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Wages rising by 8.3% pa – how will this affect the Crediton property market?

As they struggle to meet demand, Argos have had to increase the wages of their HGV drivers from £11.41 an hour to £15 an hour – a rise of 31.2% meaning their pay goes from £27k to £35k. Care home providers are offering signing-on bonuses of many thousands of pounds to entice nursing staff away from their competitors, and new homes contractors say labour costs are growing as the housing boom pushes up demand for bricklayers and joiners. Restaurant chains, coffee shops, blue-collar workers in factories and warehouses are seeing wages rise at an extraordinary rate.

The average wage for a worker in Crediton in full-time employment is £530.30 per week (before tax).

We can all argue over the reasons behind it; some suggest the ‘B’ word (ending in ..xit), whilst others put it down to the pandemic and some the demographic changes of UK population.

So, before I look at what it could do to the Crediton property market, let me look at why wages are rising. You will note all the above inflation wage increases are in blue-collar industries.

(Blue-collar workers refers to any worker who engages in physical or manual labour, such as building, hospitality, maintenance etc., whilst white-collar workers are those classed in the professions and service industries).

What are the reasons for these wage increases?

  1. In the past, the demand for inexpensive ‘blue-collar’ labour has been fed by a steady supply of Eastern European workers since 2004. Yet with the ‘B’ word, that has now ended.
  • Also, even in late July, the furlough scheme has kept 1.9 million Britons from their jobs.
  • Fewer ‘Generation Z’ (those in their late teens to mid 20’s) who normally would work in the hospitality industry are not working at the same rate they used to, when compared to before the pandemic.
  • And finally, fewer ‘Baby Boomers’ (those born before 1965) are working since the end of the first lockdown.

How could these wage increases affect the Crediton property market?

White-collar wages, since the turn of the millennium have risen in real terms yet blue-collar wages have remained stagnant (although they started to pick up slowly just before the pandemic).

So, if all blue-collar workers are now seeing a substantial increase in their real wages since the pandemic what will this mean, especially for the Crediton property market? It would mean the following …

  1. Continued reduction in unemployment
  2. Growth in consumer spending
  3. Rents will continue to rise in the short term
  4. Rise in homeownership in the medium term

Starting with unemployment:

640 Mid Devon people have come off the dole queue in the last 12 months alone, reducing the unemployment rate by 1.5% to the current 3.4% in our local authority area.

If wages continue to grow for everyone, that means unemployment will continue to reduce.

Secondly, these pay rises will start to burn holes in people pockets. We should assume those people with the extra cash will spend it. In fact, it is a recognised trait in economics that blue-collar workers tend to spend a lot more of any increase in disposable income (when compared to white-collar workers). This would give a boost to the retail, hospitality, leisure and travel industries very quickly.

Crediton rents are already 11.5% higher than 12 months ago,

and if wages continue to grow, then rents will increase even further. This is because rents in the private sector tend to rise in line with wages rather than with property prices.

This is excellent news for Crediton buy-to-let landlords.

Next, if wages for blue-collar workers continue to grow, I believe we will finally see a long-term growth in home ownership again. In 2008, 68% of people owned their own home, yet that had been slowly reducing over the 2010s to 63% in 2018. Yet since 2018, this has increased slightly to 65%.  

The Brits who had the biggest problem jumping on to the property ladder were not just the 20 somethings, but also middle-aged blue-collar workers. With blue-collar wages stagnant over the last two decades, and accelerating house prices, it was much tougher for them to save up a deposit for a mortgage.

Yet with the recent Government backed 5% deposit mortgages and more disposable income (because of the wage rises), some might decide not to spend the extra on going out and holidays and buy their first home instead (because most people want to own the place where they live – if they can afford it, they will buy).

Overall, if this increase in blue-collar wages is across the board, then this could be one of the greatest things to happen to the Crediton property market in a long time.

It is certainly long overdue. Since the millennium, wages at the bottom end of the pay scale (i.e. blue-collar workers) have deteriorated, while the professional white-collar middle classes have done much better. The disparities between both classes/workers are both imbalanced and harmful to the economy and society as a whole.

But what is the real story behind the headlines?

One school of thought is that some fear these wage increases will fuel hyperinflation (and in turn, interest rates will have to rise to counter that).

As I have mentioned many times in my articles on the Crediton property market, the last thing we need is a rise in interest rates (as mortgage rates will increase accordingly). A rise in interest rates will put a massive brake on the Crediton property market – which is not good for anyone.

Also, we have to remember a few things …

there are still 1.9m people on furlough (which stops at the end of September).

Not all of those people will go back to their original jobs, meaning they will need to find a new job, so the pay pressures could just as easily diminish as employment bottlenecks clear.

Also, the 8.3% wage increase is based on a year-on-year figure (i.e. a snapshot of now versus a year ago) and therefore the headline figures have been profoundly distorted by the large numbers of blue-collar workers on furlough in 2020 (i.e. they were on 80% pay). The Office for National Statistics have gone on record saying that, accounting for some of the distortions caused by the pandemic, real wages for blue-collar workers are more likely 3.5% up.

