A Decade of New Home Building in Rotherham

A Decade of New Home Building in Rotherham

Should you buy a brand new home? Whether you’re a buy-to-let landlord or buying a home for yourself and your family, this article examines what the best steps are for you.

Well, let’s start by looking at the numbers…

Over the last 10 years, 5,074 new homes have been built in the Rotherham area

That is a lot of bricks and mortar! Roll the clock back twenty years in the Rotherham property market and there were two distinct camps of property buyers – folks who would only contemplate living in period character properties with their original fireplaces and beams, and those people who preferred the low maintenance of a new home. Old period homes were ridiculed as money pits by new-home aficionados, while new-home owners were accused of buying boring boxes – all vanilla, all the same, homogenous and bland.

However, it’s not as black and white as that anymore – or not as I see it in Rotherham. New homebuilders are now trying to change their cookie-cutter uniform rows of suburban boxes into developments that are as individual as the families that love in them, thus increasing their appeal. Nevertheless, whether you choose a stone cottage, archetypal Victorian semi or terrace, 1970’s/80’s functional home or a untouched new home, it can result in supplementary costs that are often not taken into consideration.

So looking at the numbers in greater detail, let’s see what type of new homes people have been buying in Rotherham and the wider local authority area:

I thought the mix of what was built/bought locally over the last 10 years when compared to the national figures was fascinating! It’s interesting (but not surprising) to see a greater proportion of flats built locally and fewer terraced homes being built, when compared to the national averages. This is for a variety of reasons:

  • the nature of the Rotherham area
  • location in the country
  • the availability of building land
  • planning restrictions by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
  • the price of building land.

So, should you buy a new home?

Well if you are considering new, take care when buying one, as often the show home isn’t the actual property you end up buying. It’s like visiting the car showroom and falling in love with the model in the showroom (with all its additional features) – only to get the base model when handed the keys. Look out for things like curtain rails, tv aerials (or lack of them), kitchen appliances, carpets and curtains. In addition, make sure you aren’t unwittingly buying a square piece of earth instead of the manicured landscaped gardens.

New homes are a lot more efficient on energy consumption compared to the old drafty, high fuel bill Victorian semis, as their owners can testify. Older properties will have maintenance issues, with 100yo brickwork and roofs that might need replacement and extra insulation, rotten wooden windows and a dodgy central heating boiler (all sounding rather a strain on your bank balance if you weren’t aware). The point I am trying to get across is open your eyes and don’t assume… ask questions and get a surveyor to make a detailed inspection of the property so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Is there a pattern to when people purchased a new home?

I also wanted to break down the new home stats to each individual year in our local area to see if there was a pattern to when people bought a new home.

As you can see, sales of new homes have generally increased since the Credit Crunch years (2008 to 2010). Looking at the much larger second hand housing market in Rotherham over the same 10 years, the coloration between the new homes market and second market has been quite strong – which shows the new home builders don’t make (or break) the Rotherham housing market – just follow it (although with the planned building locally in the next 10/20 years – who knows if that will continue to be the case?)

So, should you buy brand-new or second hand?

If price is your sole motivator, then new homes are always CHEAPER when the economy is bad. However, in normal and good housing market conditions, you will pay a ‘new build premium’. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors admits that this can be as high as 10% extra, when compared to a similar second hand property – so be aware of that (it’s like paying extra for a new car and losing a bit (or a lot) of money as soon as you drive off the forecourt). Although, it’s not always about pure pound notes.

Older houses are bigger (more room) yet take more money to heat. Older houses have bigger gardens (to enjoy) – but you will spend more time tending to them. Older houses are in more established areas (with more facilities), whilst everyone is starting afresh on new homes. It all comes down to personal opinion.

One final thought though, at least with new homes there is no gazumping or no upward chain to ruin any sale completion dates…

The choice, as they say, is down to you!

Introducing the Bank of Mum and Dad – helping first time buyers get on the property ladder!

Introducing the Bank of Mum and Dad – helping first time buyers get on the property ladder!

Who is really funding first time buyers purchasing property in Rotherham? It’s The Bank of Mum and Dad of course.

