Blackpool 2nd and 3rd Time Buyers Finding it Tougher (and slower) to Move Up the Blackpool Property Ladder

Post lockdown, the need for Blackpool families who want bigger homes has meant Blackpool homebuyers must now pay considerably more to trade up to that larger home…

One thing that has come out of lockdown has been the inexorable movement of Blackpool households wanting to upsize to a larger home. Often considered to be first time buyer properties, the smaller 1st step on the property ladder one and two bedroom properties are selling quite well, yet demand for those properties on the 2nd and 3rd step rungs on the Blackpool property ladder (i.e. the three or four bedroom homes) has been even greater. 

This demand has been driven by Blackpool buyers looking for more living space, especially those looking for an area or room to work from home (be that a bedroom, reception room or even an outbuilding converted into a study).

The average asking price of a 3 bed Blackpool home is £134,500, whilst for a 4 bed Blackpool home it stands at £224,700

As you can see, quite a jump for an extra bedroom! The heightened contest for 2nd and 3rd step Blackpool homes for that extra bedroom has pushed demand to a record in October for those looking to take the next step up the ladder. Historically, as a family and its household income grow, the need for more space has permanently been the No.1 reason for moving home, yet now there is a new need for additional space to facilitate people working from home. This means not only do we have growing families wanting larger Blackpool homes, there are also the people needing the same larger homes for space for a home office. Therefore, looking at the current stats, as you can see, the Blackpool property market is doing quite well…

47.7% of all 3 bed and 45.6% of all 4 bed homes

in Blackpool are sold (subject to contract)

Roll the clock back to pre-Covid and ask any Blackpool homeowner who had enough bedrooms for their children if they wanted an additional bedroom, and most homeowners would say that was very much a ‘nice to have’, yet not a ‘must have’. With us all being cooped-up over the spring this year, demand for additional rooms is at a high, with those presently looking for their next larger Blackpool home are probably going to find that only offers close to (if not sometimes over) the asking price will be accepted.

Even though no properties sold during lockdown, putting the Blackpool (and UK) property market on hold for many months, many more people buying their next Blackpool home will have more than made up for it since lockdown was lifted as the portals have stated if the UK property market remains at its existing trajectory, then the number of properties sold YTD by the end of October 2020 will be greater than YTD October 2019. 

Yet all these properties sold are causing another issue. Just because a property becomes Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC) doesn’t mean the property is actually “sold”. Before going into Covid, it was taking approximately 19 weeks between agreeing a sale price (and instructing lawyers) to completing the sale. Yet, because we are nationally running at 140% to 150% of properties SSTC (than where we normally are at this time of year), many of my estate agents colleagues are having to manage expectations with buyers and sellers, and tell them that the date they are going to move will take a little longer.

The elephant in the room is that the temporary stamp duty holiday ends on the 31st March 2021

It sounds an age away, yet trust me, nothing could be further from the truth.  Adding an extra month for the additional homes in the bottleneck means even if the sale of your Blackpool home was agreed today, that would take us to the 3rd week in March  .. that’s cutting it very close for the stamp duty holiday.

It is so fundamental for buyers and sellers of Blackpool homes to work meticulously with their estate agent, solicitor and mortgage lender. For example, there are less staff in the local authorities to do the local searches, bank staff are working from home meaning mortgages are taking much longer to get approved, and conveyancer/solicitors are snowed under with work. Therefore, if you get a document that needs filling in, are asked to provide documents, pay disbursements or questions need answering, do it immediately and without delay. A day here and day there will snowball and could mean you miss the stamp duty holiday … and that could cost you thousands and thousands of pounds.

The bottom line is that we haven’t seen this sort of pressure on the UK property market since 1987, when dual-MIRAS was abolished. Now, as we are slowly starting to come out of Covid, with many legal and banking staff are working remotely or still on furlough, the perfect storm has occurred with unprecedented demand from buyers looking to move post lockdown. The best advice I can give is as soon as you put your property onto the market, find a solicitor that has the capacity to work with you, then instruct that solicitor to start work immediately to prepare the paperwork, so once you have a buyer, things can move more smoothly and quickly. The last thing you want is to lose out on saving thousands of pounds by missing the Stamp Duty holiday by a whisker.

Hamza Anwar

Local Letting Expert

hamza.anwar@martinco.com

Stamp Duty Holiday – rush to buy?

Is now a better time to invest to take advantage of the Stamp Duty Holiday? Just to reiterate some facts:

  • No stamp duty was payable up until the purchase property price is atleast £125 000
  • 3% additional stamp duty is still payable (if you already own a property) for any residential purchase over the £40 000 threshold. Remember if you are buying a block of flats, you can get each flat valued individually (For HMRC purposes) and may be able to get values all below the £40 000 threshold and hence avoid paying the additional stamp duty
  • Stamp duty holiday applies to all residential properties upto the value of £500 000 and this is for all completions taking place before the 31st of March 2021 (that’s only 35 weeks away). Remember lenders are operating in slower time scales then previous and Conveyancers are building up back logs, so this will add to already quite long time scales on purchases.

Average prices by property type

So what should you consider if you are exploring options for your residential property?