Finally, as with all things, the devil is in the detail. The newspaper headlines reporting the over inflated pay rises this spring are true. However, in truth (of course we all know bad news sells newspapers) these wage rises were focused on professions with specialist skills. For example, whilst wages for HGV lorry drivers have risen by double digits, pay rates for courier drivers have remained stagnant. At the same time, wage growth for white-collar jobs is almost at zero for yet another year.

To conclude, there are interesting times ahead for everyone involved in the Crediton property market. I do not profess to know all the answers, however, I do have my own opinions. Whether you are a Crediton first-time buyer, second-time buyer, homeowner, landlord or tenant and would like to pick my brains on any aspect to do with the Crediton property market, please do not hesitate to drop me a DM, give me a call or send me an email.

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Crediton Buy-to-Let Market on the Rise as Returns Rise by 35.2% in 5 Years

Crediton landlords are becoming progressively more self-assured about expanding their rental portfolios; as Crediton rents rise, mortgage interest rates fall and demand for decent Crediton rental properties outstrips supply.

A number of reports nationally would suggest around a third of UK ‘portfolio’ landlords (i.e. landlords with more than one rental property) are actively looking to expand their rental portfolios in the next 12 to 18 months, that would locally mean …

81 Crediton ‘portfolio’ landlords are looking to add to their rental portfolio by the end of 2022.

The pandemic has had a substantial change to what we want from a home. Many people think that relates just to homeowners, yet nothing could be further from the truth as it also applies to tenants.

Homeowner or tenant, many of us have spent a lot of time away from places of work. Many office workers face the outlook of the combination of working from home as well as at the office, meaning a change in what people look for in their home. People (including tenants) are looking for larger properties, with extra rooms for office space and decent sized gardens or to be closer to outside green space.

So, let’s look at the ‘scores on the doors’ as to why Crediton landlords are on the up …

Crediton house prices are 17.5% higher than 5 years ago.

Because some Crediton first-time buyers are being priced out of the market due to these house price rises, they are being forced back into the rental market. Add the extra demand of the 1 in 10 Crediton house sellers who, in the last 12 months, have had to go into rented accommodation instead of buying, and this has created increased demand, meaning …

Rents today in Crediton are 11.5% higher than a year ago and 17.7% higher than 5 years ago. The average rent of a Crediton property today is £700 pcm.

In previous articles on the Crediton property market, I was talking about the lack of properties to buy – yet that issue is also there in the British rental property market. Now let’s look at the supply of rental properties.

Would it surprise you that the number of private rented homes in the UK has fallen in the last 12 months by just over 2.5%?

Why? One reason has been many ‘accidental’ landlords have used this housing market to sell their property for a good price. That means the supply of available rental properties has decreased. The perfect storm of increased demand and lower supply, and with many Crediton tenants competing for those larger Crediton homes, they may find Crediton rental prices pick up even more over the next year.

What about buy-to-let mortgages for Crediton landlords?

The banks all but withdrew from buy-to-let lending in the first lockdown. Yet, since last summer things have settled down and during 2021 there has been a mortgage price war.

Crediton landlords can borrow 60% of the value of their BTL property on a two-year fixed rate of 1.18% from Platform and even those with a 20% deposit (that’s borrowing 80%) can borrow that money at 2.49% 2-year fixed rate from The Mortgage Works. Those looking to fix for a little longer can get 1.44% from The Mortgage Works and 1.79% at 75% loan to value from Santander.

(It must be noted there are some fees to these mortgages, and you must take advice from a qualified mortgage advisor before deciding which mortgage is best for you).

So, is now the best time to invest in Crediton buy-to-let property?

If you are attracted to invest in Crediton buy-to-let, it’s vital to do your homework first – particularly if you are new to the game.

When estimating the expected rental returns on investment, capital growth and yields, many Crediton landlords look to what has happened with house prices and rental prices, yet past performance does not always deliver a future guaranteed return.

Smart Crediton landlords will speak with agents like myself and others in Crediton, prudently researching the Crediton property market to discover what types of properties are in high demand (and short supply) from tenants.

Whether you are a landlord of ours or not, please feel free to drop me a line via email or social media for no nonsense advice on the important matters to look out for before investing in Crediton buy-to-let.

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Why Are More Crediton OAP Homeowners Deciding Not to Move Home?

A recent report by Legal & General stated that since the pandemic, many older homeowners had put their plans to move home ‘on ice’. It said that fewer OAP homeowners are planning to downsize from their large family homes after the pandemic made them realise the actual value of their local community and space.

Historically, many OAPs move home to another part of the country to live near their grown-up children. Yet the pandemic has shown that OAPs can live quite well locally without moving to a strange new town to live near their children. The support networks of their friends in their existing community has emphasised the significance and importance of having friends close by.

Yet this trend isn’t just for OAPs moving away. Many Crediton OAPs who aren’t moving away from Crediton (because their family is still local) are also deciding to stay put longer for the same reasons. Even though they are rattling around their large 3 and 4 bed detached family homes, they love the space their large Crediton homes offer.

And for those Crediton OAPs who are wanting to move, the issue is that the choice of properties they could buy to downsize is limited. This scarcity of properties for sale, called the ‘housing crunch’, can be seen by that lack of choice of properties for OAPs to move to.

Only 11 bungalows are for sale within a 3-mile radius of Crediton

In a ‘normal’ Crediton property market, I would expect this to be double or even triple this number.

