Local W4 market information for homeowners, Landlords & Investors.

Month: June 2016

The Chiswick Property Market and The Euro 2016 Football Tournament

With the Referendum on EU membership out of the way, our households can concentrate on something European that doesn’t involve party political broadcasts or politician’s treating us all like children – the Euro 2016 Football Tournament. Chiswick is home to all different backgrounds and nationalities so if you’re not lucky enough to be jetting off to France for the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament, have no fear! For a bit of fun (although there is a serious side to this – you know there would be with me!) I have taken a look at which European people live in Chiswick so I know who to soak up the best atmosphere with!

 

During my research some interesting numbers appear. Going into the Euro 2016 tournament, France were 3/1 favourite’s, then Germany 7/2, third Spain 11/2, then England 9/1, Italy 16/1, Poland 50/1, Romania and Wales at 100/1, Ireland at 150/1 and Northern Ireland 500/1 (although Leicester were 5000/1 at the start of last season).

 

Of the 128,556 residents of the Brentford and Isleworth Constituency for Westminster, of the Home Nations going into the competition, 70,052 of them are from England, 1,082 from Wales, 607 from Northern Ireland and 2,437 from Ireland, although I do feel sorry for the 1,596 Scots who didn’t get into the finals. Now interestingly, looking at the Mainland Europeans residents in the Brentford and Isleworth Constituency, it might not surprise you that they make up 10.16% of the population as a whole in the Westminster area.

 

However, even more fascinating, of those 10.16% European’s residents, 3.66% are from Western Europe because EU residents from Eastern Europe – i.e. the Accession Countries to the EU between 2003 to 2007 (Czech Republic,

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania) – make up 6.51% of the population of the Brentford and Isleworth Constituency.

 

Broken down into the relevant football teams, there are in the Brentford and Isleworth Constituency …

 

944 French people

785 Germans

784 Italians

559 Spanish

5,808 Poles

391 Romanians

 

 

But what does this have to do with the Chiswick property market? Quite a lot in fact. Many of these European people were economic migrants, especially those from Eastern Europe. A lot of people’s concerns over migration are exaggerated as this EU

migration has acted to fill gaps in skills and labour supply during growth periods of the mid 2000’s and subsequently over the last five years in Chiswick, EU migrants have done little to displace native workers but do the jobs us Brits don’t often want to do. There is no preferential treatment for council housing in Chiswick, so EU migrants have in fact increased demand for privately rented accommodation in Chiswick.

This has meant, as demand for housing in Chiswick has remained strong, Chiswick landlords have continued to buy properties to rent out to keep up with this demand. Therefore, the value of every homeowner’s property in Chiswick has been kept high because of the demand from these Chiswick landlords buying starter homes to rent out, releasing existing homeowners to go up the property ladder – benefiting everyone in the chain.

However, rents have remained relatively subdued, in Chiswick rents are only 27.6% higher than they were in 2005, not bad when you consider we have had 38.52% inflation in the UK economy as a whole over the same 11 years.

EU migration has meant existing homeowners, landlords and the economy as a whole in Chiswick (and the UK) have benefitted from better economic conditions, property prices not slumping whilst rents have been kept in check by wage inflation. Now I wonder who will win the footy? Back to the TV!

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48.9% of Hounslow Borough (incl. Chiswick ) Voters voted to leave the EU – What now for the 16,361 Chiswick Landlords and Homeowners?

It’s 5.50am as I start to type this article and David Dimbleby has just announced the UK will be leaving the EU as the final votes are counted. As most of the polls suggested a Remain Vote, it came as a surprise to most people, including the City. The Pound has dropped 6% this morning after the City Whiz kids got their predictions wrong and MP’s from the Remain camp are using words like “challenging times ahead”.

 

.. and now the vote has been made .. what next for the 10,729 Chiswick homeowners especially the 5,684 of those Chiswick homeowners with a mortgage?

 

The Chancellor in the campaign suggested property prices would drop by 18%. Using Treasury estimates, their method of calculating this was tenuous at best, but focused around the abrupt and hasty increase in UK interest rates, which in turn would raise the cost of mortgages, and therefore lower demand for property, causing a drop in property prices.… and I would say, yes .. that will probably happen.

 

Chiswick Property Values

 

Chiswick property values will probably drop in the coming 12 to 18 months – but by 18% – I am sorry I find that a little pessimistic and believe that figure was rhetoric to get homeowners and landlords to vote in a particular way. But the UK property market is quite a monster.

 

Since the last In/Out EU Referendum in June 1975,

property values in Chiswick have risen by 3,198.3%

 

(That isn’t a typo) and whilst property prices did drop nationally by 18.7% between the peak of 2007 and bottom of the market in 2009, when one compares property values today in the country, compared to that all-time high of 2007, (the period before the financial crisis of the Credit Crunch of 2008/9), they are still up 10.14% higher.

