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According to the media, Crediton house prices ought to be falling – here are the reasons they are not

Looking at the newspapers with their doom and gloom headlines, you would think that the Crediton property market (and the British property market) would be on its knees.

Yet ring an estate agent for a viewing or free valuation, and if you can get an appointment within a week you are doing well!

British properties continue to sell in good numbers.

In July and August 2022, sales have been agreed on an average of 25,476 UK properties per week.

Interesting when compared to the averages of 27,351 sales agreed per week in 2021 and 26,382 sales agreed per week, year to date in 2022.

So why is the Crediton property market defying all expectations?

It is because there is an absolute shortage of properties to buy on the books of Crediton estate agents, meaning Crediton house prices are being kept buoyant (as demand exceeds supply).

Today, there are 29 properties available to buy in Crediton. Roll the clock back to October 2007, the month before the last house price crash, and it was 109.

That’s 73% fewer properties to buy today in Crediton than the month before the property crash.

Notwithstanding suggestions that the Bank of England’s higher interest rates would peter out British house price growth, the continued limited supply of properties coming onto the market has helped Crediton house prices climb.

Crediton house prices are 13.7% higher today than a year ago.

Nevertheless, there is evidence that the insane demand for property has started to ease, and supply is increasing, which means that the direction of the Crediton housing market will begin to change in the coming months.

This can be seen in several ways.

Back in January and February (2022), 8,094 UK properties per week were reducing their asking prices, whilst this July and August that had risen to an average of 13,115 UK properties per week. This is significant as some ‘optimistic’ homeowners who placed their properties on the market in the spring and early summer have had to reduce their ‘optimistic’ asking prices to attract buyers.

Also, the number of UK house sales falling through (i.e., when the sale is agreed yet the sale falls through before the legal paperwork is completed) is starting to creep upwards from an average of 5,558 properties a week in the spring of 2022 to 6,854 per week in July and August 2022.

Crediton house prices have risen over recent times; the latest figures are based on what was selling in the late winter/early spring of this year and subsequently completing the sale in the early summer.

The prices obtained by the estate agents on properties achieving a sale in Crediton today (i.e., in the autumn of 2022) are slightly lower than what was obtained nine months ago. This means the house statistics published in early spring 2023 will slightly reduce. Nothing to worry about – I want to give you a heads up and not to be concerned. The simple fact is…

We are returning to a more normal Crediton housing market this Autumn, compared to the crazy last 30 months since the end of lockdown one.

With UK inflation standing at 9.9%, this brings an interesting scenario for Crediton property values.

Reducing ‘real’ wages will hit first-time buyers and existing homeowners’ disposable income, while the same high inflation will make the Bank of England increase interest rates.

These things will significantly reduce homebuyers’ capacity to afford their mortgages as the fewer people who can take out a mortgage the fewer people will buy homes.

Today, the Bank of England raised it’s base rate half a percent to 2.25%, with forecasts suggesting it could end the year between 2.75% and 3%. Yet let us not forget the long-term average over the last 50 years has been between 7.1% and 7.2%, and many mature Crediton homeowners will remember Bank of England Base Rates of 17% in 1979, so these sorts of increases are still off a low base.

During these autumn months though, the lack of properties on the market and available to buy still support Crediton house prices. The newspapers compete for attention and use clickbait titles to generate more interest in the publications.

The simple fact is that unless something seismically happens in the world to change things materially, the Crediton and British property markets will continue to harden slowly and will face some different challenges compared to the last 30 months, but fundamentally Crediton house prices will remain broadly neutral over the next 12 to 18 months.

These are my thoughts – what are yours? Comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

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What’s the Difference Between a Flat and an Apartment?

“An apartment is over £100 grand and a flat under £100k!”, said my friend.

Joking aside, there is no difference, call it what you will, the humble apartment/flat has served Crediton well over the years. The average sale price of an apartment in the town in 2021 was £154,020, making it an excellent first-time buyer purchase and buy-to-let investment.

In this article, I want to look at the apartment/flat in Crediton and how it could solve the county’s housing crisis.

The word ‘Apartment’ derives from the French word ‘Appartement’, which comes from the Italian form of the word, ‘Appartamento’. The core of that Italian word ‘appartare’ means ‘to separate’, as in ‘separate a building’.

The word comes from Roman times when housing costs were so expensive within the city walls in Rome. Savvy property owners split (or separated) their houses into what we know as apartments or flats today.

The word flat is derived from the Old Scottish/Old English word ‘flet’. The flet is the interior of the home. Some also think the phrase stuck as most flats are on one floor, and so by definition, the accommodation is on the flat (i.e. no stairs inside).

The country has an enduring housing shortage. Not enough homes are being built, and even though the Government is aspiring to build 300,000 new homes annually to match demand and keep costs of housing affordable, less than 250,000 were built in 2019, the best rate in the last decade.

And that is why some say the simple solution to Britain’s housing problem is building more apartments/flats.

The British population has been growing by more than half a million every year, for the last twenty years. Yet just over 175,000 homes have been built annually.
One solution is building more apartments – and on the face of it, the facts stack up as they are cheaper to heat, the views are often unique and they use less land.
To look at what we do as a country with our apartments, it’s important to look at Europe to see how they live so that we can compare the percentages of flats/apartments lived in:

  • Spain 66.1%
  • Switzerland 63.1%
  • Greece 59.2%
  • Germany 56.3%
  • Italy 53.1%
  • EU average 46.2%
  • Sweden 46.7%
  • France 34.0%
  • The United Kingdom 14.8%

Quite a stark difference, isn’t it! Now let’s look at Crediton itself.