All these factors combined means these OAP “eternal homeowners” threaten to make the scarcity of properties coming on to the market even worse!

So, why is this an issue for everyone else?

Well, because Crediton OAPs aren’t moving from their large 3 and 4 bed detached homes to smaller bungalows or ground floor apartments, this is creating a blockage on the housing ladder. Crediton families, in their 30’s and 40’s, are desperate for larger 3 and 4 bed detached homes for their ever-expanding families. But if the OAP sellers of those family houses aren’t moving, they will remain overcrowded in their existing homes.

Let’s look at the numbers first.

  • There are 4.42m UK over-65 property owners, and their properties are worth a combined £1.53 trillion (which covers just under three-quarters of the national debt).
  • 71.3% of those aged 65 and over own their home (although 1 in 10 still has a mortgage).
  • There are 1,071 Crediton homes occupied by OAPs, representing 30.7% of all the households in Crediton (compared to the UK average of 31%).
  • 86.5% of those Crediton OAPs are retired, meaning the rest are still working! (The national average is 83.4%).
  • The total value of the property in Crediton owned by OAPs is £251.8m.
  • 69.2% of Crediton OAPs own their home outright (compared to the national average of 65.8%), and 4.9% of Crediton OAPs own their home, albeit with a mortgage (compared to the national average of 5.5%).

Many Crediton OAP homeowners simply love the house and neighbourhood they live in, often living in their homes for over 25+ years. I talk to many mature Crediton homeowners who say they are afraid to put their home on the market, because they believe (incorrectly) if they find a buyer for their home and can’t find another property to go to … they would be made homeless.

I can only share my opinions on the matter. The one thing I have seen in my years in the property market is that so many Crediton people leave it too late to move home. So, when they do move, they aren’t fit enough to do all the jobs in their new home. Indeed, is it better to move home in your late 60’s/early 70’s, meaning you can still do the little things to make your new house a home, rather than in your late 70’s/early 80’s and find the jobs are much harder to do?

Also, if you are worried about finding your next home, get yourself on the mailing lists of all the Crediton estate agents.  A recent study showed only 1 in 6 buyers were on an agent’s mailing list for the property they bought. Therefore, by being on the mailing list, you will get to know of any suitable properties coming on the market before most others. This is important in this housing market; a property is often sold STC before it hits Rightmove (to a buyer that put themselves on the agent’s mailing list).

By downsizing, you could use the additional funds to top up your pension, take the family on a holiday of a lifetime (once it’s safe to do so of course), or help your children get on the housing ladder themselves with a deposit for their own home.

I fully appreciate many of the 794 OAP homeowners in Crediton have many reasons to stay, be that sentimental, friendship, support networks etc. My advice to all of you is to do your homework, put yourselves on the mailing lists of agents (in case the property of your dreams comes up) and do what is best for you. By downsizing, you are giving yourself better options for your quality of life and massive opportunities to spend more time on the things you enjoy like your family, holidays, or even helping others.

The choice, as they say, is yours.

If you are a Crediton homeowner and want to ask me anything about what I have said, please drop me a line to discuss the matter further at no cost or obligation.

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Crediton Homes Asking Prices Down 3%

With Rightmove announcing a national drop of 0.3% in average asking prices in August, some are asking if the steam has been let out of the property market. Yet with the gains we have seen in the last 12 months, is this just a minor bump in the road? Alarm bells normally ring when new homeowners coming to the market for the first time are having to lower their initial asking price when compared to the market as a whole. 

So, what is actually happening in the national and local property market to asking prices and the number of properties for sale, and where does that leave Crediton homeowners and Crediton landlords?

1 in 7.4 homes already on the market today have reduced their asking price in the last two weeks

That means new sellers bringing their property to the market for the first time, are having to curtail their initial asking price to remain competitive. Normally, this should ring alarm bells, particularly when this is the first time this has happened in 2021. Therefore, it’s vital to ‘look under the bonnet’ of the figures and see what, exactly, is happening locally.

Average asking prices for Crediton homes are 3% down compared to July

However, that figure hides some interesting anomalies – the average asking price of Crediton detached houses is 19% lower than in July (that doesn’t mean they have dropped in value by that much – just the headline asking prices) whilst flats/apartments have only seen the average asking price drop by 4% in the last month.

So, if this is what is happening to Crediton asking prices, what about the number of properties for sale. Looking nationally first…

there are currently just 285,970 properties for sale in the UK, which means 1 in 67 British homeowners are presently on the market – interesting when compared to 2005, it was 1 in 13.5 homeowners on the market.

With such little supply of properties for sale nationally, demand remains robust. Yet the property buyers in the market are being a little more reserved with the offers they are making compared to the Stamp Duty holiday frenzy times seen earlier in the year. They will pay handsomely, and yet top dollar won’t offer the ‘crazy price’ levels some Crediton buyers were offering in the spring – hence the recent reduction in asking prices to a more realistic level.

Looking at the movement in the available properties for sale and to rent in Crediton over the last few months, an interesting picture arises.

Number of Crediton Properties on the Market
Apr-21May-21Jun-21Jul-21Aug-21
Crediton Properties for Sale6256634948
Crediton Rental Properties Available03243

The number of Crediton properties for sale (and rent) is still at record lows when compared to the 30-year long term average.