 

Another Credit Crunch?

 

And so, notwithstanding the Credit Crunch, the worst global economic outlook since the 1930s and the recession it brought us, a matter of a few years later, the Government were panicking in 2012/3/4 that the housing market was a runaway train.

 

Now the same Credit Crunch doom-mongers and Sooth-Sayers that predicted soup kitchens in 2008/9 are predicting Brexit meltdown. Bad news sells newspapers. Stock markets may rise, stock markets may fall, yet the British public continued to buy property in 2009/10 and beyond. Aspiring first time buyers and buy to let landlords dusted themselves down, took a deep breath and carried on buying… because us Brit’s love our Bricks and Mortar, we need a roof over our head.

 

However, as mentioned previously, if the value of the pound drops, in the past UK Interest Rates have risen to reverse that drop. However, whilst a cheaper pound will make your pint of Sangria a little more expensive on your Spanish holiday this year and make your brand new BMW pricier, it will make British exports cheaper! Which is great for the economy.

 

Interest rates

 

… and what of interest rates? Since 2009, interest rates have been at 0.5% and lots of people have become accustomed to those sorts of levels. So what if interest rates rise ,end of the world? Interest rates in the 1986/88 property boom were on average 9.25%, the 1990’s they were on average around 6.5% and uber-boom years (when UK property values were rising by 20% a year for three or four straight years across the UK) , 4.5%. Many of you reading this who are in their 50’s and older will remember interest rates at 15%.

 

But I suspect interest rates won’t rise that much anyway, as Mark Carney (Chief of the Bank Of England) knows, raising interest rates causes deflation – which is the last thing the British economy needs at the moment. In fact they have been printing money (aka Quantitative Easing) for the last few years (which causes inflation) to the tune of £375bn a month. A bit of inflation because the pound has slipped on the money markets (not too much mind you) might be a good thing?

 

.. because whilst property values might drop in the country, they will bounce back. It’s only a paper loss, because it only becomes real if you sell. And if you have to sell, again as most people move up market when they sell, whilst your property might have dropped by 5% or 10%, the one you want to buy would have dropped by the same 5% to 10% and here is the best part – (and work your sums out) you would actually be better off because the more expensive property you would be purchasing would have come down in value (in actual pound notes) than the one you are selling.

 

The Chiswick landlords of the 4,701 Chiswick buy to let properties have nothing to fear neither, nor do the 11,612 tenants living in their properties.

 

Buy to let is a long term investment. I think there might even be some buy to let bargains in the coming months as some people, irrespective of evidence, panic. Even if we pull up the drawbridge at Dover and immigration stopped today, the British population will still increase at a rate that will exceed the current property building level. Britain is building 139,600 properties a year, but needs according to the eminent ‘Barker Review of Housing Supply Report’, the country needs to build about 250,000 properties a year to even stand still, and as the birth rate is increasing, the population is living longer and just under a quarter of all UK households now are occupied by a single person demand is only going up whilst supply is stifled. Greater demand than supply equals higher prices. That is definitely a fact.

 

So, what will happen next?

 

Well, there are many challenges ahead. The country has spoken and we are now in unchartered territory – but we have been through a couple of World Wars, an Oil Crisis, Black Monday, Black Wednesday, 15% interest rates and a Credit Crunch … and we survived!

 

And the value of your Chiswick property? It might have a short term wobble… but in the long term -it’s safe as houses regardless.

 

 

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194% increase in Property Values in Chiswick since the Millennium

Chiswick house prices since the Millennium have risen by 194.82%, whilst average salaries in Chiswick have only grown by 51.27% over the same time frame. This has served to push homeownership further out of reach for many Chiswick people as they have to battle against raising considerable deposits and meet sterner lending criteria, as a result of new mortgage regulations introduced in 2014/5. The private rental market in Chiswick has grown throughout the last twenty years with buy-to-let investors purchasing a high proportion of newly built residential properties that were built and designed for the owner occupier sales markets. For example, in the Brentford and Isleworth Constituency, roll the clock back 20 years and there were 44,907 properties in the Constituency, whilst the most recent set of figures show there are 51,083 properties – a growth of 6,176 properties.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests that a large majority of those 6,176 were bought by Chiswick buy-to-let landlords, as over the same 20-year time frame, the number of rental properties has grown from 3,768 to 13,599 in the Constituency – a rise of 9,831 properties.