Of the 3,589 households in Crediton, 20.3% of them (729) are apartments/flats

Even though only 1.2% of the country has residential property built on it (and an additional 3.5% are gardens), building houses is low-density land use. Is it sustainable in the long term to continue to build that way in Britain, a country with a similar population to France yet having less than half its landmass?
If we continue to build just over 5 in 6 new households as houses, surely sooner or later, the precious green belt around our towns and cities will have to go. And I know many of you will say use brownfield sites. Of course, there are brownfield sites, yet…

In the whole of the Mid Devon area, there are only 15 brownfield sites, totalling only 18.9 acres, which would only provide 267 houses – so not many!

The country needs a decent supply of homes for its growing and ageing population. Many of you will frown when it has been suggested, even if it’s for environmental reasons alone, most of these should be apartments/flats.

Don’t get me wrong, the love/hate relationship with the apartment/flat and the British is well-founded. Many apartments/flats in Britain are not suitable for happy family living. The high-rise ghetto council blocks built in the 1960s didn’t help with their poor communal areas, lack of maintenance and lifts that didn’t work.

Why do so many more Europeans live in apartments?

In mainland Europe, the apartments are larger. For example, in Germany, they are 974 sq ft; in Denmark, they are 1,452 sq. ft; in the UK, they are only 793 sq ft. Also, European apartment/flat owners have more storage areas, higher ceilings and better communal areas.

It is a vicious cycle. Poorly made small apartments make families side-step them, which makes new home builders construct apartments unsuitable for families, which means the situation worsens. This results in the British property market trying to expand our towns and cities outwards into the countryside with houses, rather than upwards into the sky.

I am not suggesting 20-storey high-rise tower blocks in Crediton for one second. Looking deeper into the information from Europe, most people live in low-rise three and four-storey purpose-built apartment blocks.

To begin with, these new apartments/flats need to be justly desirable for Crediton families and be seen as such by the local population. The building materials used, communal spaces, the building’s functionality, and design specifications must not only meet but exceed current building specs on houses, or planning permission should withhold.

Maybe the Government could incentivise builders to build apartments/flats instead of houses to improve the supply of quality apartments/flats with tax breaks?

Things will take decades to change, yet I thought it was appropriate to discuss the matter in such an environment as this.

These are my thoughts, what are yours?

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Crediton’s Millennials to Inherit £696,453 Each From Their Baby Boomer Parents

The total value of homes owned by Baby Boomers in Crediton alone is £443,165,800 – and two-thirds of the Crediton Millennials are set to inherit all that in the next few decades!

Could this be the answer to the housing crisis?

Could Crediton Millennials live it up for the next few decades, safe in the knowledge they will get a huge lump sum to pay off their debts and buy a house with what is left?

Before I look at that, which set of people in Crediton exactly are the Crediton Millennials or Crediton Baby Boomers?

Come to that, who are Generation Z, the Silent Generation or Generation X?

All these are phrases used for the different groups of people in their various life stages of our society.

So, splitting the groups down:

Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before (77 years old and above)

Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964 (58 years old to 76 years old)

Generation X: Born 1965 to 1980 (42 years old to 55 years old)

Millennials: Born 1981 to 1995 (27 years old to 41 years old)

Generation Z: Born after 1996 (everyone under 26 years old)

Using data from the Census, my research shows there are …

1,225 households in Crediton owned by Crediton Baby Boomers and they are worth a combined value of £443,165,800.

The generation that will inherit those Crediton properties will be the millennials.

There are 954 millennials in Crediton.

After looking at the local demographics, homeownership statistics and current life expectancy, around two-thirds of those Crediton Millennials have parents who own those 1,225 Crediton properties, meaning each is in line for an inheritance of £696,453.35.

Yet what about Crediton’s Silent Generation?

There are 1,248 homes in Crediton owned by the ‘Silent Generation’ and they are worth £451,486,464.

The issue for those who will inherit their parents’ homes is that there are far more Generation X people in Crediton than millennials.

Two thirds of the 1,397 Crediton Generation X will inherit £489,671.01 – still nothing to sniff at yet not as much as the millennials!

So, whilst the Crediton Millennials are less likely to own their own home compared to Generation X and so have done not as well in amassing their assets and savings, they are more likely to benefit from an inheritance boom in the years to come.

This is likely to be very comforting information for those Crediton Millennials, including some from humbler upbringings who historically would have been unlikely to receive an inheritance.

Nevertheless, inheritance is not the silver bullet that will get the millennials onto the Crediton housing ladder.

Nor will it deal with the increasing wealth inequalities in British society, as the inheritance they are likely to receive won’t be accessible when they are trying to buy their first Crediton home.

So before all you Crediton Millennials start running up your credit card bills, safe in the knowledge they will be paid for when your parents pass away in 20/30 years, over half of the females and around a third of men are going to have to pay for their nursing home fees.

Remarkably, I recently read 25% of people who must pay for their nursing home fees run out of money, and therefore have to rely on funding from the local authority

Therefore, if you are a Crediton Millennial, no inheritance will be left for you. It goes without saying, most Crediton parents want to give some inheritance to their children.  

Yet if waiting until you pass away to help your children or even grandchildren with your legacy could be seen as too late, so what are the options?

One solution to help and fix the housing crisis in Crediton (and the UK as a whole) is if parents and grandparents, where they can, help financially with the deposit for a house whilst their children/grandchildren are in, say, their 20’s and early 30’s.

Buying a Crediton property is much cheaper than renting – I have shown it many times in these articles.

It’s not a case of not being able to afford the mortgage; the problem is raising the mortgage deposit (of 5% to 10%) for these Crediton Millennials.

Maybe families should be discussing the distribution of family wealth whilst everyone is alive (in the form of helping the family with house deposits) as opposed to waiting until the end, as it will make a massive difference to everyone in the short and long run.