The choice for Crediton tenants is limited as well, as many tenants aren’t moving home. With the additional increase in demand from 1 in 10 Crediton homeowners choosing to go into rented accommodation (albeit temporarily) Crediton landlords with exceptional properties are getting decent rents, as discussed in a recent article I wrote about the level of rents in Crediton.

With the current level of Crediton properties for sale being around 40% to 50% below the long-term average (depending on the type of Crediton property you own), it means when a Crediton property is properly priced, given the intense competition, often it comes down to the position of the buyer and not the price they are prepared to pay.

When I say, “position of the buyer”, I mean, do they have a chain, do they have to sell their own property to buy another property?

Many Crediton house sellers are selling their home before they buy. Selling before you buy can be a fruitful approach in a fast-moving property market. That does mean your own purchaser will have to demonstrate a certain amount of patience whilst you wait for the right home to come on to the housing market. 

However, because it is currently taking on average 19 weeks between sale agreed and exchange of contracts, with mortgage providers and solicitors taking their time due to the backlog, this often allows you to potentially play catch-up if it takes a couple weeks to find the right property for you.

Many home sellers are going even further by selling their Crediton home first and then going into transitional rented accommodation. This subsequently puts them in pole position when their forever home comes up for sale as they have no chain. Although this takes a lot of determination and resilience, it does mean you will be in the very best position when the property of your dreams comes up.

The choice they say, as always, is yours!

If you would like a chat about the Crediton property market and the best thing for you and your personal circumstances, do drop me a line. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the current Crediton property market? Do share in the comments.

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Crediton Homeowners Have Turned to the Rental Market to Cash In By £11,100 Each

Should you sell or should you buy in this most interesting Crediton property market?

I have calculated that at least 25 Crediton house sellers have rented a home to break their house chain in the last 12 months, although at a cost as they face paying many thousands of pounds in rent. 

There are a number of reasons behind this. One is because they cannot find another Crediton property to buy amidst a continuing shortage of new Crediton properties coming to the market. Although, there are others who have achieved such a high price for their home they have decided to cash in and are (hopefully for them) waiting for the Crediton property market drop?

Or will it drop? (More on that later).

Those selling their home have seen the… average Crediton home rise in value in the last 12 months by £11,100.

Yet, if they have had to go into private renting, they have paid for that privilege in the rent they have had to pay.

The average cost of a six-month rental agreement in Crediton is £3,972, meaning accidental Crediton tenants have pumped £99,294 into the Crediton rental market in the last 12 months.

The unevenness between the number of properties for sale and demand for them is at its widest since the early 2000’s. Whilst we have seen a slight improvement in the number of properties for sale in Crediton, there are still…

45% fewer homes up for sale today in Crediton, compared to August last year.

This serious shortage of Crediton property for sale is discouraging some hesitant Crediton homeowners from putting their property on to the housing market, anxious they will not be able to find their next home and will be left renting.

Yet some savvy Crediton homeowners are moving into a rented property as a way to navigate the shortage of properties to buy. If you have someone offering you top dollar for your Crediton home, whilst you will have the hassle of two moves, the increase in value of your Crediton home will more than offset the rent. 

Also, when you come to buy your next Crediton home, you will be chain free and in pole position to buy your ‘forever home’, rather than being overlooked for the home because you are sold stc and burdened with a chain.

Yet this trend has made life tougher for long-term Crediton tenants.

On average there were normally 6 to 10 properties available to rent in Crediton on Rightmove at any one time (pre-pandemic), today there are only 3 available.

To give you an idea of how this has affected the Crediton rental market, with heightened demand and lower supply, demand for rental properties has grown to such an extent…the average rent in Crediton has grown from £662 per month a year ago to £750 per month today.

Tenants are suffering from less choice and higher rents in the Crediton property rental market, with few indications it’s going to significantly ease on the run up to Christmas.

So, what is going to happen to the Crediton property market? 

Well, those of you that follow me know I regularly write about the Crediton property market in my property blog. If you would like some recent articles I have written about the future of the local property, either drop me a line and I will send you some links to those posts, send me a DM or contact me by telephone.

In the meantime, please do share your thoughts on the matter in the comments.

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Only 1 in 15 Crediton Properties are Bungalows, Despite an Ageing Population. Why?

The bungalow is a building that has represented a more leisurely, gentler way of life since the early 1900’s. Bungalows have been sold as an aspiration for those about to retire, saving them the annoyance of having to climb stairs. With an ageing population, one would think they would be building more bungalows, yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this could be one of the main issues that is holding back many mature homeowners moving home, thus creating a bottleneck in the Crediton property market for the younger families who are being held back and unable to move into the larger homes they so need to grow their families.

So, before I answer that question, let me share this fascinating fact about bungalows. The word ‘bungalow’ originated in India, not the UK. The name is derived from the Hindi word ‘baṅglā’ or the Gujarati word ‘baṅglo’, both of which seem to refer to a home occupied by a Bengali person. The colonial English started to use it for themselves in the late 1600s to describe the same sort of basic lodgings that sailors and staff of the invading East India Company used.

Anyway, back to the here and now in Crediton.

There are 239 Bungalows in Crediton. When you consider there are 3,489 properties in Crediton, that means only 6.86% of property in Crediton are bungalows.