  •  if you have been considering a property purchase, now may be a good time, as the price you will pay for your residential property will be higher then your average buy to let purchase. Say for example a property purchase price of £310 000, you will save £5500 under the current Stamp Duty Holiday terms.
  •  will property prices increase? We use buyer enquiries as a Key Indicator of local market demand, in the month of July we experienced a 19% increase (year on year) in buyer enquiries, which was of course helped by the announcement of the Stamp Duty Holiday (SDH). Property prices have increased 2.1% (nationally) since March, however it is hard to determine what the percentage increase would have been without the announcement of the Stamp Duty Holiday. I feel prices will be propped up and if you end up paying £5000 extra (due to increased demand because of the SDH) on your £310 000 residential property purchase, in effect you are no better off!
  • Lending – we are hearing lenders are being a lot more cautious and we feel this trend will continue and lenders will continue to monitor economic factors and availability of products may reduce towards the end of the year
  • Wait until 1st of April 2021? It is hard to look at historic records to attempt to forecast how the market will react post the end of the SDH. However, we know many sales will take place before the deadline and it is fair to consider a slump in demand. However, many properties will come on market now as homeowners need to sell as they look to purchase their next home and take advantage of the SDH. Supply will reduce post the end of the SDH. Covid-19, a second wave? A slump in business confidence, unemployment spikes post end of Furlough Scheme, will all lead to adverse effects on the overall economy. To summarise, factors to consider which will affect property prices, a reduction in supply of residential properties, drop in prices due to reduced demand, a weak economic forecast leading to property prices falling. In my opinion if you were looking to move already you should definitely take advantage of the stamp duty holiday and I would recommend you have agreed a purchase within 12 weeks, if you need to sell to move, then look to get your property on the market and speak to a broker for mortgage and credit options available to yourself. If you didn’t have intention to move in short term, I would ride out the next few months (especially considering all the uncertainty stemming from the current pandemic), see how the market reacts and wait for your dream home post the end of the SDH.

To get a free online valuation on your property, please follow link below:

https://www.martinco.com/estate-agents-and-letting-agents/branch/fylde-coast/instant-valuation?location=

We work with Connect mortgages an independent panel covering all of the market, to see your mortgage options available for yourself and to save money on your current mortgages, let me know and I will put you in touch.

Below is a simple table I have done showing Stamp Duty that will be liable Residential Property Purchases during the Stamp Duty Holiday period:

Purchase Price Rate on Main Residence Rate for additional Properties (EG buy to let properties)
Up to £500 000 0% 3%
£500 001 – £925 000 5% 8%
£925 001 – £1 500 000 10% 13%

Below is a snapshot to give you an idea of property price movements:

Key housing market indicesStamp Duty Holiday factors to consider when investing in Buy to Let in local property market:

  • Additional Stamp Duty (when you already have a property) still applies on residential property purchases at a rate of 3%
  • Blackpool average property sale price is just £133 000, remember the threshold for Stamp Duty was upto £125 000, so even prior to stamp duty holiday you would have only paid 2% over that amount (upto property next threshold of £250 000) so in this example if you were purchasing a property at £133 000 your stamp duty in normal circumstances would have only been £160!
  • Buy to Let property purchases tend to be in the lower average, so little impact (from SDH) on your future buy to let investments but if you were considering to purchase a higher value property especially with rising demand for AirBNB and HMO properties (and high yielding cash benefits), now would make sense!
  • Rental market demand is getting stronger, and with property cycles it is clear when there is uncertainty in the economy that first time buyer demand tends to drop and people tend to opt for rental properties. I am also a big adovate, with changes in lifestyle, shift away from lifetime employment with one company, working from home increasing, along with many other factors I feel UKs private rental market will continue to grow and rental will become a preferred option for many and the stigma attached to renting will continue to reduce

My recommendation grow your portfolio! The one piece of advice I will give, is have a plan and a clear strategy for your property business! It is a business, establish routines, have monthly meetings (even just with yourself) to review performance, are you moving forwards towards achieving your goals.

For me I established a why when I started property investing, which was by year X I want to be earning X amount net, with X number of hours of my time so me and my family can live the life we want from the income my property portfolio is generating. I review the performance of my portfolio monthly and try and make strategic decisions in regards to my next investments, improvements and property strategy (ie commercial, convert to serviced accommodation unit etc)

If you are looking to invest reach out to me and I will help 🙂

My investment of the week, is a property we are marketing in St Annes (with tenant in situ( on a very popular road (Kilnhouse Lane), we also currently manage the current tenancy.

  • Rented at £750, scope to increase
  • Capital growth opportunities in St Annes are higher opposed to that of central Blackpool
  • High demand rental property (4 bed, great area, not many competing rental properties)
  • Asking price of £159 000

https://www.martinco.com/property/for-sale/409651

IMG_6578_1_original

 

Hamza Anwar

Local Letting Expert

hamza.anwar@martinco.com

What’s Next for the Thornton-Cleveleys Property Market?

Slide4

There is no doubt that Coronavirus will affect the Thornton-Cleveleys Property Market, but just how?

The ensuing economic challenges are going to impact the Thornton-Cleveleys (and UK) property market, yet no one knows the real answer. The newspapers eulogise different opinions, but that’s all they are – opinions and everybody’s got a different opinion. The truth of the matter is we don’t know and won’t know for another few months at least, if not more?

There have been some outstanding Government supportive measures both for tenants, landlords, home buyers and sellers (including a pause on evictions for tenants, and for landlords and homeowners, mortgage payment deferments and stamp duty reductions to make buying a home cheaper), and whilst these are only temporary, they have done their job, meaning there is a good level of activity in the Thornton-Cleveleys property market.

A lot of that is pent-up demand from a couple of years of uncertainty because of Brexit. Also, we had the General Election in late 2019, so there have been so many reasons for people to sit on their hands. At beginning of 2020, it was like a water hose ready to burst with the Boris Bounce in January and February. Then, just as things were beginning to get going in the Thornton-Cleveleys property market, we had everything freeze up for months during lockdown. Since lockdown has been lifted…

the Thornton-Cleveleys property market is open once again for business and there is unquestionably some impressive activity both in the sales and rental market

So, back to the original question and where are we going? I think what we will see is a subtle change to where people want to live because of the pandemic. People working from home has shown that the need to be in the big cities has reduced and as employees have realised, they can work very efficiently from home, plus they are happier and have a better work/life balance. Their employers are also happy as they get more work out of their staff and can reduce their costly office footprint in the cities. The same goes for Thornton-Cleveleys tenants as they are wanting more from their rental homes. Three trends we have noticed is there is greater demand for properties with gardens, greater demand for Thornton-Cleveleys landlords who will accept pets (as they now can have them as they work from home) and finally, tenants willingness to pay top dollar for ‘top of the range’ properties, whilst more basic and uncared for properties without all the ‘bells and whistles’ need to go for a discount. There certainly has been a flight to quality.