And a final thought, your legacy will have a more significant impact, and you will be here to see it with your own eyes.

A win-win for everyone.

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Crediton Property Prices Have Risen by 385% Since 1995

“Tell me what is happening to the Crediton property market”, asked the friend of a friend at a recent do I went to in Crediton (after finding out I was an agent in Crediton).

I always reply, “It depends if you are buying, selling or both”.

The Crediton property market is like a seesaw. For the last two years, it has been quite firmly in the realms of a 90% seller’s/10% buyer’s market.

However, unless you are a Crediton buy-to-let landlord, Crediton first-time buyer, or executors selling a deceased person’s estate, most home movers are both (i.e. they are both sellers and buyers).

So, what determines where we are on the seesaw of a seller’s market or a buyer’s market?

It comes down to simple supply and demand economics. i.e. the number of properties on the market versus the number of buyers in the market.

Like when someone sells goods or services, it’s the same with property. So, when we have a low supply of properties on the market and high demand for properties to move into (like we have had for the last two years since the end of lockdown one), house prices go up.

Crediton house prices are 17.6% higher than a year ago.

The other side of the coin was seen in the Credit Crunch years of 2008/9. Many people wanted to sell their houses in Crediton, yet the banks weren’t lending, so people couldn’t buy. This meant the supply of property on the market exceeded demand; hence Crediton house prices dropped by 16% to 19% in 18 months (depending on what type of property you were selling) as we had a 20% seller’s market / 80% buyer’s market.

Whilst demand and supply are the key driving force on the balance of the buyer/seller’s market seesaw, it is not the only influencer of the property market. The price band is also an essential determiner of house prices, albeit over the longer term.

To show this, initially, I will go back to 1995 to ascertain what has happened to average house prices over the long term in Crediton.

The average Crediton house price has risen from £65,433 in 1995 to £317,429 in 2021, a growth of 385.1%.

Interesting, when you compare that against the national figure of 407.2%. Also, looking at where our local authority stands against other areas, we are 192nd out of 331 local authorities in England & Wales for house price growth.

It’s called the property ladder for an excellent reason, and the health of the whole Crediton property market is very dependent on those bottom rungs of that ladder.

Therefore, looking at the data for our local authority, paying particular attention to the lower end (in terms of price), some intriguing data comes to light. It is crucial as the lower end of the property market (in terms of price) is a good bellwether for the whole Crediton property market.

So, I looked at the following …

  • Lower 10th Percentile of the Crediton housing market – i.e., the bottom 10% in terms of the value of properties sold – e.g., small apartments and ex-local authority properties in the less popular areas, which mainly attract buy-to-let landlords.
  • Lower Quartile of the Crediton housing market – i.e., the bottom 25% of Crediton property in terms of their value, e.g., first-time buyer homes and mid-market buy-to-let property.

… and if one looks at our figures for Crediton and the whole local authority, you can see the three parts (lowest 10% / lowest 25% and overall average) have performed quite differently.

  • The average value of a Crediton property sold in 1995 in the lower 10th percentile (i.e., the bottom 10% of the Crediton property market) was £31,500, and in 2021, it was £162,500, a growth of 415.9% (compared to the national average of 428.4%).
  • The average value of a Crediton property sold in 1995 in the lower quartile (i.e., the bottom 25% of the Crediton property market) was £41,000, and in 2021, it was £205,000, a growth of 400% (compared to the national average of 417.7%).

Some of you might be asking yourself, what do all these different figures mean to Crediton homeowners, first-time buyers and landlords? 

As the overall average is below the lower 10th percentile and lower quartile growth figures, the middle to upper market in Crediton has performed worse than the lower end in terms of house price growth since 1995.

The thought I am trying to get across to every Crediton homeowner/buy-to-let landlord is that there isn’t just ‘one’ Crediton property market.

There are markets within markets – almost like a fly’s eye. It is essential not to look at just the headlines but delve deeper when considering what is really happening and not to just look at the overall averages.

As we enter the height of the summer, the Crediton property market seesaw has started to change ever so slightly, changing from the 90% seller’s/10% buyer’s market we have had in the last two years to more of a 70% seller’s/30% buyer’s market.

With that in mind, if you can spot trends before anyone else is aware of them you could find yourself some potential Crediton property bargains.

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How to Attract Birds to your Garden

One of the beautiful things about Devon is the abundance of wildlife, including the songbirds that we have in our gardens. Schemes like #NoMowMay have helped in recent years to give our native birds a chance to thrive on the insects that untouched grass and meadowland supplies.

But it’s not just the birds, as part of Plantlife’s annual No Mow May campaign, research found that simple changes in mowing can result in enough nectar for ten times more bees and other pollinators. In fact, their study discovered over 200 species were found flowering on lawns in 2021 including rarities such as meadow saxifrage, knotted clover and eyebright. Don’t forget to log your own findings on their website.

Attracting birds to your garden is a delightful experience. You learn a lot and experience many new things about birds’ habitats and your environment.

In February this year more than 1,900 farmers and land managers took part in the 2022 GWCT (Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust) Big Farmland Bird Count. Over 420,000 individual birds were counted in the survey. An impressive 26 red-listed species were recorded, with seven among the 25 most frequently seen species. Of these, starlings, lapwings, fieldfares, and linnets were the four most abundant red-listed species to be spotted, with over 125,000 counted, which equates to 29% of all species recorded.

More than 63% saw robins, carrion crows and pheasants. The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starlings, lapwings, fieldfares and rooks, with a total of 204,398 spotted in total, which equates to 48% of all the birds counted.

So if you want to be someone that makes a difference, you need to attract the birds into your garden in the first place. Here are few tips to help get you started.