To give you an idea of the age demographic of Crediton homeowners, there are 1,248 Crediton homeowners aged 65 years old (and over) and 1,225 Crediton homeowners aged between 50 and 64 years of age.

You can see demand for bungalows is only expected to grow.  Yet new homes builders are having to deal with soaring land prices meaning to get a profit from the site, they are under pressure to build more vertically than horizontally as with bungalows (as bungalows take up so much more land).

The last available data is from 2018 and only 1.6% new builds in the UK were bungalows, interesting when it was just over 7% in the middle of the 1990s. As British people are living longer, those existing Crediton bungalow homeowners will be living in them longer, thus creating even more of a bottleneck in the Crediton property market.

So, what is the answer?

Well with building land in Crediton at a shortage, maybe new homes builders should be forced under planning rules to reserve ground floor apartments to be set aside for older people to encourage them to move out of larger houses. I would challenge the long-held point of view that building more bungalows in Crediton is the pre-eminent way to urge growing numbers of mature ‘last-time buyers’ to move out of their under-occupied Crediton homes and free up their large homes (where their children have flown the nest) for younger Crediton families to grow.

With the new Planning Regulations due to be in place in a couple of years, local authorities could require builders to set aside a share of homes for mature residents, as they are already obligated to subsidise local community facilities or low-cost social housing in return for obtaining their planning permission to build in the first place.

Another option would be to convert all those empty shops in our town and city centres up and down the country into residential use. There is no need for planning permission to change offices to residential property and the Government are considering the same for shops (although I have heard of some horror stories of those office to residential developments making rabbit hutches look spacious) – so again, it comes down to the planning laws and making them fit for purpose.

There are no doubt consequences of not designing our housing stock for the 21st Century and beyond for older people.

The population of Crediton is set to grow by 1,463 to 9,162 by 2040.

As the UK population gets older in the coming decades, as life expectancy is set to grow from 81 years 2 months to 83 years 3 months by 2040, I fully appreciate the need for more Crediton homes to be built for families, yet one must ask if the planning authorities are focusing too much on new housing for the younger generation, when they in fact should be encouraging new homes builders to develop larger, ground floor two-bedroom homes and decent accessible transport links.

These are my thoughts, what are yours the good people of Crediton?

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Crediton’s Love (and Hate) Affair with the Semi-Detached House

The semi-detached house – the icon of middle-class aspiration, the pinnacle of liberalism yet at the same time compromised individuality, the ‘semi’ as it is colloquially termed is, for many Crediton homeowners, the highpoint of modern domestic bliss.

Britain’s gift to architecture is the humble ‘Semi-Detached House’. This type of property has been exported around the world with – the ‘Doppel Haus’ in Germany, the ‘Duplex’ in the USA, Canada and Australia. 

For those young, hip and trendy people living in your converted warehouses with strobe lighting and exposed brickwork, it might surprise you the semi is the dream home of an immense number of Crediton people. In fact, it is the most common dwelling type in the British Isles, with 8,060,657 semi-detached homes occupied by Brits alone (representing 31.68% of all occupied property) compared to 23.81% detached, 25.49% terraced and 19.02% flats.

In Crediton alone, there are 982 semi-detached houses meaning…

29% of properties in Crediton are semi-detached.

So, when did the semi-detached house first come into play? Many people think the semi-detached boom started with mass swathes of the suburban mock Tudor bay-fronted semis being built between the first and second world wars. The fact is actually that rich landowners in the post Great Plague (1665+) years wished to house their farm labourers as inexpensively as possible, yet making their grand estates look as imposing as possible.

And that’s the point of a semi-detached house. Only half the property is yours, yet you ‘feel’ like you own it all.

The next phase of the semi-detached story, and a phase that really pushed home the point, were many of the late Georgian houses built around the Kensington Gardens area in West London. Many upper-middle class Georgians were wanting something more than the classic Georgian terraced house yet couldn’t afford a large detached home. Therefore, architects took the humble semi-detached house to the next stage of its evolution by masquerading the building itself as one home by slipping its two front doors down opposite sides of the building, making it look like one home from the front, to complete the impression of total ownership.

By Victorian times, semi-detached houses fell out fashion as the railways were building many of them for their railway workers and they became associated with the lower working classes, but speculative builders continued building semi-detached homes for the new lower middle class, that is the reason why ultimately the country is full of semi-detached homes today.

The semi-detached house was saved from the annals of history by the Bedford Park development in Ealing (London). Referred to as the world’s first ‘garden suburb’ and started in the 1870’s, the architect of Bedford Park used influences of the Aesthetic Movement, the precursor to the Arts and Craft Movement to make the buildings look more pleasing on the eye. The architect also took reference from the style of properties from British history such as Queen Ann to be seen in such features as a sweep of steps leading to a carved stone door, rows of painted sash windows in boxes set flush with the brickwork and bright coloured brickwork with limestone stone quoins emphasising the building’s corner.

As the car enabled people to commute to work from further away, people wanted to get out of the big cities, thus giving rise to the interwar semi, with its mock Tudor fronted, rosemary tiled roof, oak beamed, herringbone brickwork and the leaded and stained glass windowpanes that we all recognise. It was Bedford Park that gave the green light for architects up and down the country to use old styles of building design to make their semi-detached houses look the part.

