Local property market information for the serious investor

Month: January 2017

Cardiff’s private renting set to hit 42,359 households by 2021 – Is Buy to Let immoral? (Part 1)

Can we blame the 55 to 70-year-old Cardiff citizens for the current housing crisis in the city?

Also known as the ‘Baby Boomer Generation’, these Cardiff people were born after the end of the Second World War as the country saw a massive rise in births as they slowly recovered from the economic hardships experienced during wartime.

Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, they experienced (whilst in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s) an unparalleled level of economic growth and prosperity throughout their working lifetime on the back of improved education, government subsidies, escalating property prices and technological developments, they have emerged as a successful and prosperous generation.

…Yet some have suggested these Cardiff baby boomers have (and are) making too much money to the detriment of their children, creating a ‘generational economic imbalance’, where mature people benefit from house-price growth while their children are forced either to pay massive rents or pay large mortgages.

Between 2001 and today, average earnings rose by 65%,

but average Cardiff house prices rose by 119.6%

The issue of housing is particularly acute with the generation called the Millennials, who are young people born between the mid 1980’s and the late 1990’s. These 18 to 30 years, moulded by the computer and internet revolution, are finding as they enter early adult life, very hard to buy a property, as these ‘greedy’ landlords are buying up all the property to rent out back to them at exorbitant rents … it’s no wonder these Millennials are lashing out at buy to let landlords, as they are seen as the greedy, immoral, wicked people who are cashing in on a social despair.

Like all things in life, we must look to the past, to appreciate where we are now.

The three biggest influencing factors on the Cardiff (and UK) property market in the later half of the 20th Century were, firstly, the mass building of Council Housing in the 1950’s and 60’s. Secondly, for the Tory’s to sell most of those Council Houses off in the 1980’s and finally 15% interest rates in the early 1990’s which resulted in many houses being repossessed. It was these major factors that underpinned the housing crisis we have today in Cardiff.

To start with, in 1995 the USA relaxed its lending rules by rewriting the Community Reinvestment Act. This Act saw a relaxation on the Bank’s lending criteria’s as there was pressure on these banks to lend on mortgages in low wage neighbourhoods, as the viewpoint in the USA was that anyone (even someone on the minimum wage) any working class person should be able to buy a home.  Unsurprisingly, the UK followed suit in the early 2000’s, as Banks and Building Society’s relaxed their lending criteria and brought to the market 100% mortgages, even Northern Rock started lending every man and his dog 125% mortgages.

So when we roll the clock forward to today, and we can observe those very same footloose banks from the early/mid 2000’s (that lent 125% with a just note from your Mum and a couple of breakfast cereal tokens), ironically reciting the Bank of England backed hymn-sheet of responsible-lending. On every first time buyer mortgage application, they are now looking at every line on the 20-something’s banks statements, asking if they are spending too much on socialising and holidays … no wonder these Millennials are afraid to ask for a mortgage (as more often than not after all that – the answer is negative).

Conversely, you have unregulated Buy To Let mortgages. As long as you have a 25% deposit, have a pulse, pass a few very basic yardsticks and have a reasonable job, the banks will literally throw money at you … I mean Virgin Money are offering 2.99% fixed for 3 years – so cheap!

So, in Part Two next week, I will continue this emotive article and show you some very interesting findings on why young people aren’t buying property anymore (and it’s not what you think!).

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Cardiff Property News 2017

Hi Everyone!

I hope your week is going well.

I popped down to one of the new building developments earlier this week to take a  look and thought it would be a good opportunity to record my next video. Take a look

 

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£24m paid in Stamp Duty by Cardiff Residents

Apart from some minor exemptions, Stamp Duty is paid by anyone buying a property over £125,000 in the UK. It presently raises £10.68bn a year for the HM Treasury.

In the latest set of data from HMRC, in the MP constituencies that cover Cardiff, property buyers paid £24m stamp duty in one year alone – a lot of money in anyone’s eyes (although not as much as the £703m in income tax that all of us in the same area paid last year).

However, as you may know, George Osborne introduced an additional tax for landlords and from 1st April 2016 they had to pay an additional 3% stamp duty surcharge on top of the normal stamp duty rate when purchasing a buy to let property. There were tales of woe and Armageddon with a report by Deutsche Bank suggesting that the new surcharge could see house prices fall by as much as 20%.

HMRC data released in the Summer for Quarter 2 (Q2) of 2016 did seem to back up those fears as they published some worrying figures; only one in seven properties purchased was a second home or buy-to-let (in real numbers, only 30,300 of the 207,900 properties in Q2 were bought by landlords).