Yet, what worries me is the fundamental future uncertainty in 2021 and beyond. What will things look like say in Spring 2021 when the Stamp Duty reductions are phased out? Any property sold needs to have completed by the end of March 2021 to take advantage of the tax holiday, meaning you need to have sold your Thornton-Cleveleys property by November 2020 at the very latest to ensure your property purchase and sale deal goes through in time (as it is taking on average up to 17 weeks between sale agreed and completion). This is where the difference between a great solicitor, brilliant estate agent and awesome mortgage broker compared to average ones will show. Good ones, when all three are working together for you, can get the sale through in 6 to 8 weeks, not the national average of 17 weeks, meaning if you are cutting it fine, you might not be able to take advantage of the tax savings in the spring. Give me a call if you want to know who the best of the best in Thornton-Cleveleys are to ensure you don’t lose out on those tax savings.

The value of the average Thornton-Cleveleys home currently stands at £120,800

So, what is going to happen to the Thornton-Cleveleys property market? It really depends on the economy as a whole and of course the property market is a large part of that. I know one thing that buy to let landlords and home buyers don’t like is ambiguity and the British housing market has always lived and breathed on emotion and sentiment. People will only buy and sell property (and borrow the money to make those transactions happen) when they feel good. Are all these things like Stamp Duty holidays just putting off the inevitable? Are we heading for the mother of all property crashes?

Well, let me put sentiment and opinion aside for a second and look at the simple facts.

 We have an increasing population, yet we don’t build enough houses

Since 1995, we have built on average 150,200 properties per year. The Barker Report said 2004 the country needed 240,000 per year to satisfy annual demand for new homes and whilst the number of new homes built in the UK last year rose 1% to a 13-year high, only 161,000 homes were built. That means over the last 25 years, with the difference between actual homes built and the targets set out in the Barker Report, we have an inbuilt shortage of 2,245,000 homes, meaning…

Since the Millennium, property values in Thornton-Cleveleys have increased by 143.5%

Other factors have contributed to that. The average age of a person leaving their parents’ home in the UK is 24.4 years and that has been dropping for a few years meaning more homes are required. People are also living longer (in 2000 the average person lived until 77.7 years and now it’s 81.1 years – doesn’t sound a lot until one considers for each additional year the average person lives in the UK, we need an additional 356,500 homes). Finally, we have got immigration. In the year ending March 2019, 612,000 people moved to the UK (immigration) and 385,000 people left the UK (emigration) – meaning a net increase of 227,000 people (or a requirement of c.100,000 homes to house them in one year alone). All those factors in themselves mean…

 we have more demand for Thornton-Cleveleys property than we have supply and that’s not going to change any time soon

Property markets are driven (like all markets) by supply and demand so I believe Thornton-Cleveleys property values can only rise in the long term. The question is whether Thornton-Cleveleys people will have the sentiment and confidence to borrow money on a mortgage and invest in Thornton-Cleveleys property, yet at the moment with ultra-low interest rates, borrowing money to buy a home has never been so cheap and if you are in it for the long-term (which you should be with property) then I think it’s good news.

One piece of good news is that mortgage lenders are willing to lend up to 90 per cent loan to value mortgages for first time buyers (and in some rare cases 95 per cent), albeit with a lot of strings attached … yet this is a good sign as the banks and building societies wouldn’t be lending at these levels if they were too scared.

Investing in property, be it for yourself to live in or buy to let is a long-term game. We might see an uplift in prices in the short term because of the demand mentioned above, then again, we might see a dip in 2021 yet again for the reasons mentioned above – until we start to build new homes to the scale of 300,000+ a year (something that has never been achieved since 1969), the long-term picture appears to good. Be you a Thornton-Cleveleys landlord, Thornton-Cleveleys house seller or Thornton-Cleveleys buyer, you do have to be a lot more strategic and thoughtful about what you are going to do. If you would like to pick my brains, drop me a message on social media or pick up the phone.

So those are my thoughts, tell me your thoughts for the future of the Thornton-Cleveleys property market?

 

Hamza Anwar

Local Property Expert 

Hamza.anwar@martinco.com

07889021247

https://calendly.com/hamza-anwar/15min

 

 

Blackpool Letting Market Update

 

What another action packed week, the market remains positive and my team at Martin and Co have been focusing on compliance for our clients and trying to review opportunities to increase profitability. 

 

Stamp Duty – this will of course have a huge impact over the Stamp Duty relief holiday payment. I have reviewed the facts and done some working through numbers to see how it will affect you locally. Just note the average price of a semi-detached property in Blackpool is £132 588, and Stamp Duty not payable upto £125 000 anyway. As a Landlord buying an additional property, you will still have to pay the 3% additional stamp duty. If you were looking to invest in a higher value property then it maybe worthwhile to do so whilst the relief is available. 