Grow native plants

A bird-friendly landscape offers different layers of plants for different birds to use. From tall trees to ground cover – you need a little of everything. You also need to grow different types of plants for different birds. When choosing plants, consider the season during which each plant is most valuable. Early flowering shrubs provide nectar during the spring, while trees and bushes give fruits in the late summer and fall. Therefore, think broad and grow that engage different birds round the year in your garden.

Make a little pond 

If you have the space then this will attract water-loving birds. Birds drink clean and fresh water from the pond especially on hot days. At the same time, they have a safe and accessible place to take a bath. If you have a small space, then they also love a bird bath – just ensure you keep it clean and refreshed.

Provide food

Supplementary feeding can ensure that your garden supports many different birds.

According to the RSPB during the summer months, birds require high protein foods, especially while they are moulting. These food include black sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mild grated cheese, mealworms, waxworms, mixes for insectivorous birds, good seed mixtures without loose peanuts. Avoid using peanuts, fat and bread at this time, since these can be harmful if adult birds feed them to their nestlings.       

Temporary food shortage can occur at almost any time of the year, and if this happens during the breeding season, extra food on your bird table can make a big difference to the survival of young. Birds time their breeding period to exploit the availability of natural foods: earthworms in the case of blackbirds and song thrushes, and caterpillars in the case of tits and chaffinches. It is now known that if the weather turns cold or wet during spring or summer, severe shortage of insect food can occur, and if the weather is exceptionally dry, earthworms will be unavailable to ground feeding birds because of the hard soil. In order to help with this, buggy nibbles and mealworms can be provided during these times to prevent starvation.

You can find more information on feeding the birds in this great guide from the RSPB.

Avoid Pesticides

Attracting birds to your garden also gives a huge responsibility to safeguard them. Many bird populations are endangered due to harmful pesticides. Avoid using anything that can prove dangerous for birds as they can mistakenly consume it – this includes slug pellets and leaving salted slugs where birds might pick them up and feed them to their young.

Stop your cat (and dog) from catching birds!

55 million birds are killed by cats each year! Cats are natural hunters and sadly they will hunt and kill wildlife for fun. Responsible cat owners can try to curb their natural instinct using a few simple tactics.

The RSPB have a number of suggestions and these include putting a bell on your cat’s collar. Feeders should be placed about 2m from dense vegetation, preventing surprise attacks from cats but giving birds easy access to cover. Place nest boxes where cats cannot get close, as they might prevent parent birds from getting to the box.

Help track birds

At this time of year you can assist the experts by logging the birds you see in your garden. For example, Swifts pair for life and meet up at the same nest site in the UK each spring – usually in gaps under roof tiles and in the eaves of buildings. But as more and more old buildings are demolished or renovated, many swifts are returning to discover their nest site is gone.

By telling the RSPB where you see nesting swifts you’ll help to build a picture of where swift nest sites need to be protected and where it would be best to provide new nest sites.

With fun accessible schemes such as Give Nature a Home and the Big Garden Birdwatch, the RSPB will continue to transform gardens across the country into mini nature reserves. Building a movement and weaving the UK’s landscape into a tapestry of connected wild spaces. You can be a part of it too – and don’t forget to share your sightings with us, we’d love to know if this blog has helped you transform the birdlife in your garden.

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What Was The Average Crediton House Price in 1952?

Well, what a weekend that was. Street parties, gatherings in the park, the purple bunting, egg and cress sandwiches, union jack flags, cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks, and let’s not forget the trifle – the Platinum Jubilee Party. And no decent party is worth its salt without a game or a quiz.

So, if you have post-Jubilee blues, let me ask you, how much was the average Crediton house worth in 1952?

To start with, let me look at what a property is worth today in Crediton.

The average price paid for a property in the Crediton area in the last 12 months was £302,900.

Now, let’s go back to 1952. Sir Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister, Newcastle won the FA Cup, London was covered in the Great Smog, free prescriptions on the NHS ended (it cost 1 shilling or 5p in new money), and King George IV, at the age of 56 passed away on the 6th February, meaning Princess Elizabeth became the Queen – as for housing …

The average price of a Crediton home in 1952 was £2,473.

This means Crediton house prices are 121 times higher since 1952.

Yet over the last 70 years, the country has been subjected to 4.5% per annum inflation.

The 1952 Crediton home is equivalent to £47,562 today when adjusted for inflation.

This means Crediton house prices have increased by 504.8% in real terms since 1952.

So, does that mean house prices are more expensive today compared to 1952?

In 1952, the average annual male wage was £452, 8 shillings and 1 pence, meaning the average Crediton house was 5.47 times the average value of a wage. Today the average home is 8.85 times the average wage.

Yet let us not forget the average mortgage payment in 1952 was £11 per month. The average Brit earned £34 per month, meaning 32.3% of the household income was going on mortgage payments, whilst nationally today, according to the Nationwide, it stands at 28%.

It’s cheaper, in real terms, to buy a property in 2022 than in 1952.

And that’s the point, something things in ‘real terms’ (real terms being true spending power of the money after taking into account wages, costs and inflation) were more expensive and some cheaper 70 years ago. For example, in 1952, petrol was equivalent (in today’s inflation-adjusted prices) to £1.02 per litre, a pint of beer £2, half a dozen eggs £2.20, cheddar cheese £2.40 per 500g, a basic radio £430, a Hoover £530 and a 12-inch TV £1,600.

So back to property, the Queen’s reign has seen some amazing house price rises in the UK, yet that growth hasn’t always been in a constant upward direction, as we have had a couple of dips along the way.

We had a house price crash in 1990, when the average value of a Crediton property dropped from £74,427 to £61,640 in 1996, only for them to start rising again.

Crediton saw another house price crash between 2008 and 2009, and the average house price dropped from £222,642 to £189,805 in a year.