Nevertheless, some say this historic growth of the Chiswick rental market might start to change with the new tax rules for landlords introduced by Mr. Osborne over the last seven or eight months. Yet the numbers tell another story. Across the board, mortgage borrowing climbed to a 9 year zenith in March this year as the British property markets traditional Easter rush corresponded with landlords hurrying to beat George Osborne’s new stamp duty changes – buy-to-let landlords borrowed £7.1bn in

March 2016 (the latest set of figures released) which was 163% up on the £2.7bn borrowed in the previous March.

 

You see, from my point of view, I don’t think things will get worse in the buy-to-let market in Chiswick and these are the reasons why I believe that:

 

Firstly, what else are Chiswick landlords going to invest in if it isn’t property – the stock market? Since the Millennium, the stock market has risen by an unimpressive total of 5.54%, quite different to the 194.82% rise in Chiswick property prices?

 

Secondly, its true the 3% stamp duty is the first blow on top of a number of other tax changes to be phased in between 2017 and 2021, such as landlords facing a constraint in their ability to offset mortgage interest and, if sizeable numbers of landlords do take the decision to sell their portfolios, this will lead to a substantial amount of second hand properties being put up for sale. Yet that might not be a bad thing, as I have mentioned in previous articles there is a serious shortage of properties to buy at the moment in Chiswick: the stock of property for sale being at a six year all time low.

 

.. Thirdly, if there are fewer rental properties in Chiswick, as supply drops and demand remains the same (although ask any letting agent in Chiswick and they will say demand is constantly rising) this will create a squeeze in the Chiswick rental market and as a result rents will rise. In fact, I predict even if landlords don’t sell up, Chiswick rents will rise as Chiswick landlords seek to compensate for increased costs, which means more landlords will be attracted back.

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53.6% of Chiswick Tenants are White Collar Middle Class

With Chiswick youngsters not able to buy their own property, my research would suggest the progressively important role the private rented sector has been playing in housing people in need of a roof over their head. This is especially true at a time of increasing affordability problems for first time buyers and growing difficulties faced by social housing providers (local authorities and housing associations) in their ability to secure funding from Westminster and then compete against the likes of the Berkeley Group & Redrow to buy highly priced building land.

 

Renting isn’t like it was in the 1960’s and 70’s, where tenants couldn’t wait to leave their rack-rent landlords, charging sky-high rents for properties with Second World War        wood-chip wallpaper, no central heating and drafty windows. Since 1997 with the introduction of buy to let mortgages and a new breed of Chiswick landlord, the private rented sector in Chiswick has offered increasingly high quality accommodation for younger Chiswick households.

 

So whilst I knew in my own mind that the type and class of tenant has improved over the last 20 years, I had nothing to back that up … until now. According to some detailed statistics from Durham University just released, for the London Borough of Hounslow Council area, the current situation regarding social status of tenants shows some very interesting points. Using the well known Demographic ABC1 grade classifications which refers to the social grade definitions.

Of the 46,424 tenants who live in a private rented property in the London Borough of Hounslow Council area, 25.8% (or 11,873) of those tenants are classified in the AB category (AB Category being Higher and intermediate managerial / administrative / professional occupations), compared to 26.86% owner occupiers who own their property without a mortgage or 6.28% who rent their property from the local authority. Fascinating don’t you think?

 

Looking at the C1’s (C1’s being the Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial / administrative / professional occupations), of the already mentioned 46,424 tenants in the area, an impressive 13,016 of them are considered to be in the C1 category (or 28.04%). Again, when compared with the owner occupiers who own their property without a mortgage, that figure stands at 32.5%   and 25.47% who rent their property from the local authority. So, if we use the conventional measurements recorded by the white-collar “ABC1” i.e. middle class ….

 

This means 53.61% of tenants are considered middle class in Chiswick

 

 

I could go through all of the social categories through to ‘E’, but I humbly don’t want to bore you with too many numbers. The fact is that private tenants are moving up the social ladder and whilst back in the 1960’s and 70’s, the private rented sector in Chiswick (and the rest of the UK) has customarily been viewed as a temporary tenure for 20 somethings before they bought a property, the increase in renting in Chiswick, which I have talked about many times in the Chiswick Property Market Blog may be a reflection of increasing difficulty for this group in accessing other tenures, but may also be a reflection that people nowadays choose to rent long term instead?

 

Chiswick Landlords need to be aware that tenants now demand more from their properties, the agent and their landlord and whilst affordability for first-time buyers and tighter controls on lending may mean that potential first-time buyers are in the private rented sector for longer, they will still pay ‘top dollar’ rent for a ‘top dollar’ property.

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26.8% slump in Hounslow Property Transactions

In this post credit crunch world of sub terrain low interest and annuity rates so low a limbo dancer would smart, the growth of buy to let since 2009 has been phenomenal. So much so, there has been an evolution in purchase of property in the UK from that of just buying the roof over one’s head to that of a buy to let investment where it is seen as a standalone financial asset to fund current and future (ie pensions) investment. So recently, a few days before the release of latest Land Registry data of property transactions, quite a few market commenters were anticipating a huge increase in the number of properties sold in January as the 1st of April 2016 stamp duty deadline got closer.