In previous articles, I spoke about the slump of property transactions after the 1st of April (as landlords rushed through their property purchases in March to beat the April deadline). In Q2 of 2016, £1.976bn was raised in Stamp Duty from Residential Property. Of that £1.976bn, £652m was paid by buy to let landlords (£424m in normal stamp duty and £228m in the additional 3% surcharge).

However, looking at Q3, the numbers have improved significantly. Of the 235,000 property sales, nearly one in four of them (56,100 to be precise) were bought by buy to let landlords and of the £2.208bn in stamp duty, £864m was paid in ‘normal’ stamp duty by BTL landlords and an impressive £442m paid by those same landlords in the additional stamp duty surcharge.

The statistics suggest buy to let investors have thankfully not been deterred by the stamp duty surcharge introduced in April this year. The figures also show that 65.4% of “buy to let” purchases cost less than £250,000, 23.7% of properties were in the £250k to £500k range and 10.9% (or 6,100 additional properties) of buy to let properties bought cost over £500k – interestingly nearly one in four (22.2%) of £500k properties purchased in Q3 were buy to let properties.

It just goes to back up what I stated a few weeks ago when I suggested that many investors had rushed to make purchases before 31st March, making figures in the following months (Q2) artificially low when the 3% supplement was introduced, but in Q3 the number of buy to let properties purchased increased by 85%.

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Cardiff First Time Buyers Are Paying 6.6% More Than 12 Months Ago

Figures just released by the Bank of England, show that for the first half of 2016, £128.73bn was lent by UK banks to buy UK property – impressive when you consider only £106.7bn was lent in the first half of 2015. Even more interesting, was that most of the difference was in Q2, as £68.12bn was lent by UK banks in new mortgages for house purchase, which is the highest it has been for two years. Looking locally, in Cardiff last quarter, £1.14bn was loaned on CF14 properties alone!

Even though the Bank won’t be releasing the Q3 figures until December 2016, as I discussed a few weeks ago, HMRC have published their own preliminary data to suggest Q3 will be even better, with a massive growth of buy-to-let landlords to the housing market in that time frame. Fascinating, as it seems to fly in the face of the popular narrative – that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit would negatively impact buyer sentiment.

And it’s not just buy-to-let landlords that seem to be flourishing. I am finding that first-time buyers are also a lot more confident too. Low, and now negative, inflation has had a tangible impact on household finances and first-time buyers feel more secure in their jobs. Couple with a low interest rate environment and you have all the ingredients for a strengthening property market. To back that up with numbers, of the £68.12bn of mortgages lent in the Quarter (Q2), £14.9bn was lent to first-time buyers (the highest proportion of that overall lending for over two years at 21.99%).

When I looked at the data for Cardiff City Council area, the average price paid by first-time buyers (FTB’S) was £166,866, which is a rise of 1.29% from last month and a rise of 6.67% to twelve months ago. The Land Registry then categorise the remaining buyers into cash buyers or those buying with a mortgage. The average price paid by cash buyers was £180,834, a rise of 1.15% from last month and a rise of 6.39% to twelve months ago, whilst buyers with mortgages (but not FTB’s), the average price paid by them was £193,176, a rise of 1.25% from last month and a rise of 6.6% to twelve months ago.

What surprised me with these figures was how close the property prices, values and percentages were to each other. It just goes to show the combination of low mortgage rates and a stable job market will continue to have a positive effect on the Cardiff and UK market.  And that is why, while there is undoubtedly more cautiousness in the market at present than a year or so ago (among borrowers and mortgage companies alike) – mortgage rates are so competitive that they are inducing people to commit to a home purchase.

It seems the great Brexit uncertainty was over hyped, and house price growth as well as mortgage approvals, could pick up pace into 2017.

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Average Rent Paid by Tenants in Cardiff Bay rise to £1,200 per month

 

Back in the Spring, there was a surge in Cardiff Bay landlords buying buy to let property in Cardiff Bay as they tried to beat George Osborne’s new stamp duty changes which kicked in on the 1st April 2016. To give you an idea of the sort of numbers we are talking about, below are the property statistics for sales either side of the deadline in CF10.

Jan 2016 – 30 properties sold

Feb 2016 – 29 properties sold

March 2016 – 81 properties sold

April 2016 – 8 properties sold

May 2016 – 12 properties sold

Normally, the number of sales in the Spring months is very similar, irrespective of the month. However, as one can see, this year was a completely different picture as landlords moved their purchases forward to beat the stamp duty increase. You would think that even with a basic knowledge of supply and demand economics, rents would be affected in a downwards direction?