So, what else has changed about property and housing since the Queen came onto the throne?

In 1952, only 32% of people owned their own home, whilst 50% of people rented from a private landlord and 18% rented a council house.

By the time of the Silver Jubilee in 1977, 56% of people owned their own home, with 12% of people privately renting and 32% rented from the council.

Come the Golden Jubilee in 2002, 70% of people owned their own home, with 11% of people privately renting and 19% rented from the council.

Today, 63% of people own their own home, 20% of people privately rent and 17% rent from the council.

So to conclude, as we look forward into the 21st century, I am sure the property market will be totally different again in 70 years.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and do share it with your friends if you find it interesting.

P.S. for all you Rightmove fans, the average Crediton terraced home in 1952 was worth £1,846, and a semi in Crediton could be bought for, on average, £2,145.

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8 Devon Gardens to Inspire this Spring

Devon is home to countless beautiful gardens and as estate agents we are very lucky to be able to visit new ones all the time.

As gardening season is upon us, we thought it would be good to list just a few local gardens open to visitors to enjoy. After all, it is the perfect time to start planning how you’ll make the most of the great outdoors.

From wildflower meadows to manicured lawns and everything in-between, these gardens  invite you to witness their displays and get inspiration for your own outdoor space.

Shobrooke Park Garden, Crediton

The 200 acre Shobrooke Park was laid out in the 1850s. The house was lost in a fire in 1946, but the grand garden remains with its Portland stone terracing and flowering shrubs under ancient oaks. All especially magnificent in the Spring.

Wandering through the oak woodland, on to the formal terracing and past the walled kitchen gardens to the American Grounds there are ever changing colours. See the way that clipped yew and laurel compliment the stonework. Enjoy the views out over Shobrooke Park with its cascade of ponds.

In May the spring flowers fade but the diversity of the shrubs continues in whites, blues, yellows and pinks. The scented azaleas in the American grounds are worth the walk.

In 2022 the gardens are open on Friday afternoons from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm on 6th & 20th May and on Saturdays mornings from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm on 7th & 21st May.

The garden is rough and steep in places so unfortunately not suitable for people with mobility problems or wheelchairs. Stout boots and walking sticks are sensible for your visit.

Downes Estate, Crediton

Downes is the family home of the Buller and Parker Family.  It is still lived in by the current generation of the family – Henry and Susan Parker and their children.

The attraction of Downes is the way it brings together aspects of the history of our country (particularly as the home of the famous General Buller) and the history of a family home, still privately occupied and loved by its owners, some 300 years after it was first built.  It is hoped that visitors will appreciate the opportunity to share this special place.

The house is open to the public for guided tours at 2.15pm daily during the following weeks and if you are joining a tour the gardens are open between 1.30pm – 4.30pm:

2nd May – 8th May, 30th May – 5th June, 29th August – 4th September

Sherwood House, Newton St Cyres

Sherwood Garden is a hidden treasure; traditional gardens surround a beautiful, turn of the century Arts and Crafts home set in a landscape of 23 acres. Explore two deep ancient oak wooded valleys, surrounded by pastureland and further forest. Acers, magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas and other woody plants are beautifully supported by banks of naturalised bulbs and wild flowers which thrive under careful low input management. Yew topiary surrounds the house and frames the more natural garden beyond.

If the weather is kind , there are plenty of benches and areas all over the garden for a picnic too – which means you can make a real day of it! Head to their Open Gardens with Tea and Cake in aid of Parkinsons UK on Saturday 28th May, near Crediton. There will be two sessions to view the gardens 11am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm. There are limited ticket sales for each to allow for parking restrictions.

Knighthayes Court National Trust

If you discovered ‘growing your own’ over lockdown (like millions of others) then look no further for inspiration than the nationally significant formal garden and working kitchen garden at Knightshayes.

This two-and-a-half-acre walled kitchen garden with fairytale turrets is home to a vast collection of crops which are now almost extinct – including 102 varieties of heritage tomatoes. The kitchen garden was finished in 1876, and was designed by Burges, at the same time as the house. The influence of Burges can be spotted from the turrets and the style of the walls, like a castle.

Sadly, the garden declined following the First World War, as most young men went off to fight, leaving a skeleton staff. By the Second World War, numbers had declined yet further, though the garden was still used to help produce supplies when the main house was used as a hospital during both world wars. Wider commercial availability of fruit and vegetables also meant the garden ceased to be cost effective, as more and more produce was brought into the estate. In the 1970’s, the garden had grown over and been abandoned due it becoming too expensive to run. The garden was put to bed for over 40 years and used as grazing and even an overflow carpark.

In 1999, a project was undertaken to restore the kitchen garden to its former glory and by 2003 it was fully productive again.

The lesson for us all is that it is never too late! So don’t be afraid to start growing fruit and veg no matter how tiny your plot. Plus, don’t forget that there are allotments around Crediton as well as the community allotment where you can get involved in growing without needing to own any land yourself.

Backswood Farm, Bickleigh, Tiverton

If you’re keen on finding out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, then this is one for you. This newly created two acre nature garden provides many uniquely designed homes for wildlife.

Wander through the flower meadow visiting individually designed areas, structures, water features and ponds. Seating areas afford stunning views towards Exmoor and Dartmoor. Both native and herbaceous plants have been chosen to benefit insect and bird life.

This garden opens by arrangement for groups of between 1 and 99. This means the garden welcomes visitors on pre-agreed dates. So don’t be afraid to get in contact with them and arrange a visit. You can gather knowledge, tips and ideas through chatting to them about their hard work and then come back inspired to do the same!