And now, in more modern times, the semi-detached house has gone from strength to strength.

527 of Crediton semi-detached houses have changed hands since 1995, many upwards of 5 times (and a handful even more).

The semi continues to appeal, both to big national builders and smaller Crediton developers, and most importantly to home buyers. The advantage of semi-detached houses over town houses/terraced houses or apartments is they afford access to their (typically bigger) gardens without having to pass through the house, and they have natural sunlight on three sides of the property, are easily extendable and quite often have a driveway.

And that’s at the heart of what a semi-detached house is all about, the schism or divide of the semi reveals the tension at the heart of owning your home, which on one side of the coin is a commodity/way to make money and on the other side, a vision to have your own castle, a piece of ground to call your own. It articulates both the craving for personal freedom and the inevitability of socio-economic life. What do I mean by that?

We may dream of owning a castle in many acres, with a drawbridge and moat, yet in real life we can only afford half a building plot sliced out by a volume national builder next to the A377.

I just love a semi-detached house! Style and substance combined.

What are your thoughts? Share your stories and opinions on the humble semi-detached house.

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£556,546 – ‘Wood’ You Pay That For a Crediton Semi-Detached House?

The value of an average Crediton semi-detached house has increased in value by £24,940 in the last 12 months, an increase in value of 9.5%.

Yet the costs of building a Crediton home have shot up even more in the last 12 months, meaning the price of Crediton new homes and any building works you do to your Crediton home in the coming months and years could be a lot higher.

The British house building profession is experiencing a building materials supply problem. Everything from cement to bricks, timber and roof tiles, plastic guttering, copper wire and pipe to insulation, even kitchen sinks have become scarce – and when people can find them, they are costly.

For example, looking at the timber industry, three-quarters of the UK’s building timber comes from abroad, so lockdowns around Europe put a restraint on the timber processing industries of Sweden, Lithuania and Latvia throughout 2020. In addition, building material supply chains were interrupted due to the application lockdowns imposed by their Governments, resulting in many sawmills in those countries restricting shift work to comply with their country’s social distancing rules. Some mills even stopped all work for eight weeks last year, meaning they were incapable of cutting, milling or treating timber, causing their existing stocks of building wood to run dry. 

Yet, whilst we were all in lockdown, everyone started doing DIY projects, so the public demand for building timber in the UK remained high, giving little opportunity for UK sawmills (let alone North-eastern Europe) to catch up and restock to the levels previously held before the pandemic.

Building timber costs 112% more than a year ago, steel RSJ’s are a lot more expensive because iron ore has gone up 120.1% whilst aluminium is up 56.8%, and copper is up 59.7%.

All the blame cannot be laid at the feet of the virus and lockdown. The ‘B’ word caused issues with supply at the start of the year. Building materials are a worldwide supply chain issue; this spring’s Suez boat crisis, when many boats were diverted around Africa (as the length of time the blockage was going to last was unknown), exacerbated the problem. All this has combined to make the cost of sending a 40ft container from China to Tilbury Docks £7,576 today, compared to £1,195 just before the crisis. Also, supplies of sand and cement are particularly low with massive demand from the large £98bn High Speed (HS2) rail project. All this combined is affecting many building projects, big and small, across the UK.

If an average Crediton semi-detached house had risen by the price of building timber in the last 12 months, today it would be worth £556,546, not the current £287,462.

RSJ (steel joists) take twenty weeks to arrive, compared with the typical five weeks, whilst plasterboard is being rationed with weeks of delays for the ‘good stuff’ and MDF wood, usually takes seven days to arrive; now it takes over a month. Roof battens need to be ordered a month in advance, whilst pre-lockdown they were commonly held in stock by every building merchant.

Demand for building materials has increased so quickly because many British homeowners are driving the explosion. Those people in safe jobs with little opportunity to spend money on foreign holidays and fancy restaurants decided to invest in their property and gardens. According to the Bank of England, this craving for home improvement has particularly exploded since the mature generation have started to be double jabbed (their savings accounts having increased by £180bn during the pandemic).

As I have explained in previous articles, these increases in the price of raw materials will fuel inflation, possibly affecting interest rates upward. An increase in interest rates will make a material difference to the value of Crediton property. To what extent? Please read my previous articles on the Crediton property market.

Please do share your stories of issues with builders and building materials over the last 15 months in the comments. I appreciate any stories you can provide to help others in Crediton.

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Is Crediton Heading Towards a House Price Crash?

Crediton house prices rose by 5.0% last month, according to the Land Registry.

This means the annual rate of house price growth in Crediton has increased to 12.6%.

Looking at the national figures, many people were concerned the UK property market was overheating as spring saw annual growth of 9.9%, the highest rate of house price growth documented since June 2007 (when national house prices were rising by 10.8% p.a.). It was only a matter of a few months later the Credit Crunch hit, and the average value of a UK home plummeted from £190,032 to £154,452 in 18 months, a drop of 18.7%.

Government economic measures such as the Furlough Scheme and the Stamp Duty Holiday have so far shielded the Crediton property market from the worst economic recession since 1709.

So, the question is, can this growth in Crediton house prices continue, or is this the start of a house price crash?