Average property values over the past 12 months

https://blackpoolpropertyblog.com/2020/07/10/blackpool-home-buyers-landlords-set-to-save-542510-in-stamp-duty-over-next-nine-month/

 

The Green Homes Grant – I have had many conversations with Landlords over the last few weeks since the announcement of this grant. Applications are due to start in August, and details are still vague. However, everyone seems excited about the Window and Door element of the funding. From my understanding the funding and what you are eligible will be based on the Energy Performance Certificate, the lower the rating the higher the chance of benefiting of new doors/windows. Funding seems to be applied to items such as insulation (cavity and loft) first, then if there is anything of the £5000 limit left and Windows will make a big difference to improve the property then you maybe eligible for a contribution towards it (for every £3 spent, grant will fund £2 towards it). A blog on this topic is below:

 

https://blackpoolpropertyblog.com/2020/07/23/every-blackpool-homeowner-landlord-to-receive-up-to-5000-grant-for-roof-insulation-double-glazing-from-september/

 

I would recommend:

 

  • Review your portfolio and see which properties have a low EPC rating, E or below
  • Highlight what potential works can be done to improve rating, have you got an old boiler? Single Glazed windows
  • Get ready to submit application 
  • If your buy to let doesnt have gas heating (electric heating currently) and your tenant receives benefits, you may qualify for a free boiler insulation under another scheme, let me know if you want more information on this front 

 

Mortgages/Buy-to-Let Purchases – have you considered reviewing your mortgages. We have partnered with Connect, who have saved a lot of our landlords significant amounts on their existing mortgages and we have several applications for our Clients who are purchasing to lets currently. Mortgage rates are at a record low rates, are you taking advantage of it? When did you last review? Connect are a All Market broker, and are guaranteed to search and find the best deal for yourself. If i can help on this front, just let me know 🙂 

 

Our focus this week in our Letting offices is securing higher rents on our existing tenancies. Landlords costs are increasing and there is a lot more legislation involved in renting and more to come, so we feel it is only right for the market to have rents increased, below is a chart showing rent increases in the Blackpool compared to North West and you can see the Blackpool area is well behind the average. A terraced house in Blackpool has only increased by 1.2% over the last 12 months, compared to 5.3% rent increase for the North West average. I
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My recommendation:

 

  • Renew your tenancies, so you can review rents and have a rent increase strategy (in my portfolio i look to increase rents by 3%, to secure this increase i may have to add value, ie improving property)
  • Market your properties with a good agent so they can maximise the rent you achieve for your property 
  • Dont put off that conversation with your tenant! Eat that frog! 

 

I love speaking to fellow Landlords and Investors, if you want to book a call and have a property related chat, follow link below:

 

https://calendly.com/hamza-anwar/15min

 

Every Blackpool Homeowner & Landlord to Receive up to £5,000 Grant for Roof Insulation & Double Glazing from September

Every Blackpool Homeowner & Landlord to Receive up to £5,000 Grant for Roof Insulation & Double Glazing from September

What you need to know

The Chancellor announced on Wednesday 8th July in his mini Budget some interesting news for Blackpool homeowners and Blackpool landlords. Rishi Sunak is going to give ‘The Green Homes Grant’ of up to £5,000 to cover two-thirds of the costs of environmentally friendly upgrades to your Blackpool property, with the homeowner covering the other third. There are also enhanced grants of £10,000 for the poorest households where 100% of the cost will be met by the Government.

This is nothing new mind you. The coalition Government in 2013 announced The Green Deal. That deal was in theory to have been a help for the builders, energy saving and home improvement industry, as the Government hoped many would take up environmentally friendly improvements to save energy (and ultimately greenhouse gases). Yet by the time it was brought to an end two years later only 14,000 households had applied, costing the taxpayer £238m (or £17,000 per household). That doesn’t sound good value to me – yet who am I to comment?

Anyway, let’s not be negative, as improving our homes makes sense – after all, research shows Brits have the draughtiest homes in Europe. A recent survey suggests UK homes “leak” heat up to three times more quickly than more energy-efficient homes on the continent.

Data from 80,000 smart thermostats across the EU were reviewed to measure how quickly a home at 20°C inside cooled once the heating was turned off (when the outside temperature was 0°C). Within 5 hours, the average British home dropped by 3°C, the French came in second at 2.5°C yet the Germans came in at just 1°C, meaning British homes clearly need more heating (i.e. greenhouse gases) to keep them warmer.

The chancellor has allotted £2bn to the scheme, which pays for two thirds of the cost of the upgrade and stated that more than 650,000 homes would be upgraded. This could save those households a total of £195m a year in heating bills (or the equivalent of £300 a year per household), cutting greenhouse gases and saving jobs in the construction industry. The grant can be applied for from September and is open to Blackpool homeowners and private sector Blackpool landlords. Applications must be made before March 2021 and the Treasury have stated about half of the fund would go to households with the lowest incomes (how low is still to be announced), with an enhanced grant of up to £10,000, saving them up to £600 per annum each on their heating bills.

Slide2The average Blackpool home annually produces 4.536 tonnes of CO2, compared to the national average of 4.101 tonnes

Due to the particular individual nature of the properties in Blackpool and their construction type, with suitable improvements in insulation, double glazing and draught proofing, Government statistics state that this could be reduced to 2.538.

Why is this important? Well UK householders spend £34.735bn a year on their electric and gas bills – this is a lot of money. In fact, looking specifically at Blackpool properties …

Blackpool householders spend £513.17 per year on heating their homes (compared to the national average of £669.34 per year)

Yet, if Blackpool householders carried out the energy improvements that ‘The Green Homes Grant’ suggests their energy bills for heating alone would reduce to £554.71 per year … quite a saving over a decade and beyond (enough to buy a decent holiday – whatever one of those is!).

So, with Blackpool homeowners and Blackpool landlords being able to spend the grant on loft, floor and wall insulation, low carbon gas boilers, heat pumps, double or even triple-glazed windows, energy-efficient doors and low energy lighting … everyone should win – the environment, the economy and household budgets. More details on the scheme should be released by the Government in August

 

Blackpool Home Buyers & Landlords Set to Save £542,510 in Stamp Duty Over Next Nine Month

The British are infatuated with owning their own property and politicians know that. Margaret Thatcher used it as a vote winner in 1979 when she allowed council house tenants to buy their own home. Coming to the present day, Boris Johnson’s Conservative government have anxieties that the Brits have not been buying nearly enough homes lately and, as with all countries in the world, the British property market was put ‘on ice’ for several months to help contain the Coronavirus, exacerbating the problem.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced on Wednesday plans to boost the property market by momentarily scrapping Stamp Duty Tax (a tax paid by homebuyers) when they buy a property that costs less than £500,000.