Lewis Cottage, Spreyton

This well-known garden and plant nursery on the way to Spreyton, near Crediton, has four acres of garden that really demonstrate how to make the most of the natural landscape. It has evolved primarily over last 30 years using informal planting and natural formal structures to create a garden that reflects the souls of those who garden there. There are often special open days and there are a couple coming up on the 28/29 May and 25/26 June. Lewis Cottage Plants is an online nursery selling plants that grow in the garden at Lewis Cottage. You can also visit the nursery in person when you book a visit and pick up some of your favourite plants that you’ve spotted in the garden.

Andrew’s Corner Belstone

A little further afield, this garden really helps inspire when you want to garden on the wild side! In 2022 they celebrate 51 years of opening through the National Gardening Scheme.

In early May the maples, rhododendrons and unusual shrubs provide interest, late May brings the flowering davidia, cornus, embothrium and the spectacular blue poppies. A perfect day out and you are certain to get some good ideas!

Fursdon, near Exeter

Venture into East Devon a little and you will find Fursdon, where rural hillside gardens blend seamlessly into rolling parkland and on into the countryside with views over the Exe valley and beyond to Dartmoor.

Take a leisurely stroll through approximately 4 acres of garden and grounds including terraces of roses, herbs and perennials in mixed traditional and contemporary planting. The Vine Pavilion and thatched Round House are great places to sit and admire the view and listen to the birds – and there are many strategically placed benches for resting and taking time to be peaceful. Throughout the gardens, there are some steep slopes with grass or gravel paths.

The Meadow Garden, originally planted nearly 200 years ago, in memory of Harriet Fursdon, is now a woodland walk leading to a pond.

This is by no means a finished garden and this is why it’s a great inspiration. Restoring and regenerating this area is an ongoing project. They are establishing wild flowers and have planted hundreds of bulbs to grow under the canopy of trees. It is a short walk from the main garden and visitors can wander and enjoy this peaceful natural space, while building up an appetite for tea in the Coach Hall.

They have created a pond in The Meadow Garden which attracts all sorts of wildlife and planted the banks and beds which lie next to the grassed walkways.

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We hope you enjoy visiting these gardens. If you want to recommend others, then head to our Facebook and Instagram pages and please add them into the comments!

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Crediton Rental Homes Nightmare

  • Crediton needs 32 additional private rented properties per year to keep up with current and future demand from Crediton tenants.
  • Yet over the last 5 years, Crediton has lost 41 private rented homes.
  • What are the 5 reasons the supply of private rental properties in Crediton are falling? What does this mean for tenants and landlords in Crediton?

There has been a rise in demand for rental properties and an 8.9% fall in the number of Crediton private rented properties, which has caused Crediton rents to rise by 9.2% in the last year, a new all-time high. 

The National Residential Landlords Association asked the respected economics think tank, Capital Economics, to carry out research on the UK rental market. It found that if the current trends in the property market in terms of growth of the population, Brits living longer, the lack of new homes building and the reduction in social housing (aka council housing) then demand for homes in the private rented sector needs to increase by 227,000 homes per year. 

So, based on those numbers, Crediton needs to have an additional 32 private rented properties per year.

The problem is the number of private rented properties in Crediton has reduced from 774 in 2017 to 733 in 2021, a net loss of 41.

So, why has supply of private rented homes in Crediton reduced?

  1. Section 24 Income Tax

Section 24 was introduced in 2017 to level the playing field on the taxation of property between homeowners and landlords. Section 24 stops landlords from offsetting their buy-to-let mortgage costs against the profits from their rental property. Interestingly, no other kind of UK business is affected by the Section 24 taxation. In other words, whatever other form of business you might be in, be it butcher, baker or candlestick maker, every other business can offset their finance costs against their profits, except buy-to-let.

The issue caused by Section 24 Tax is that some landlords ended up paying more income tax than they really made in profit after paying their buy-to-let mortgages. Meaning on the back of rising Crediton house prices in the last five years, some Crediton landlords have sold their buy-to-let investments.

  • 3% More Stamp Duty for Landlords

When someone buys a property, they normally must pay a tax to the Government for the privilege. This tax is called Stamp Duty. Yet landlords must pay an additional 3% stamp duty supplement on top of that when they purchase a Crediton buy-to-let property. Evidence suggests some Crediton landlords have decided to hold off or scale back buying additional buy-to-let properties for their portfolio because of the thousands of extra pounds that landlords have to pay to buy the rental property.

  • Holiday and AirBnb Lets

Some Crediton landlords are converting their long-term rental properties into short-term furnished holiday and AirBnB properties. Whilst the hassle, stress and service levels are much higher, these types of properties do tend to make more money and aren’t as heavily taxed as normal lets. When properties convert to short-term lets, it removes another Crediton property out of the general supply chain of long-term rental properties.

  • Greater Legislation for Rental Properties

With more than 150 pieces of legalisation, and new laws being added each year, the burden on landlords is huge. On the horizon is the Renters Reform Bill which will remove the no fault evictions. Also, all rental properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of below a ‘C’ will have to be improved (i.e. money spent on them) by the landlord. This could be more than £10,000 per property. Hence, why some Crediton landlords have been selling their rental properties with low EPC ratings in the last 18 months.

  • Accidental Landlords Selling Up

There are some Crediton landlords who are classed as ‘Accidental Landlords’. In 2008/9, with a slowing property market and house price values dropping in the order of 16% to 19%, (depending on the type of property) some Crediton homeowners decided to let their home out as opposed to selling it at a loss. Yet, with the price booms of the last 18 months, many decided to cash in on the higher property prices and sell – again taking another private rental property out of the system.

So, why is demand of private rented homes in Crediton increasing, even though more people own their home in Crediton than 5 years ago?