One thing is for sure, looking at the number of For Sale boards going up and turning to sold just as quick, shows this market is not maintainable for the long term. Most of the Crediton people looking to move home have brought forward their home-moves from 2022/3 to this year because of the Stamp Duty Holiday and the lifestyle choice of wanting a bigger garden/office space at home.

Nonetheless, the doom-mongers in the press say there will be a second wave of house sellers that will flood the Crediton property market in the autumn and winter when furlough ends. They believe many of the 3.4m people still on furlough will be made redundant when furlough finishes at the end of September 2021 forcing them to move home.

This was the catalyst for the house price slump in 2008/9 mentioned above, when many Crediton homeowners dumped their homes onto the Crediton housing market.

After all, many Crediton homeowners lost their jobs and had mortgages paying 6% to 7% in interest payments.

However, the devil is always in the detail. The industry groups with the highest take-up rates of furlough are the hospitality (public houses) sector, where 70% of staff are furloughed. 65% of hotel staff are furloughed, and 44% people in the creative arts and entertainment industry are furloughed. Most employees in these sectors are in their 20’s and early 30’s and are tenants, not homeowners. This is going to be more of an issue for landlords than homeowners.

And of those furloughed homeowners who do unfortunately get made redundant later in the year, looking at the last four most recent house price crashes, buyers were wrestling with significant declines in mortgage affordability. For example, back in 1988, average mortgage rates were 13.9% before that crash and in 2007 (the Credit Crunch crash) 6.5%. Whilst today, they are under 2%, meaning the mortgages are a lot more affordable, and most Crediton homeowners who get made redundant will be able to ride out the storm better.

But surely, if Crediton house prices are rising, won’t Crediton homes become unaffordable?

Well, with low-interest rates, this means Crediton homes are still relatively affordable. In 1989, the house price to earnings ratio was 5.4 to 1 (i.e. the average house was 5.4 times the average UK salary), whilst today that stands at 8.8 to 1. It’s no wonder some people are concerned there will be a house price crash (as there was in 2008 when that ratio hit 7.5 to 1).

However, it doesn’t matter what the house price to earnings ratio is …. it is what percentage of your income is required to pay your mortgage.

In 1989, 74.6% of your income was required to service an 80% loan to value mortgage on an average UK home (i.e. you borrowed 80% of the value of your house on a mortgage). In the 1990s that percentage dropped yet rose steadily over the next decade and a half, so by the time we got to 2008, that was an equally eye-watering figure of 61.6% of your income to service an 80% mortgage.

Today, it’s only 35.9% of your income to service an 80% mortgage because of low interest rates.

So, if the issue is not the affordability of houses, what is the problem for Crediton homeowners?

Interest rates!

Bank of England interest rates will affect what people pay on their mortgage (higher interest rates normally mean higher mortgage payments). Interest rates are used to reduce inflation, so if inflation rises, interest rates also rise to bring inflation back under control.

UK inflation has just gone through the 2% barrier, and I believe by the end of this year or early next, it will touch 4% or 5%. In normal circumstances, this would trigger the Government (or now the Bank of England) to raise interest rates. Yet, we had a similar scenario in the late 1980s/early 1990s with a spike in inflation to 8.5% due to a shortage of raw materials and labour, but this was soon sorted out, and inflation dropped quite quickly thereafter.

In the coming year, a shortage of raw materials might be an issue. If there is a shortage of raw materials (supply problems are being found in key items such as timber, concrete, aggregates and steel), this will fuel construction and manufacturing costs upwards.

Next, will there be a shortage of labour? Some say it won’t be an issue (as unemployment will be higher), yet there are certain sectors of the economy that have an imbalance of trained staff of specialised jobs or people not wanting work in that type of job in the first place.

For example, many hospitality and dining establishments are reporting a shortage of staff because they were often filled with hard-working European migrants. I have read reports of London restaurants advertising for chefs and waiting staff, who would have received 1000+ enquiries for such jobs pre-pandemic to only be receiving applications that could be counted on two hands this summer. The hospitality and dining sector was hit harder than most, having to stop trading during the three lockdowns and working under firm restrictions. This led to the majority of staff being placed on furlough (as mentioned above, 7 in 10 are still on furlough), which has prompted some to ride out the pandemic in their own country.  

The question is – will they return? If not, to entice them back restaurants will have to increase the wages they pay to attract the staff, which in turn will mean they will have to put their prices up (i.e. inflation). If businesses have to put their wages up and the cost of raw materials continues to rise, prices for everything will rise, and at this point, higher interest rates will kick in.

But how will increased interest rates affect the Crediton property market?

Thankfully, 91% of all new mortgages being written are fixed interest rate mortgages and 78% of all existing UK mortgages are fixed-rate (compared to 32.8% in the credit crunch) … meaning we won’t have so many houses being dumped on the housing market like we did in the Credit Crunch, because on a fixed rate mortgage if interest rates rise – mortgages don’t follow suit.

And that’s the key … unemployment combined with high-interest rates caused many Crediton homeowners to put their property on to the market in 2008/9. Tied in with curtailed demand for property, because it was really difficult to get a mortgage (that’s why it was called the Credit Crunch) … we had an oversupply and subdued demand of Crediton homes – causing house prices to drop by 16% to 19% depending on what type of property you owned.