I have recently been studying the figures for the last quarter where 692 Rotherham properties were purchased by first time buyers. With wages rising at 2.8%, unemployment at a low rate of 4.2% (down from 4.6% from a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975), national GDP rising at 1.87% and inflation at 2.3%, there has been a great opportunity for first time buyers to get their foot on the first rung of the Rotherham property ladder. Indifferent house price growth (compared to a few years ago) has certainly helped.

How much are first time buyers paying and borrowing?

Over the last year, the average purchase price of a Rotherham first time buyer property has been £80,200. The average deposit paid was £12,992 yet my calculations show that the average Rotherham parents are contributing about £5,684 – nearly 44% of the total deposit!

The Rotherham brand of The Bank of Mum and Dad is for many young adults perceived to be the only way they will ever be able to afford their first home. In fact, parents in our area have contributed a substantial £3.93m in the last 12 months to ensure that their nearest and dearest offspring manage to get onto the property ladder. This assistance towards the deposit makes a huge difference, enabling youngsters who thought they couldn’t get on the housing ladder more able to do so.

There’s little being done to address the real problems with the housing market

With mortgage rates at all-time lows, few people would struggle to make mortgage repayments, but it is the requirement of the deposit which is usually the issue. With parents (and sometimes grandparents) helping out where they can, this does little to address the real problems of the housing market – for both people buying their first home and renters!

In our country the oldest generation control the biggest share of the nation’s welfare – we have been fortunate that they have been so generous to those following them. We must remember, however, that this generosity is a sign of the issues of the British housing shortage – not it’s solution.

The return of 95% mortgages mean there are options for first time buyers

You may have noticed that I used the word “perceived” earlier in the article – young adults borrowing from their parents is perceived to be only way they can afford their first home. This was intentional. Yes, the average first time buyer deposit is 16.1% but that is an average. Since late 2009 there have been 95% mortgages available for first time buyers. In addition, lenders like Barclays and many local building societies offer 100% mortgages (with no deposit!) at 2.75% fixed for three years.

The perception is you need 15%, 20% or even a 25% deposit to be a first-time buyer… this is simply not true!

However, there is a changing perception when it comes to renting.

Renting is no longer seen as the poor man’s choice, as many young (and increasing older) people are becoming more at ease and comfortable with the flexibility offered by private renting a property rather than jumping ‘lemming like’ into home ownership. Rotherham landlords will continue to see growth in sector, and like Germany, today’s renters will become homeowners in the future – when they will inherit the wealth of their parent’s home.

Interesting times are ahead – please get in touch if I can help you with anything to do with the property market. Whether you’re a prospective first time buyer or a landlord – I’m happy to help!

Will the Rotherham Property Market Crash?

Will the Rotherham Property Market Crash?

Is the Rotherham property market heading for a crash? And if it does crash, who will be the winners and who will lose out?

There are various reasons people want prices to maintain at their current rate. Likewise, some would benefit from a drop. In this article we’ll be examining who could win and who could lose, as well as looking at what is currently going on in our area and what might happen in the future.

Who wants house prices to drop?

There are two broad camps who would possibly want house prices to drop. The first is obvious – those millennials wanting to buy their first home or perhaps a young married couple wanting to buy their first home before having children. Property prices dropping would help the first time buyer category.

The second category are the Rotherham people who are in their mid-30s to 40s and sitting on a sizeable amount of equity but are hoping to trade up. Why? Because the percentage drop on the current ‘cheaper’ property will be much less than the same percentage drop of the more expensive property. Trading up is all about the difference!

Finally, shrewd landlords looking to add to their portfolio will see a price drop as an opportunity to bag a bargain or two.

Who wants house prices to rise?

If you’ve recently bought a Rotherham property with a gigantic mortgage you will be hoping that property values continue to rise. If you are retired and preparing to downsize you will also want Rotherham property values to rise as this will leave you with more cash after the move.

Whilst some landlords looking to buy would relish a price drop, landlords looking to sell their portfolio will want to maximise what they can make while prices remain high. Rotherham home owners who have remortgaged to raise money for other projects (meaning you have very little equity), will want property values to continue to increase in order to enable you to put a bigger deposit down on the next purchase.

A brief look at the past

Before we consider the future, let’s take a look at the past. The last property crash was caused by the global financial crisis and happened between Q3 2007 and Q3 2009. Property values in Rotherham dropped by 13.26%. The average property in September 2007 was £135,375 but only £117,425 in September 2009.