Even with better provision of affordable social housing and higher rates of owner occupation in Crediton (rising from 63.53% of homes in Crediton being owner occupied in 2017 to 65.86% in 2021), demand for private rental property continues to outstrip supply.

There are many reasons behind this including …

  1. People are living longer, meaning not so many properties are coming back into the mix to be recycled for the younger generation.
  • Net migration to the UK has continued at just over a quarter of a million people a year since 2017, meaning we need an additional 115,000 households to house them alone.
  • For the last two years, one in six of the owners of properties that have been sold have moved in to rented accommodation instead of buying on because of the lack of properties to buy.

So, what is the outcome of the imbalance between supply and demand on Crediton rental properties?

Quite simply – Crediton rents have rocketed. They are 9.2% higher today than the spring of 2020 … and that’s on the back of rents being 10.1% higher in spring 2020, compared to spring 2019.

The severe shortage of housing in the private rented sector is pushing up rents in Crediton as demand continues to grow. Many Crediton people are finding it hard work to find appropriate accommodation at a reasonable rent, and with mounting numbers of tenants predicted to continue, this situation will only get worse unless more houses are built.

My heart goes out to those Crediton tenants struggling with the cost-of-living crisis only to then be hit by higher rents.

Yet, these higher rents are now enticing new landlords back into the Crediton buy-to-let market because of the higher returns.

With higher inflation, property investment has been seen in the past a safe harbour to invest one’s money in. With the bonus of rising yields (because of the increase in rents) together with the nervousness of the Bank of England to increase interest rates too much because of the issues in Eastern Europe, this could be the start of a second renaissance in the Crediton buy-to-let market.

If you have concerns about the issues in legislation and taxation, then the advantage of employing a letting agent, with the choice of property, what you pay for it and how it’s managed, will go a long way to mitigate them.

If you are considering getting into the Crediton buy-to-let market for the first time or expanding your property portfolio (whether you are a client of mine or not) please do not hesitate to give me a call and we can discuss these matters further.

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831 Crediton Terraced Houses Why are they so popular?

The terraced house is one of the most familiar styles of home in Crediton (and the UK as a whole).

23.8% of Crediton people live in a terraced home, interesting when compared with the national average of 22.7%.

So, what is it about the humble terraced/townhouse us Brits love so much? In this article, I look at the history of the terraced house, how it relates to Crediton and what the future holds for terraced homes.

A terraced house is a property built as part of a continuous row of three (or more) properties in a similar and uniform style.

The reason the British call them ‘terraced houses’ and not ‘row houses’ came about because 18th century British architects borrowed the phrase ‘terrace’ from ‘terraced gardens’. Terraced gardens were known for their uniform nature (in looks, style and height etc.), so the architects decided to name them the same way as opposed to a ‘row house’. In fact, in most countries, they are called ‘row houses’.

The terraced house originated in the Low Countries of Europe in the late 1500s.

Terraced houses were first built en-masse in the UK after the Great Fire of 1666 with the rebuilding of London.

They became fashionable for the landed gentry in the early Georgian era with chic and stylish terraces appearing in London’s Mayfair and Bath with its Queen Square (the forerunner of the famous Royal Crescent) and were sometimes built around a garden square.

However, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that the terraced house turned out to be the solution to the increasing population of the towns as more and more people were attracted to towns and cities for work.

The terraced house fell out of favour with the upper-middle classes in the late Victorian age (1870s onwards) as they wanted more privacy and space. They moved to live in detached houses or semi-detached villas, as the terrace house had started to become associated with the lower-middle and working classes.

With all these terraced houses being built, their quality of construction and design dropped as builders tried to squeeze more profit. The biggest issue was that most of the terraced houses built in the early to mid-Victorian age (1840s to 1870s) were made back-to-back with no rear garden, causing unsanitary conditions. Therefore, the Public Health Act of 1875 was introduced to regulate the building of terraced houses with design and standards.

These new building standards in the Act improved the terraced house’s ventilation and, more importantly, required the house to have a toilet (frequently built outside). To meet these new building standards, the designs of these new houses created the well-known landscape of ‘grid’ streets lined with two-storey terraces serviced by a pedestrian path between them, the name of which is a hotly debated topic. The various names for the pathway include alleyway/jitty/cut/ginnel/snicket/passageway/ten foot/five foot/witchel/lonnin/vennel.

As a Crediton resident, why not say what you call them in the comments?

As we entered the 20th century, the terrace house continued to be popular, albeit with some new architectural additions.

The advent of Arts and Craft architecture with stain glass windows, Tudor style cladding, ornate porches, and elaborate chimney stacks.

After the First World War and the introduction of the Housing and Town Planning Act 1919 (which made local councils build council houses), the Victorian terraced rapidly became associated with overcrowding and slums (especially those back-to-back terraced houses built before 1875). Many of the back-to-back terraced houses were knocked down between 1930 and 1960 in what is known as the slum clearances.

Private builders started building the iconic suburban semi-detached houses with more extensive gardens, and local authorities decided to build high-rise blocks after World War II. Yet after the partial collapse of Ronan Point in 1968, the popularity of high-rise tower blocks waned.

Since the early 1990s though, the terraced house has steadily come back into favour as building land prices have increased by 322% in the last 30 years.

Many private builders have started to build modern three-storey townhouses in rows of five to seven. This terraced ‘townhouse-style’ allows three and four bedrooms on a land footprint that would have usually only accommodated a smaller two-bed property.

So, let’s look at some interesting stats on Crediton terraced houses:

  • There are 831 terraced houses in Crediton (broken down as 570 privately owned terraced houses, 102 terraced council houses and 159 in the private rented sector).
  • 19.1% of terraced houses in Crediton are in the private rented sector, which is equal to the national average of 19.1%.
  • The most expensive terraced house in Crediton ever sold was on Union Terrace, Crediton for £532,000 in 2016.
  • The cheapest Crediton terraced house sold in the last two years was on Kirton Drive, for £85,000.
  • Terraced houses in Crediton sell for an average of £196 per square foot.

