For the last 20 to 30 years, irrespective of which property you bought, making decent money on buy to let property was like shooting fish in a barrel – anyone could do it – but not now. You must take a more considered approach to your existing and future portfolio, especially in Chiswick. The balance of capital growth and yield, especially in this low interest rate world we live in, means Chiswick landlords need to do more homework to ensure the investment in property gives the desired returns.

Data on Stats –

Numbers on current figures taken from the Office of National Stats from the Census.
Assumed growth in rental figures using the average of a number of commentators predictions of the growth of rental market nationally from 15.6% to 22% by 2021

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11.6% rise in Chiswick Property Values adds weight to the suburb’s Housing Crisis

Chiswick’s continuing housing shortage is putting the suburb’s (and the Country’s) repute as a nation of homeowners ‘under threat’, as the number of houses being built continues to be woefully inadequate in meeting the ever demanding needs of the growing population in the suburb. In fact, I was talking to my neighbour the other day in the local coffee shop ; the subject of the Chiswick Property market came up in the conversation (as I am sure it is a common topic of discussion in Chiswick) after the weather and Politics. My neighbour said It used to be that if you went out to work and did the right thing, you would expect that relatively quickly over the course of your career you would be buying a house, you would go on holiday every year, you would save for a pension. But now things seem to have changed?

 

Back in the Autumn, George Osborne, used the Autumn Statement to double the housing budget to £2bn a year from April 2018 in an attempt to increase supply and deliver 100,000 new homes each year until 2020. The Chancellor also introduced a series of initiatives to help get first time buyers on the housing ladder, including the contentious Help to Buy Scheme and extending Right to Buy from not just Council tenants, but to Housing Association tenants as well.

 

Now that does all sound rather good, but the Country is only building 137,490 properties a year (split down 114,250 built by private builders, 21,560 built by Housing Associations and and a paltry 1,680 council houses). The last time the country was building 230,000 houses a year nationally was in the 1960’s.

 

How George is going to almost double house building overnight, I don’t know, because using the analogy of a greengrocers; if people want to buy more apples (i.e. houses) in a greengrocers’ shop, giving them more money (i.e. with the Help to Buy scheme) when there’s not enough apples in the first place doesn’t really help.

 

Looking at the Chiswick house building figures, in the local authority area as a whole, only 1,010 properties were built in the last 12 months, split down into 570 privately built properties and 370 housing association with only 70 council houses being built. This is simply not enough and the shortage of supply has meant Chiswick property values have continued to rise, meaning they are 11.6% higher than 12 months ago, rising 1.4% in the last month alone.

 

I was taught at school (all those years ago!), that’s it’s all about supply and demand, this economics game. The demand for Chiswick property has been particularly strong for properties in the good areas of the suburb and it is my considered opinion that it is likely to continue this year, driven by growing demand among buyers (both Chiswick homebuyers and Chiswick landlords alike). You see Chiswick’s economy is quite varied, meaning activity is expected to remain relatively strong into the early Summer of 2016, especially as some Chiswick buy to let landlords try to complete purchases ahead of the introduction of new stamp duty rules in April.

 

.. and of supply, well we have spoken about the lack of new building in the suburb holding things back, but there is another issue relating to supply. Of the existing properties already built, the concern is the number of properties on the market and for sale. The number of properties for sale last month in Chiswick was 732, whilst five and a half years ago, that figure was 848 whilst eight years ago it stood at 1,053… a massive drop!

 

With demand for Chiswick property rising, minimal new homes being built and less properties coming onto the market, that can only mean one thing … now is a good time to be a homeowner or landlord in Chiswick.

 

:Data from Office of National Stats for Building Numbers and House price growth from Land Registry.

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£575,000 inheritance – Is buying Chiswick Property still the best place for my windfall?

I had an interesting email from someone in Chiswick a few weeks ago that I want to share with you (don’t worry I asked his permission to share this with you all). In a nutshell, the gentleman lives in Acton, he is in his mid 60’s and still working. He has a decent pension, so that when he does retire in a couple of years’ time, it will give him a comfortable life. He had recently inherited £575,000 from an elderly aunt. One option he told me was put it into a savings account. The best he could find was a 2 year bond with the Post Office which paid 1.9%; meaning he would get £10,925 in interest a year. One of his other options was to buy a property in Chiswick to rent out and he wanted to know my thoughts on what he should buy, but he had concerns as he didn’t want to take a mortgage out at his time of life. He was also worried about all the tax changes he had read about in the papers for landlords.

 

Notwithstanding the war on Chiswick landlords being waged by George Osborne, the attraction of bricks and mortar endures for many. As our man is a cash buyer, he would not have to deal with the intricate cut to mortgage interest tax relief that will diminish, or even eradicate, the profits of many Chiswick landlords. It’s true he would face the extra 3% in stamp duty to buy a second property, but with some good negotiation techniques, that could soon be mitigated.

 

I told him that buying a Chiswick buy to let property is all about the total return on investment. True, he could put the money in the Post Office bond and receive his interest of £10,925 a year or, as he rightly suggested, invest in property in Chiswick. The average yield (yield being the equivalent of the interest rate on the property) at the moment in Chiswick is 2.56% per annum, meaning our potential F.T.L (First Time Landlord) should be able to, depending on what he bought in the suburb, earn before costs £14,720 a year. (However, I told him there are plenty of landlords in Chiswick earning half as much again (if not more), if he was willing to consider more specialist investment types of properties – again, if you want to know where – look at my blog or drop me an email).

 

The bottom line is that the success of investing in Chiswick buy to let property versus a savings account with the Post Office (or whatever Bank or Building Society is offering the best rate) will depend on the performance of those assets. Unlike with a savings account, with property the capital you invested can also go up (and yes, it can go down as well – more of that in second). Property values in Chiswick have risen in the last twelve months by 11.6% meaning, that if our chap had bought a year ago, not only would he have received the £14,720 in rent, but also seen an uplift of £66,700 …meaning his overall return for the year would have been £81,420 (not bad when compared to the Post Office!).

 

.. but the doom mongers amongst you will say, property values can go down, as they did in 2008, and in 1988 and 1979. Yes, but after 1979 prices had bounced back to their ’79 levels by 1984 and went on to grow an additional 58% in the following four years. Then again, they dropped in 1988 and did take 13 years to reach back to those ’88 figures, but the following six years (between 2001 and 2007) they then increased by an additional 66%. Now, according to the Land Registry, average property values in Hounslow currently stand 36.96% above the January 2008 level, and anecdotal evidence suggests that in the nicer parts of Chiswick, we are well above these sorts of levels. Therefore, all this talk of property crashes is unfounded.

 

… and what would that £575,000 get you in Chiswick? A superb 3 bed apartment in Chiswick Village, a stunning 2 bed apartment just off Chiswick High Road or a lovely 2 bed apartment on Grange Road .. in fact, the world is your oyster. But which Oyster? Well, my blog reading friends, if you want to read similar articles like this and what I consider to be the very best of buy to let deals in Chiswick, irrespective of which agent is selling it, then you need to visit the Chiswick Property Blog. www.chiswickpropertyblog.co.uk

 

 

 

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