Since then, property values have rise in the medium-term, as you can see below.

So … what is happening now?

The simple fact is people in the UK are moving less (and hence buying and selling less). Estate agents up and down the land are blaming “Brexit” for this but the reality is that the problems in the British housing market are a lot greater than old Brexit!

There is a direct link between how people feel about the property market and the actual performance of the property market. However, the question of whether people’s sentiment moves as a result of changes in the property market, or whether changes in the property market drive sentiment is a question that baffles most economists – you see if someone feels assured about their financial situation (job, money etc.) and the future of property, they are more likely to feel assured to spend their hard-earned earnings on property and buy (and if you think about it… vice versa.)

So, I believe Brexit isn’t the issue  – it’s just the “go to” excuse people are using.

Humans don’t like uncertainty, and Brexit itself is causing uncertainty – it is, after all, the great unknown.

So, is it the flux of global politics? Politics are causing hesitation in the posh £5m+ property markets of Mayfair and other high value Monopoly board pieces – but certainly not in a smaller place like Rotherham (because let’s face it, I don’t think Rotherham is too high up on the house buying list of rich foreigners).

Instead, the issues are much closer to home.

Changes to buy-to-let as an investment

One of the biggest driving factors in the current state of play in the housing market in our local area is been the part played by buy-to-let landlords in the last 15 years. Making money as a buy-to-let landlord used to be as easy as falling off a log – we’ve had some golden years! But not anymore! Landlords had been getting off quite lightly when it came to their tax position but now that taxation rules on buy-to-let have changed things have become a little more difficult.

What’s changed? Landlords have been hit with a supplementary rate of stamp duty, meaning they pay 3% more stamp duty than first time buyers. High rate taxpayers in the past have been able to offset the interest payments from their buy-to-let mortgages against their self-assessment tax bills (at their marginal rate) but this is being reduced in small steps – they will only be able to claim back relief at the basic rate of tax.

The bottom line is that it will be much tougher for investors to make money on buy-to-let. Tied in with this, the mortgage rules were changed a few years ago, meaning it’s also become slightly tougher to obtain buy-to-let mortgages (although if I’m being honest – they needed to do this).

I recently mentioned that last year was the best year for over decade for first time buyers. For the last 30 years, buy-to-let investors have constantly had more purchasing power than first time buyers, as they were older and more established and had tax breaks helped them out. However, with many amateur landlords reconsidering staying in buy-to-let, the door is open for first time buyers to get their first foot on the property ladder.

What will happen to the property values?

The simple fact is we don’t have the conditions that caused the crash in 2007. Back then sub-prime lending in the US caused banks to stop lending to each other and stalled the global economy as a whole. Assuming everyone is sensible with the Brexit negotiations, the biggest issue is possibly interest rates. As long as interest rates remain comparatively low (and don’t get me wrong – I think we could stand Bank of England base interest rates at 1.5% to 2.5% and still be OK), then the thought of a massive property market crash still looks improbable.

Yet correspondingly, I cannot see Rotherham property values rising quickly either.

The double-digit growth years in property values between 1999 and 2004 are well gone. A lot of that growth was caused by an explosion of buy-to-let landlords buying property to accommodate the influx of EU migrants during those years. Mark Carney at the Bank of England can’t make interest rates any lower, so it’s difficult to envisage how credit conditions can get any easier!

Balance of probabilities: Rotherham property values will hover either side of inflation over the next five years.

But if we did have another crash, what exactly would that mean to Rotherham homeowners?

If Rotherham property prices dropped today by the same percentage as they did locally 10 years ago… we would actually only be returning to the property values being achieved in April 2013… and nobody was complaining about those!

Therefore, about 17% of local home owners and landlords have bought homes in the area since April 2013 – that’s only a small percentage of people who would actually lose. After all, you only lose money if you decide to move. Many of these people may be people looking for a price drop so in reality, not many people are going to lose out.

Not much to worry about then! Interesting, don’t you think?

As ever, if you do need help or assistance in knowing what’s the right move for you, I’m on hand to help out. Please get in touch with me and I will be happy to offer advice.

More than 2,000 new homes are required in Rotherham by 2027

More than 2,000 new homes are required in Rotherham by 2027

My latest research looks at both national and regional reports on the demand and supply of property and people and considers future projection on the economy, population and family demographics. There are some interesting results that will be useful for those who are fascinated by the local property market here in Rotherham (and the shape of property across the UK!)