Interestingly, Stamp Duty was originally introduced in 1694 as a way to raise funds for The Nine Years’ War (1688–1697) against Louis XIV of France and applied to property and some legal documents.

Why is this important? Well the Government recognise that when the property market is working well, the economy also tends to work well, yet one of the barriers to people moving home is Stamp Duty. Even before Coronavirus, Brits were moving 40.21% less than they were at the start of the millennium, and now with this dreadful situation, the natural reaction is for people to stay put in their own homes, meaning another potential nail in the coffin for the economy.

Stamp Duty has raised not an insignificant £166.53bn since 1998, impressive when you consider the NHS costs £129bn per annum. Looking at more recent figures, the Government currently raise £1.045bn per month from Stamp Duty Tax and this statement will remove a good chunk of that from the Chancellors coffers each month, yet the Government knows a healthy property market will help the wider economy.

As Stamp Duty is a transaction tax, it restricts labour market mobility, making people who are thinking of switching jobs think twice before moving. Stamp Duty also holds back elderly homeowners from downsizing to smaller homes, which is an issue for the UK, as we don’t have enough homes to meet supply and also curtails first time buyers as it forces them to use some of the savings on the tax, as opposed to using for a deposit.

Before the changes, the Stamp Duty thresholds were as follows:

  • Zero percent up to £125,000
  • Two percent of the next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000)
  • Five percent of the next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000)
  • Ten percent of the next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)
  • 12% of the remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

and between the 8th July 2020 and 31st March 2021

  • Zero percent up to £500,000
  • Five percent of the next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000)
  • Ten percent of the next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)
  • 12% of the remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

Landlords and buy to let landlords will also benefit from these reduced rates yet will still have to pay their additional premium for second homes (as they have since April 2016).

To give you an idea how significant this is, if these rules had been in place exactly a year ago for Blackpool properties purchased under £500,000 (i.e. between the 8th July 2019 and 31st March 2020).

Stamp Duty would not have been paid on 499 Blackpool properties, worth in total £89,680,800

Anyone buying any home in Blackpool over £500,000 are also winners in this, as they will save having to pay the first £15,000 in stamp duty (under the old scheme). This is because during these 9 months, stamp duty is only paid on the difference over £500,000 (so if you buy a property for say £620,000 – one only pays the stamp duty on the difference between £620,000 and £500,000 i.e. £120,000).

I’m all for reducing Stamp Duty, which is imposed progressively at higher rates the higher a property costs (as you can see from the tables above). Yet, short-lived changes to property taxation risk warping the property market and generating a ‘property market hangover’ in Spring 2021. I am part of a group of 2,500 estate and letting agents from the UK, and most of us were running at 150% speed before this announcement, coping with the post Coronavirus explosion in demand.

Now it seems that the ‘feast’ will continue until the end of March 2021 as many more people will move to take advantage of the cut in tax. However, some are suggesting this could lead to ‘famine’ down the line as it will stop people moving into the late spring and summer of 2021.

History tells us different stories on the influence on transaction volumes from changing Stamp Duty rates. In 1991 the Tory’s raised the Stamp Duty threshold at which house buyers started paying and Gordon Brown did so in 2008 when we went into the Credit Crunch. More recently, both George Osborne and Philip Hammond fine-tuned Stamp Duty so that landlords had to pay an additional Stamp Duty Premium after March 2016 whilst first-time buyers pay less Stamp Duty and the purchasers of more expensive homes (over £1.5m) pay more.

The Stamp Duty changes for landlords in 2016 affected the property market only for a short while and by the autumn, transactions levels had returned to normal. However, in 1991, John Major’s Stamp Duty change encouraged home buyers to bring forward home purchases but nevertheless the property market ground to a standstill again once the benefit ended (although the steps up the 1990’s Stamp Duty levels were much harsher as the tax applied to the whole purchase price, not the margin steps as it had in the 1990’s)

So how much money will Blackpool people save when buying a home under £500k?

The average Stamp Duty paid by those Blackpool home buyers in the 9 months between the 8th July 2019 and 31st March 2020 was £1,087

Being objective, I can see why the Chancellor could see this as a suitable way to motivate spending because when people move home, they are more inclined to spend comprehensively on property renovations and the services of solicitors, home removal people, tradesmen and estate agents. So, drastically reducing Stamp Duty will undoubtedly help the UK economy, or at least contain some of the damage from the Coronavirus.

Also, the experience of being in lockdown will have confirmed to many Blackpool people that they need a bigger home or one with a bigger garden. I also suspect other people may be able to work from home on a more long-lasting basis, meaning there could be a shift from the larger cities to outlying towns and even a move to the countryside.

So, these are my thoughts, what are yours? I have weekly slots to discuss property, they are free and I would love to have a chat, follow link below to book:

https://calendly.com/hamza-anwar/15min

Checkout Martin and Co on Facebook :

https://www.facebook.com/macfyldecoast/

The Thornton-Cleveleys Post Lockdown Property Market

 

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From talking to most of the Thornton-Cleveleys estate and letting agents and our own findings, it might surprise many of you that new enquiries from homebuyers, tenants, landlords and home sellers have been at record levels since lockdown was lifted from the property market in mid-May.

There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, we had the pent-up demand for Thornton-Cleveleys property from the Boris Bounce in January and February. Next, many Thornton-Cleveleys people were planning to move this spring yet were prevented doing so because of lockdown, and finally, surprisingly, an advance wave of home movers seeking to bring their Thornton-Cleveleys moving plans forward because of a fear of a second Covid-19 wave later in the year.

So, what does all that look like and how does it compare to the last 12/18 months?