However, there appears to be no apparent effect on the levels of rent being asked in Cardiff Bay – and more importantly achieved – and this direction of rents is not likely to inverse any time soon, particularly as legislation planned for 2017 might reduce rental stock and push property values ever upward. The decline of buy to let mortgage interest tax relief will make some properties lossmaking, forcing landlords to pass on costs to tenants in the form of higher rents just to stay afloat. Even those who can still operate may be deterred from making further investments, reducing rental stock at a time of severe property shortage.

.. but it’s not all bad news for tenants. Whilst average rents in Cardiff Bay since 2005 have increased by 13.1%, inflation has been 38.5% over the same time frame, meaning Cardiff Bay tenants are 25.4% better off in real terms when it comes to their rent (which is a sizeable chunk of most people’s monthly household budgets)

Year Average Rent in Cardiff Bay per month
2005 1003
2006 1027
2007 1062
2008 1095
2009 1104
2010 1098
2011 1114
2012 1134
2013 1149
2014 1162
2015 1180
2016 1200

 

I found it particularly interesting looking at the rent rises over the last five years in Cardiff Bay, as it was five years ago we started to see the very early green shoots of growth of the Cardiff Bay economy.  As a whole, following the Credit crunch (2011), rents in Cardiff Bay have risen by an average of 0.7% a year – fascinating don’t you think?

The view I am trying to portray is that while renting is often portrayed as the unfavorable alternative to home ownership, many young Cardiff Bay professionals like renting as it gives them adaptability with their life. Rents will continue to rise which is good news for landlords as buy to let is an investment but, as can be seen from the statistics, tenants have also had a good deal with below inflation increases in rents in the past. It’s a win-win situation for everyone although on a very personal note, it’s imperative in the future that tenants are not thwarted from saving for a deposit by excessive rental hikes – there has to be a balance.

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Cardiff Bay Property Values increase by 0.27% … good or bad news?

cardiff bay property

“How’s the Cardiff Bay housing market doing?” asked an upbeat Cardiff Bay landlord last week.  “Quite strange”, I replied. Our landlord was perplexed! Let me explain…

Even the Brexit vote has not hindered Cardiff Bay’s steady rise in property value, as Cardiff Bay property values went up 0.27% last month alone, leaving Cardiff Bay values 6.22% higher than a year ago. An increase in demand from buyers and an uninspiring level of supply (i.e. the number of properties on the market) has driven up the value of the Cardiff Bay’s housing.

…And that is where the issue is. With Brexit, the coalition of the 2010-15, a double-dip recession and post credit crunch fallout – I was perplexed that the Cardiff Bay property market (and values) has remained so strong, still 9.19% higher than 20 months ago. That is until you start to look into the real reasons why we find ourselves in such a great place.

The Cardiff Bay (and the UK) housing market is built on the foundations of basic economic rules that any GCSE Economics student should understand. However, at a time when, as a country, we seem eager to uncouple ourselves from all manner of proven facts, anything is up for grabs.

Even the wary RICS said throughout the UK, most of its Chartered Surveyors anticipated house prices to increase in the next six months, which seems contradictory given economic cautions from Mr Hammond and HM Treasury. Even though inflation will rise to around 2% to 3% in 2017 and perhaps a little more in 2018 because of Sterling’s devaluation, together with a high probability of a decelerating GDP and a slight rise in unemployment, how can the RICS and most of my landlords be so confident about the value of our homes?

Well, look at from where we are starting. Nationally, a base of low unemployment, low inflation and preposterously low interest rates, while in Cardiff Bay, the local economy is doing quite well for itself. Confidence also plays a part. Confidence can supersede basic economic facts for a short time at least, which is why actual property market changes tend to be more exaggerated, as confidence can turn both positive and negative very quickly. The fact is, there is a long-term relationship between property values, wages and unemployment.

By April 2017, Article 50 will be invoked. This will bring additional political tomfooleries and economic ups and downs. With both purchasers and vendors predisposed by the 24-hour news cycle, which let’s face it, gets more haphazard by the day, it is likely to prove a challenging couple of years … and yes, Cardiff Bay property values might drop slightly in 2017, but based on what we know of the UK plc now, the UK and Cardiff Bay property values are not projected to move that much over 2017 or 2018.  Going into the next two years, we are in much better financial shape as a country compared to the last two crashes of 1987 and 2008.

But, on the other side of the coin, what we also know is that we don’t know much about the form of our economic future or indeed many other facets of our lives. Confidence will continue to be the key player in the Cardiff Bay housing market for a while longer – yet this may spur some much needed second-hand market activity? Now, where is my crystal ball?

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