So, a good bellwether and indicator on what will (or will not) happen to Crediton property prices is the number of properties for sale at any one time.

There are only 49 properties available to buy in Crediton today, low when compared to the 14-year average of 97 properties for sale in the town, whilst at the height of the Credit Crunch, there were 213 properties for sale at one point in Crediton.

As we look to the future, if you want a crystal ball of what will happen to the Crediton property market … you won’t go that far wrong by getting yourself on the property portals and seeing how many properties are for sale.

These are my thoughts … what are yours?

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Crediton Buy-to-Let Landlords Owed £127,515 in Unpaid Rent Rogues or Saviours?

There is no getting away from the fact that the rise in the number of buy-to-let properties in Crediton has been nothing short of astonishing over the last twenty years. As a result, many in the press have said Britain is a broken nation, with many twenty and thirty-somethings unable to buy their first home. The press has named this group ‘Generation Rent.’

Crediton landlords have been accused of scooping up all the smaller Crediton properties for their buy-to-let property empires. Others blamed the Government (of both persuasions) for pouring petrol on the buy-to-let fire for giving landlords an unfair advantage with the way buy-to-let has been taxed in the past. Many have said these landlords have priced out Crediton’s ‘Generation Rent’. Many say they are rogues, and you can see why there is little sympathy for landlords, especially as…

Crediton landlords receive £6,923,904 a year in rent – easy money or what?

So, as we come out of lockdown, I want to make a stand for Crediton landlords and talk about the great work they have been doing during the pandemic.

Since lockdown, it has been (almost) illegal to evict a tenant from private rented property. Yet, in the last few weeks, this ‘ban on evictions’ has begun to be eased, making some commentators forecast a ‘tsunami of homelessness’ as landlords ready themselves to kick out the tenants who cannot pay their rent.

You might say they can afford it, yet I need to highlight an often-untold story in the massive numbers of Crediton landlords who have co-operated with their Crediton tenants to evade eviction.

The personal finances of some Crediton landlords and tenants have been ruthlessly strained during the last 16 months — something that is going to have ramifications on the back pockets of both landlords and tenants, as well as the attraction of being a buy-to-let landlord (more of that later).

55 Crediton tenants are in arrears with their rent to the tune of £127,515.

That’s money these landlords need to pay their mortgages with and even to live off themselves.

The eviction ban was imposed in March 2020 and the Government has expected private landlords to stand the cost of their tenant’s rent if they could no longer pay. It was estimated over 1 in 5 landlords with mortgages had requested a mortgage payment holiday in 2020. Thankfully, that now stands at 1 in 100 as most Crediton landlords with shortfalls in rent have been using their own personal savings to cover the mortgage payments.

I have seen so many landlords giving their Crediton tenants rent breaks and discounts to help them through these times. However, most landlords I talk to acknowledge that it is better to have a tenant paying something rather than a tenant paying nothing, hoping that total rent will start flowing as the economy recovers.

Going into the pandemic, 1 in 25 Crediton tenants were in arrears, yet that now stands at 1 in 11.

So, are we going to see lots of evictions? I would go as far as to rebuff the idea that we will see a rush to the courts of landlords to obtain possession orders now the eviction ban has been lifted. I have always viewed evictions as a last resort.  

Before the pandemic, it took about 12 months for courts to hear rental repossession cases, so this backlog will be nearer two years (if not more). Nonetheless, the threat of a County Court Judgement (CCJ) often makes tenants pay up as it will demolish their credit rating, making it very challenging for them to rent another home.

I feel for those Crediton tenants under furlough or reduced hours as they have the quandary of wanting to reduce their outgoings by moving to a cheaper rental property, yet whose rental deposits will be sacrificed to cover their rent arrears. However, some have said that because house prices have exploded during the last 16 months, Crediton landlords should write off their tenants’ arrears as a goodwill gesture.

The issue is, 97 Crediton landlords only have a single property for rent, so the arrears would have to be funded by their personal savings.

For them, the pandemic experience could be the incentive to sell up for good.

A National Residential Landlords Association survey found around a third of all landlords were now more likely to sell their buy-to-let properties altogether or sell some of them. This would mean fewer properties for tenants to rent, thus driving up the rent.

According to government and industry data, evidence suggests that a tenant who rents a property directly through a landlord and not through a letting agent is between two and three times more likely to go into arrears of 2 months or more. Is this because tenants know that private landlords who advertise directly for tenants on Gumtree and other platforms don’t carry out the checks letting agents do on them?

Many of those landlords are switching the management of their property to an agent, and for those landlords sticking with self-management of their property, there is circumstantial evidence they are starting to become a lot pickier when starting new tenancies. Even though illegal, spurning tenants on benefits is woefully all too common. I also worry there could be a stigma about renting properties to self-employed people because of the erratic nature of their income.

Looking into the future, I envisage a growth in the use of ‘rent guarantor contracts’, whereby the tenant is called upon to provide a 3rd party person to pay the rent if the tenant doesn’t. These are pretty common for student lets and those on certain benefits, and it wouldn’t surprise me if these are used more often for self-employed tenants and regular professional lets.

That is why I believe Crediton landlords should be celebrated … most of them have been saviours. These are my thoughts – what are yours?