I hope you found that thought-provoking?

So, why is the terraced house, be it a red brick Victorian house or a more modern three-storey townhouse, still popular today in Crediton?

They are typically well built, cheaper to maintain (especially the older terraced houses), comparatively spacious, and are in good locations. Many terraced houses have been improved and extended through the inventive use of rear gardens/yards and converted roof spaces; their unpretentious design remains adaptable enough for 21st century living; what isn’t there to like about them?

These are my thoughts; tell me your thoughts about the humble yet versatile Crediton terraced house.

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67% Drop in Crediton Council Houses in the Last 40 Years

  • In 1981, 26.1% of properties in Crediton (and the Mid Devon District as a whole) were council houses. Today, that figure stands at 8.7%, a proportional drop of 67%.
  • Why has the number of council houses dropped so much in those 40 years?
  • How has that changed the dynamics of the Crediton property market in those 40 years?

The ability of local authorities to build council houses came into law in July 1919 with the 1919 housing and Town Planning Act. It was one of the most important pieces of domestic legislature passed after WW1 and was the first time in the UK that a nationally public funded system of providing homes was made for the masses. It was paid for mostly by central government and provided by local authorities (councils) and public utility societies (which in later years became today’s housing associations). 

Between 1919 and 1979, 6.94 million council houses were built.

Just over 1 million council houses were built between 1920 and 1939, whilst 5,804,150 council houses were built between 1946 and 1979. This is compared to 4,533,440 private homes and 260,910 housing association properties in the same time frame (’46 to ’79).

So, between 1946 and 1979, the council house was the dominate force of British housing. But that all changed in 1979!

Many people believe it was Margaret Thatcher who was the architect of allowing the sitting tenant of a council house to buy their home. Interestingly, council house tenants have been able to buy their council house from as early as the mid 1930s, albeit with little or no discount. Also, as late as 1977, the Labour Housing Minster published a Green Paper extolling the virtues of homeownership and council tenants being able to buy their home at a discount.

But after the General Election of 1979, the new Tory government drafted the Housing Act 1980, which gave the Right to Buy, which became law in the autumn of 1980. Then things really took off!

This new law established a right for most council tenants who had been in their home for three years or more to a discount. The discount started at 33% and increased by 1% for each extra year, up to a maximum of 50%. If the tenant sold the house within the first five years of ownership, a prorated repayment of their discount was required.

Between 1980 and 1989, 970,558 council houses nationally were sold at a discount.

Yet the issue was, when a council house was sold, it took that house out of the council’s portfolio for future generations. From the start, there were limitations on local authorities’ use of monies from the council house sales as most of it had to be given to central government in London, meaning only 390,560 new council houses were built between 1980 and 1989. Looking at the numbers locally …

in 1981, there were 5,449 council houses in Mid Devon, today it’s 2,843.

No wonder the country has a housing crisis … yet as my regular readers know – the devil is in the detail … and that devil is the humble housing association. 

The Tory General Election Manifesto in 1979 had proposed the rights for both council house and housing association tenants to buy their own house under the Right to Buy scheme. The Conservatives argued housing associations, who obtained government funding, should be subject to the same Right to Buy proposals as councils. The Government won the vote in the Commons, yet lost the vote in the Lords, meaning housing association tenants could not buy their homes at a large discount.

At the time, there were only 400,000 housing association properties in the country, so the Government were not that worried. But the significance of housing associations developed in the 1980s and beyond as they were allowed to borrow money from the private sector.

Between 1949 and 1979, the average number of housing association properties built annually was 8,524. Since 1979 to today, it has been 25,062 per year (and 31,606 per year in the 2010s).

Also, the Government encouraged councils to transfer their remaining council houses to housing association schemes from 1986. The advantage to these ‘stock transfers’ was the Government allowed housing associations to access private funding to improve their existing properties and buy new ones (good news for existing tenants complaining that the local authority never upgraded their homes).

Moreover, the Tory Government liked stock transfers, as it allowed them to dismantle council housing from the inside. Interestingly, Labour expanded the ‘Stock Transfer’ process in 1997 and further reduced the eligibility for council tenants’ Right to Buy, meaning the number of council tenants exercising their Right to Buy declined considerably.

Meaning today, even though the provision of council housing has dropped like the proverbial

stone … 

the number of housing association properties in Mid Devon has increased from 362 in 1981 to 1,292.

So, how has this changed the dynamic of the Crediton property market in the last 40 years?

Would it surprise you to learn that the number of people who own their own Crediton home today is very similar to what it was 20 years ago before the property boom started? It’s just that even though we’ve had a large drop in the number of council houses and an increase in the number of housing association properties, the number of people owning their own home has remained relatively the same (in some areas of Crediton this has actually increased), the significant issue is the growth of the private rented sector.

It’s almost as if people who used to rent from the council now rent from a private landlord.

The question is, is it right for private individuals to make money from tenants who rent from them as opposed to the local authority? Or are private landlords providing better types, choices and quality of accommodation for these tenants, albeit at a higher rental rate than if they rented a council house?

I really do believe if it wasn’t for the growth of the buy-to-let landlord, which began in the early 2000s, we would have an even bigger housing crisis on our hands than the one we have currently.

Both local and central government have had their hands tied behind their backs since 2008 with a lack of funding, and it’s the humble private landlord who has stepped up and supplied in excess of 2.3million additional rental properties since 2001, housing nearly 5,520,000 Brits. These landlords have saved the day since the big council house sell off in the 1980s!

What are your thoughts on this matter?