According to the Office of National Statistics, in the last financial year, national private renting grew by 74,000 households, whilst the owner occupied dwelling stock increased by 101,000 and social stock increased by 12,000 dwellings.

The number of private rental households has caught my eye

It was the private rental figures that caught my eye. With eight or nine years of recovery since the financial crisis began in 2009, economic recovery and continuing low interest rates have done little to setback the mounting need for rented housing.  In fact, with house price inflation pushing upwards much quicker than wage growth, this has meant to make owning one’s home even more out of reach for many Millennials. At the same time the number of council/social housing has shrunk by just over 2.5% since 2003, making more households move into private renting.

What about Rotherham?

In Rotherham there are 12,877 people living in 5,416 privately rented properties.

If we look at the future population growth statistics for the Rotherham area and make careful and moderate calculations of what proportion of those extra people will rent as opposed to. buy we can predict how many more people may be in private rented property. In the next ten years, I believe around 5,500 people (adults & children combined) will require a private rented property to live in.

Therefore, we need the number of private rented homes in our area to rise by 1,446 households over the next nine years.

That’s 258 additional Rotherham properties per year that will need to be bought by Rotherham landlords to meet that demand.

… and remember, I am being conservative with those calculations. Demand for privately rented homes in Rotherham could still rise more abruptly than I have predicted as I have previously suggested that Theresa May’s aim to build 400,000 affordable homes is rather optimistic, if not fanciful.

So, one has to ask wonder if it was wise to introduce a buy to let stamp duty surcharge of 3%? Furthermore, will the constraint on mortgage tax relief curtail the ability of private landlords to expand their portfolios?

The rise of the smarter landlord

Well, a lot of landlords are taking on these new hurdles to buy-to-let and working smarter. Something tells me that smart landlords are seeing these challenges as just that… challenges that can be overcome by working more smartly.

For example, buying the property at the right price and using an agent to negotiate on your behalf and the 3% stamp duty level isn’t an issue. Likewise, incorporating your property portfolio into a Limited Company is also a way to circumnavigate the issues of mortgage tax relief (although there are other hurdles that need to be navigated on that tack).

There’s actually been growth in the number of buy-to-let properties across the country since 2016 indicating that landlords are using their brains more! I have a steady stream of Rotherham landlords every week asking me my opinion on the future of the Rotherham property market and their individual future strategy and, whether you are a landlord of mine or not, if you ever want to send me an email or pop into my office to chat on how you could navigate these new buy-to-let waters it will be good to speak to you.

Don’t let other landlords have an advantage over you! Get in touch today

Rotherham Property Market: An Update

Rotherham Property Market: An Update

Good news for buy-to-let landlords in Rotherham – ‘top of the range’, well-presented properties are getting really decent rents compared to a year ago. However, this rise in rents is thwarting many potential first time buyers from saving for a deposit and for money for a rainy day. On top of this, there is also a shortage of of Rotherham homes coming on the market thus adding fuel to the slowdown and affecting not just first time buyers but also those looking to move up the housing ladder.

Whilst it is true that the Government’s initiatives, targeted at improving the supply of homes built and helping first time buyers obtaining necessary funding, are slowly starting to work, I also believe that to boost more existing home-owners and their properties onto the market, we as a country, need to see a better focus placed on those looking to downsize (i.e. the mature generation).How

If we took away some hurdles to homeowners downsizing, such as removing stamp duty for those downsizers (as was done for first time buyers last year), together with encouraging even more first time buyers with 100% mortgages to buy the smaller properties, this would release more mid-range properties onto the market. Subsequently, this would encourage more mature homeowners to downsize from their bigger properties to buy those mid-range properties – thus completing the circle.

Looking at the most recent set of data from the Land Registry for Rotherham (the S65 postcode in particular), the figures show the indifferent nature of the current Rotherham property market.

Only 168 Rotherham (S65) homes changed hands in the last 6 months

Rotherham property values and transactions continue to be sluggish, and the monthly peaks and troughs of house prices and properties changing hands doesn’t mask the deficiency of suitable realistically priced property coming onto the property market. The housing market is slowly becoming inaccessible to some would-be home owners.