Data from Yomdel, the live chat and telephone answering service for a quarter of UK estate and letting agents, is able to track objective and more current information from across the UK on what is really happening. Each week, they are dealing with thousands of enquiries including:

  • Seller enquiries (e. house sellers looking to put their property on the market)
  • Buyer enquiries (e. people looking to view a property on the market with the intention of buying it)
  • Landlords enquiries (e. landlords looking for tenants for their rental property)
  • Tenant enquiries (e. people looking to view a property on the market with the intention of renting it)

 They have created a rolling weekly average of those enquiries for the whole of the UK for the 62 weeks before the country went into lockdown. Then they compared that 62 week average with specific time frames, namely the 10 weeks of the run up to the General Election, the 8 weeks of Post Boris Bounce in January and February 2020, the weeks of lockdown in March, April and early May and then finally, from mid-May, the post lockdown.

You might ask why tracking estate and letting agency enquiries is so important?

Enquiries in letting and estate agencies are the beating heart of the property market – they are the ECG machine of the estate and letting agency. Of course, house price data has its place and is lauded by the national press as the bellwether of the property market, yet it takes 6 to 9 months for the effects of what is happening today to show in those house price indexes, whilst these enquiries are what is happening now.

Have a look at the data in the graph and table, it can be seen in the 8 weeks up to the General Election, every metric was down. Next, the post Boris Bounce saw house seller and house buyer leads increase yet note how low tenant enquiries were (hardly any change from the run up to the election), everything dipped during lockdown as expected, yet look at all the metrics post lockdown … amazing! (e.g. if a number in the graph/table below is say -25%, that means its 25% below the rolling 62 week average, yet if it were +20%, then that would mean it would be 20% more than the rolling 62 week average)

 

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The numbers speak for themselves!

So, what is happening in the Thornton-Cleveleys property market? Well, there is plenty of activity in the Thornton-Cleveleys property market, yet that doesn’t mean everything is back to normal. Enquiries are an important metric, yet another way to judge the health of the property market is to look at the number of property transactions (i.e. people moving).

Now the Land Registry data isn’t quite as exhilarating, yet it is less volatile. Nationally, it shows that property transactions were at their lowest level since its records began in April 2005. The seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential property transactions in April and May 2020 was 90,210, 53.4% lower than the 193,500 transactions of April and May 2019. Again though, this was because of the restrictions on moving during Covid-19. The stats for Thornton-Cleveleys are still to be released, yet rest assured I will share them in due course.

Looking again at what is happening now, when I look at the number of properties for sale…

101 Thornton-Cleveleys properties have come onto the property market in the last 14 days alone, and of those, 12 are already sold subject to contract

So, what of the future of the post-lockdown Thornton-Cleveleys housing market? While a stern recession seems almost guaranteed, a housing market crash is not. Many newspapers are predicting property values to fall in 2020, then rise reticently from the ashes in 2021. The fact is, nobody knows. The property market is driven a lot by sentiment. Buying a home is not like buying stocks and shares – it’s a home to live in … and those Thornton-Cleveleys landlords who are looking for an investment opportunity, often let their heart rule the head (again sentiment) when investing in property.

Property always has, and always will be, a long-term investment. Many of you Thornton-Cleveleys people reading this, especially potential Thornton-Cleveleys first time buyers, have been putting off buying your first home because of Brexit, now its Covid-19, and in a few years, it will be something else. There will always be ‘something else’… and you could get to your 50’s and 60’s, still renting, waiting for the ‘next thing’ to pass before you buy … and end up buying nothing.

Nobody knows what the months or years ahead will bring … yet what I do know is, people will always need a place to live. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Tell us what your experiences are as a Thornton-Cleveleys landlord or homeowner, tenant or buyer so we can all learn from each other.

Is This the Beginning of the End for Buy to Let in Blackpool?

…. and should Blackpool landlords & Blackpool homeowners be worried?

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In 2019, the private rented sector accounted for just over four and a half million households or 19.9% of UK households, no change from the year before. Interesting, when compared to the proportion of private rented households in the 1980’s and 1990’s, when the proportion of private rented households was stable at around 9.5% to 10.8%.

Most of that growth in the private rented sector came in three main spurts. The first growth spurt was between 1999 and 2003 and that was caused when property values were increasing at 20% per annum, the second came from the migration of 1.69m people from the EU8 countries after 2004 and the final growth spurt came about because of the property crash of 2008/9. When I look at the local stats …

13.2% of Blackpool properties in 1991 were privately rented, whilst the most recent stats, stand at 25.9%

Apart from social housing, the other pillar of home tenure is owner occupation. Owner occupation is made up of two separate groups: outright owners and those who own their home yet are buying the property with a mortgage.

In 1991, 33.2% of Blackpool households owned their property outright and 42.6% of Blackpool households were buying with a mortgage, whilst current stats show 30.5% of Blackpool households are outright owners and only 31.6% are buying their Blackpool home with a mortgage

Looking at these numbers, two things are clear-

  1. Nationally, the increase in the proportion and number of outright owners has risen due to the baby-boomer population retiring and being able to pay off their mortgages (thus going into outright homeownership). Blackpool, however, bucks this trend.
  2. Overall homeownership is down. These figures will be of no surprise to many readers with heightened barriers to home ownership, as saving for the deposit became the prevailing hurdle to getting on the housing ladder together with a substantial increase in the amount of private rented accommodation, provided by an ostensibly ever-growing cohort of buy-to-let investors.

So, on the face of it, everything looks rosy for Blackpool buy to let landlords with the private rented sector growing ever upwards.

This is not the case though because these stats on private rented and homeownership on Blackpool are from the last census. However, the Government have a number of in-depth annual surveys on the property market and since 2016, the proportion of privately rented properties has remained stagnant at between 19% and 20%. Also, over the same time frame, the proportion of homebuyers with a mortgage has increased quite considerably from 30.7% of all households nationally to 35.5% last year. This increase is mainly attributed to an increase in first time buyers.

So, why have we seen an increase in the number of first time buyers?