 

Looking at the most recent set of data from The Land Registry, it seems there has been a drop in the number of completed property sales in the Hounslow Borough Council area. Year on year, completed property sales in January (the latest set of data released) fell by 26.8% to 183 compared with 250 in January 2015. Nationally, the number is similar, as the number of completed house sales fell by 5% in January 2016 compared with January 2015. Some might say this counters the reports that there was a rush by landlords to buy ‘buy to let’ property ahead of the 1st April 2016 deadline but where was the stampede that many expected?

 

Looking even closer to home, in the W4 postcode in January 2016, 46 properties changed hands, whilst 62 properties did so in January 2015. It’s even more interesting when you look at the average price paid, in January 2016, it was £963,397 yet in January 2015, the average price paid was £892,273.

 

Is the buy to let dream over for Chiswick landlords?

 

.. but as ever my Chiswick Property Blog readers, the devil is in the detail. The 3% stamp duty surcharge for buy to let landlords was announced in the Autumn Statement on the 25th November 2015. Anyone who has bought a property knows from their offer being accepted to receiving the keys and monies paid is a long drawn out affair, taking on average 8 to 12 weeks, as the Land Registry only get notified upon completion of the sale. We also need to factor in that Solicitors seem to have the last two weeks of December off anyway.

 

So if there was a rush in the last few days of November/early December in the Chiswick property market, we would only see the results of that in the February figures (released in June) and more probably March’s (released in July).

 

So why all the doom and gloom? Simple .. bad news sells newspapers and gets the headlines. Let’s be honest, the headline to this article is designed to be eye catching. However, when we look at both the bigger and smaller picture; nationally, property values dropped (month on month) by 0.5%; in the London region they rose 0.2%, whilst in Hounslow they rose by 1.8%. The year on year figures tell a completely different story to that.

 

 

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1,095 Hounslow Properties lie empty– An injustice for the 8,504 people on the Hounslow Council House Waiting List?

Easy problems should have easy solutions – shouldn’t they?

 

Problems like Chiswick’s housing crisis, where we have a rudimentary numerical problem of too few homes for too many people … the answer is clearly to build more property in Chiswick – but that, unfortunately for those desperately seeking to purchase or let a property, takes a lot of time and huge amounts of money. So what of other solutions?

 

Whilst at a dinner with friends recently, the subject of property was mentioned (as I am sure it does at most dinner parties up and down the country). Normally someone always mentions empty properties as the solution to the problem. On the face of it, it seems so obvious. Now quite interestingly, I had recently done some research on this topic, which I want to share with you (as I did with those at the dinner table).

 

The most recent set of figures from 2015 state there are 1,095 empty homes in the Hounslow London Borough Council area. So it begs the question … why not put them back onto the system and help ease the Chiswick housing crisis? Whilst they stand empty, 8,504 Hounslow households (not people – households) are on the Council House Waiting List for council houses. Surely, we can undoubtedly all agree that property left empty for years and years isn’t morally right with the burgeoning Council House Waiting List, not to also mention the issue of homelessness.

 

But a different story emerges when you look deeper into the numbers. Of those 1,095 homes lying empty, only 403 properties were empty for more than six months. The local authority has to report a property being empty, even if its for a week. So many of the Chiswick properties are either awaiting new homeowners or, in the case of rental properties, new tenants. Also most certainly, some properties are being refurbished and renovated, while others properties have homeowners who are anxious to sell but cannot find a buyer.

 

And this is where its gets even more interesting. Of the 403 long-term vacant properties (those empty more than six months), 233 belong to the council. However, before we all go Council-bashing, anecdotal evidence suggests these empty council houses are habitually in need of so much restoration that it’s not worth the Council’s while to do and are in the roughest parts of the council estates, they are properties that even the Council find difficult to fill.

 

The fact is that the number of genuinely long term empty properties is only a tiny drop in the ocean of the 94,902 properties in the area covered by Hounslow London Borough Council and, even if every one of those empty homes were filled with happy cheerful tenants tomorrow, it would only meet a small fraction of Chiswick housing needs.

 

So what does this mean for all the homeowners and landlords of Chiswick? Well it means with demand being so high, especially for rental properties, the certainty of the rental market growing is an inevitability because young people cannot buy and councils don’t have the money to build new council houses. This in turn bolsters property prices as landlords continue to buy at the lower end of the market (starter homes, etc), which in turn sustains the rest of the market as those sellers move up the property ladder, releasing others in turn to buy on again.

 

These are interesting times in the Chiswick property market!

 

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