The data from the Land Registry is always about four or five months behind, but looking at what each property type is selling for in S65 makes interesting reading:

There’s quite a bit of variance in terraced and detached properties but we must remember these are the average prices paid, so it only takes a run of a few expensive or cheaper property types to have an impact on the figures.

What about the number of properties for sale?

I directed my research for the numbers from early summer in 2008. At that time, 1,554 properties were on the market for sale in our area, compared to 722 properties for sale when I was researching this article. That’s a drop of 54%.

The importance of landlords

The Government needs to seriously consider the supply and demand of the UK property market as a whole to ensure it doesn’t seize up. It needs to do that with bold and forward-thinking plans.In the meantime, people still need a roof over their head, so as local authorities don’t have the cash to build new houses anymore, it’s the job of Rotherham landlords to take up the slack. I must stress though, I have noticed a distinct ‘flight to quality’ by Rotherham tenants, who are prepared to pay top dollar for an exceptional home to rent.

If you want to know what tenants are looking for and what type of things you as a Rotherham landlord need to do to maximise your rental returns, feel free to drop me a line.

What’s the plan to fix the Rotherham property market?

What’s the plan to fix the Rotherham property market?

It’s been nearly 18 months since Sajid Javid, the then Housing Minister published the White Paper “Fixing the Broken UK Housing Market”. In the meantime, Rotherham property values have continued to rise at a rate of 3.1% (year on year for the council area) but the number of new homes being constructed locally bumps along at a snail’s pace, creating a potential perfect storm for those looking to buy and sell.

The White Paper is important for those in Rotherham and the rest of the UK, as it will ensure we have long-term stability and longevity in property market as whole. Rotherham home-owners and landlords need to be aware of the issues in the report to ensure they don’t lose out. The White Paper wanted more homes to be built in the next couple of decades, so it might seem counter-intuitive for existing home-owners and landlords to encourage more homes to be built and a change in the direction of housing provision – as this would appear to have a negative effect on their own property.

Yet the country needs a diversified and fluid property market to allow the economy as whole to grow and flourish, which in turn will be a greater influence on whether prices go up or down in the long term. I am sure every homeowner or landlord in Rotherham doesn’t want another housing crisis like we had in 1974, 1988 and most recently in 2008.

Since it’s publication, Sajid Javid has moved on to the Home Secretary role, so now James Brokenshire (the 17th Housing Minister in 20 years) has been given the task of making this White Paper come alive.

What was the main points in the White Paper?

The first of the four points brought up was a proposal to give local authorities powers to speed up house building and ensure developers complete new homes on time. Secondly, the White Paper suggested statutory methods demanding local authorities and builders build at higher densities (i.e. more houses per hectare) where appropriate. The other two points were incentives for smaller builders to take a larger share of the new homes market and help for people renting.

However, the two initial points of planning and density are what this article is most interested in…

1. Planning

For planning to work, we need a robust Planning Department.

Looking at data from the Local Government’s Association, in Rotherham the council spends below the regional average – only £20.75 per person compared with the regional average of £37.35 per head. This means the planning department will be hard pressed to meet those targets.

However, 100% of planning applications are decided within the statutory 8-week initial period, above the regional average of 87% (see the graph below). I am therefore slightly disappointed and also pleased with the numbers for our local authority when it comes to the planning and the budget allowed by our politicians to this vital service.

2. Density of Population

9 people live in every hectare (or 2.471 acres) in Rotherham

It won’t surprise you that 231,177 of 257,280 Rotherham residents live in the urban conurbations of the authority, giving a density of 16.3 people per hectare (again – much lower than I initially thought), whilst the villages have a density of 1.8 people per hectare.

I would agree with the Government’s ambition to make more efficient use of land and avoid building homes at low densities is good to have. It is important that the form of development reflects the character, accessibility and infrastructure of the area.

It’s all very good building lots of houses – but we need the infrastructure to go with it.

Talking to a lot of Rotherham people, their biggest fear of all this building is a lack of infrastructure for those extra houses (the extra roads, doctors surgeries, schools etc.). I know most Rotherham homeowners and landlords want more houses to be built to house their family and friends… but irrespective of the density, it’s the infrastructure that goes with the housing that is just as important. The White Paper failed to go as far as I feel it should have done.

I believe there are interesting times ahead.

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