Firstly, the government introduced their Help to Buy Scheme in 2013 helping first time buyers get on the property ladder with interest free loans and mortgage guarantees. Secondly, the wide availability of 95% mortgages since the mid 2010’s (meaning first time buyers only need to find a 5% deposit), and finally the continued increasing reliance of deposits from the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ have helped to support this growth.

Interestingly, age is an important factor in these stats, as it’s the 25 to 35-year olds that have seen the biggest increase in home ownership, yet it’s decreased for those in the 35 to 45-year old bracket.

So, what does all this mean for Blackpool landlords and Blackpool homeowners?

In the next six months, I believe the growth in first time buyer numbers will ease slightly. The pent-up demand of the Boris Bounce in January and February has now been released, and whilst the early signs are very good, we are still to see the effects of the curtailing of the furlough scheme on the people’s ability to move home.

Many doom-mongers were predicting the banks would remove 95% mortgages after Covid-19, yet looking on a well-known comparison website, at the time of writing, there were 183 ‘95% mortgages’ available to first time buyers, with eye watering low rates of 1.53% with the Halifax on a 2 year fixed rate and 5 year fixed rate with the Skipton at 1.83%. The Bank of Mum and Dad might be a tougher nut to crack for first time buyers’ deposits – the fall in the FTSE and the repercussions this will have on older households’ pensions income may restrict its availability.

This means even though the Blackpool property market is doing reasonably well, Blackpool homeowners wanting to sell shouldn’t get carried away and ‘over-egg’ their asking prices. The information available today at all buyers’ fingertips means your property can so easily be overlooked as being overpriced and thus become ignored.

My advice to Blackpool landlords is, even though the proportion of private rented properties isn’t growing, in real numbers it is, as we created 230,000 residential homes in the country last year alone, so we aren’t seeing a mass exodus out of private renting.

Yet, now might be the time to consider spending money on upgrading what you already own instead of buying another property. Depending on the type and location of your Blackpool rental property, the return on investment of certain upgrades can be in the order of 20% to 30% per annum. Don’t fall for the trap many Blackpool landlords fall into and upgrade without speaking to a property professional. I am looking to improve my portfolio and also looking at my next investment in a ‘nicer’ area of the Fylde Coast, with higher property prices, but where I can attract much better quality tenants and also benefit from capital growth in the long term.

Whether you are a client or not, I am always here at the end of the phone to give you my advice and opinion. If you haven’t already, Book in a one to one review with myself yet, Director at Martin and Co and local Landlord:

https://calendly.com/hamza-anwar/15min

 

 

Letting Market Update

It brings me to advise it is not all gloom and doom as the negative media reports tend to suggest. Our team across the Lancaster and Fylde Coast areas remained busy since the Lockdown and having phenomenal success with the introduction of video and virtual tours.

The local rental market experienced a strong spike in demand following the go-ahead for agents to reopen and we are experiencing what we have ‘coined’ the ‘tenant rush’, lock down has led to several reasons why peoples needs for a home has changed, hence demand for alternative properties. In general, we have seen a huge surge in 3 bedroom family homes (historically the highest demand properties in the area we operate in). Supply of such properties remain slow and we are finding new buy to let instructions in such properties remains slow, concluding that new investment from Buy to Let landlords remains low. Rightmove reported in May 2020, rental demand was up a massive 22% compared to the year prior. Reasons why I think demand for rental property has soared:

  • Property market unlocked – people were adhering to lockdown and restrictions on movement mean that many tenants have had to postpone their searches and with letting agents able to operate since mid-May, it would have led to a surge in demand that had bottled up
  • Relationship breakdowns
  • Job losses or other change in circumstances due to lock down
  • Working from home – lead to tenants looking for change in surroundings and better suited properties
  • Attitude to rental – peoples attitude to rental property has changed, potential first time buyers have become tenants over this period and are happy to do so, they are understanding that in time of uncertainty the last thing they want to do is commit to the biggest purchases of their lives and will appreciate the flexibility a rental property provides

Landlord News Highlight:

Evictions postponed until tenant eviction ban – introduced to protect tenants, was due to end 25 of June, has now been extended until the 23rd of August 2020. This does not mean tenants don’t need to pay rent until then. The things you as a Landlord should be doing:

  • Diarising receipt of rent on due date – ensure that your tenants are paying rent on time, if not get in touch straightway and understand your tenants situation. In worst case scenario, if the tenant has lost their job, remember they will qualify for housing benefit/universal credit support which will cover all or most of there rent payments. In the first instance, the rent will be paid direct to tenant, if rent isn’t passed on to yourself, there is a process for you as the Landlord to request direct payment of this benefit paid to the tenant for their housing costs
  • Current arrears – be having constant communication, having a payment plan in place and ensuring that it is being adhered to. If agreeing to postpone payments, ensuring only being done so with agreed terms to collect remaining rent.
  • New Tenants, right Tenants–  we always push on the importance of Vetting, however more than ever in uncertain times, affordability of rent from your potential tenants is even more important. Review their source of income, speak to previous Landlord of track record of paying rent, credit check your prospective tenants, do they have a history of keeping up with commitments? With our managed clients, we are pushing Rent Guarantee products on each new lets, as we will face an uncertain world post the end of Furlough payments and when we start to see the Corona situation unfold

Article on this top below?

https://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2020/6/eviction-ban-extended-for-another-two-months?source=mostcommented

Tip of the week:

Insulation grants – are you utilising this funding?

Cavity insulation and loft insulations, which there has been funding available for a while still has funding. Great way to improve your EPC rating (also get a FREE EPC which will mean you don’t need to arrange one for a further 10 years) and keep your tenants happier with warmer homes.

Also funding available for free boiler installations, yes FREE! If your rental property, currently has electric heating and regardless if it has a gas supply or not (however your tenant in receipt of qualifying housing benefit), then yes you will qualify for a FREE boiler insulation. We are working with a few local companies and happy to put you in touch, if you have a property that may qualify. If you have a property that may qualify for this funding, ensure you are taking benefit of it, you will be able to add value to your property and your Tenant also.

Buy to let investment of the weeks

Central Drive, Blackpool – High yielding investment, two flats, does require renovating, perfect for someone looking to get their teeth stuck into a project and create some equity in their investment.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2602020510063854

Arnold Avenue, South Shore, Blackpool – Renovation project, good area, great professional family demand and capital growth opportunity

https://blackpoolpropertyblog.com/2020/06/07/buy-to-let-investment-of-the-week-arnold-avenue-blackpool/?fbclid=IwAR01YuClAJgsmEDM9cOJL-x4Y0Qfa46ShwforSlN9AqNGV72x4lywKTgNFY

 

To book in an advice meeting with myself, please see my availability below:

https://calendly.com/hamza-anwar/15min

 

Are Buy to Let Landlords to Blame for Blackpool’s Housing Crisis?

Isn’t it funny that nobody boasts they are a buy to let landlord anymore? Roll the clock back to the early millennium and you couldn’t go to the local golf club or shop at a Waitrose without someone dropping buy to let into the conversation as easily and as often as the weather.

Yet now, Blackpool buy to let landlords have almost pariah status, as they place a brown paper bag over their head when they enter a letting agency, lest they be recognised as such. They can easily be recognised though, as the average age of a UK tenant in a property is 32 years old, whilst the average age of a UK landlord is between 40 and 61 years old.

Joking aside, if it wasn’t for buy to let landlords – Blackpool and the UK would be in a rather difficult position when it comes to housing our local people. Many people believe that if you take buy to let landlords out of the loop of the UK property network, then it would be the land of milk and honey for first-time buyers priced out of the market. Those Blackpool landlords provide those Blackpool tenants with a mixture of homes to live in and using market forces, ensure the right number of Blackpool homes are available. In fact, the stats show that…

Blackpool buy to let landlords provide 17,401 Blackpool homes for 36,498 Blackpool tenants

Yet the retort from many tenant organisations would be that Blackpool landlords are wealthy middle-class people, voraciously exploiting the failing Blackpool property market for their profit and greed. Of course, the demographic of an average Blackpool landlord is they tend to come from more fortunate backgrounds, with 3 in 4 of Blackpool landlords aged between their late 40’s to late 60’s and 4 in 10 having a degree level qualification.

It also wouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that those who invest in a buy to let Blackpool property are likely to be better off than those who have not yet been able to buy a home. Yet, that is the nature of the country we live in and it’s a consequence of a competitive free market economy (the alternative didn’t go to well in the Soviet bloc). Indeed, asserting that the buy to let landlords represent a transfer of wealth and money from tenants to landlords is like saying that the pub represents a transfer of wealth from drinkers to the pub landlord.

Don’t get me wrong, the tax loopholes for landlords up until 3 or 4 years ago were a little ‘too’ generous, still these were closed by the Tory’s themselves. However, should the Government try to place even more burden on landlords like some are suggesting, forcing them to sell, I am certain some Blackpool first time buyers would find it cheaper to buy their first Blackpool home. This is because they wouldn’t be in competition with Blackpool landlords to buy the starter homes both types of buyers crave, meaning house prices would drop (simple economics would dictate that).

Yet, if the supply of Blackpool privately rented homes contracted at a greater rate (because landlords were selling up) than demand, this would make renting more expensive (again simple economics) for the vast majority of Blackpool tenants who were still renting a Blackpool home. Irrespective of whether property values dropped, it might take years for a tenant to save for a deposit, whilst the rental properties the landlords wants to sell, the tenants only need to be given two months’ notice to leave so the property can be put on the market.

One might ask why don’t the local authorities build more council houses?

Well, Government funding has been tight because of the credit crunch deficit since 2009 and going forward because of the current situation with Covid-19, it will get even worse. In fact, of the 617,230 new homes built in the country over the last 4 years, only 8,270 or 1.33% were built by local authorities, meaning only just over 1 in 100 of all new properties built in the last 4 years were built by the local authorities.

This is important as the number of people in rented property has been growing over the last 20 years. In fact, when you look at all the tenants in council and private rented accommodation locally…

34.3% of Blackpool people live in a rented property

Interestingly, the demographic of a council house tenant is totally different to that of a tenant in a private rented home. The average age of a council house tenant is 52 years old (compared to 32 years for a private rented tenant), so it appears the older generation have the upper hand on council houses. So again, who exactly is going to house the people of Blackpool, especially the younger generation that can’t afford to buy?

Local authorities haven’t got the money, Housing associations get their money from central Government, so the only other source of housing is private landlords. The problem existed before private landlords filled the gap. No doubt many Blackpool landlords have certainly gained from the problem, especially between 2000 and 2007, yet at the same time, they have helped home millions of people.

Consequently, are Blackpool landlords greedy and selfish?  For most law abiding Blackpool landlords, who look after their tenants and their properties really well, nothing could be further from the truth… and yes they have made some money – yet if you take into account property maintenance, mortgage finance, taxation, agent fees, surveys and inspections – it’s really not the gold mine many think it is.

Not until all the political parties stop using the housing issue as a political football will this issue be sorted. For example, it makes sense to allow mass building in the South East, again driving up supply and making property more affordable, yet that would wind up the Tory voting home county heartlands. It’s a shame because we do have the room to build more homes, in fact…

Only 1.2% of the country has houses built on it

The country needs a massive root and branch change to sort things out, yet I have grave misgivings that any politician has the stomach or the political resolve to do anything about it.

If Covid-19 does affect the confidence in the property market, that will be in fact good news for Blackpool landlords, as long as the Government doesn’t put its big ‘size 9’s into the rental market by taking even more money out landlord’s pockets.

Historically, ambiguity in the property market typically results in an expansion in activity in the private rental market. Prospective home movers will rent in between selling their home and buying the next one, while budding first time buyers typically postpone their purchase and stay in the private rental market for marginally longer … which all increases demand for rental property.

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