Local property market information for the serious investor

Month: November 2017

One in 28 rental properties in the Cardiff Bay area will be illegal in 2018

As the winter months draw in and the temperature starts to drop, keeping one’s home warm is vital. Yet, with the price of gas and electricity rising quicker than a Saturn V rocket and gas, oil and electricity taking on average 4.4% of a typical Brit’s pay packet (and for those Brit’s with the lowest 10% of incomes, that rockets to an eye watering 9.7%), whether you are a tenant or homeowner, keeping your energy costs as low as possible is vital for the household budget and the environment as a whole.

For the last 10 years, every private rental property must have an Energy-Performance-Certificate (EPC) rating.  The property is given an energy rating, very similar to those on washing machines and fridges with the rainbow coloured graph, of between A to G (A being the most efficient and G the worst). New legislation comes in to force next spring (2018) for English and Welsh private landlords making it illegal to let a property that does not meet a certain energy rating. After the 1st of April next year, any new tenant moving into a private rented property or an existing tenant renewing their tenancy must have property with an energy performance rating of E or above on the property’s EPC and the new law will apply for all prevailing tenancies in the spring of 2020. After April 2018, if a landlord lets a property in the ‘F’ and ‘G’ ratings (i.e. those properties with the worst energy ratings) Trading Standards could fine the landlord up to £4,000.

Personally, I have grave apprehensions that many Cardiff Bay landlords may be totally unaware that their Cardiff Bay rental properties could fall below these new legal minimum requirements for energy efficiency benchmarks. Whilst some households may require substantial works to get their Cardiff Bay property from an F/G rating to an E rating or above, my experience is most properties may only need some minor work to lift them from illegal to legal. By planning and acting now, it will mitigate the need to find tradespeople in the spring when every other Cardiff Bay landlord will be panicking and paying top dollar for work to comply.

Whilst there is money and effort involved in upgrading the energy efficiency of rental property, a property that is energy efficient will have greater appeal to tenants and other buy-to-let landlords/investors and this will enable you to obtain higher rents and sale price (when you come to sell your investment).

So, how many properties are there in the area that are F and G rated .. well quite a few in fact. Looking at the whole of the City of Cardiff Council area, of the 31,220 privately rented properties, there are ..

862 rental properties in the F banding

242 rental properties in the G banding

That means just over one in 28 rental properties in the Cardiff Bay and surrounding area has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. From April next year it will be illegal to rent out those homes rated F and G homes with a new tenancy.

Talking with the Energy Assessors that carry out our EPC’s, they tell me most of a building’s heat is lost through draughty windows/doors or poor insulation in the roof and walls. So why not look at your EPC and see what the assessor suggested to improve the efficiency of your property? I can find the EPC of every rental property in Cardiff Bay, so irrespective of whether you are a client of mine or not, don’t hesitate to contact me via email (or phone) if you need some guidance on finding out the EPC rating or need a trustworthy contractor that can help you out?

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Cardiff Homeowners Are Only Moving Every 15.5 Years (Part 2)

In the credit crunch of 2008/9 the rate of home moving plunged to its lowest level ever. In 2009 the rate at which a typical house would change hands slumped to only once every 20 years. The biggest reason being that confidence was low and many homeowners didn’t want to sell their home as Cardiff property prices plunged after the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. However, since 2009, the rate of home moving has increased (see the table and graph below), meaning today:

The average period of time between home moves in

Cardiff is now 15.5 years.

This is an increase of 30.64 per cent between the credit crunch fallout year of 2009 and today, but still it is a 38.02 per cent drop in moves by homeowners, compared to 15 years ago (The Noughties).

Average Length of Time (In Years) between Home Moves in the Cardiff City Council Area
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
19.91 15.90 13.28 15.42 14.40 12.99 10.93 9.55 10.14 10.59 13.64
 
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
10.49 11.02 20.10 20.12 20.82 20.82 21.44 18.19 14.80 15.66 15.40

So why aren’t Cardiff homeowners moving as much as they did in the Noughties?

The causes of the current state of play are numerous. In last weeks article I talked about how ‘real’ incomes and savings had been dropping. Another issue is the long-term failure in the number of properties being built. Only a few weeks ago in the blog, I was discussing the draconian planning rules meaning house builders struggle to locate building land to actually build on.

Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as a country, we were building on average 300,000 and 350,000 households a year. The Barker Review a few years ago said that for the UK to stand still and keep up with housing demand (through immigration, people living longer, a just under 50% increase in the number of households with a single person since the 1980’s and family makeup (i.e. divorce makes one household now two)) we needed to build 240,000 households a year. Over the last few years, we have only been building between 135,000 and 150,000 households a year.

Finally, as the UK Population gets older, there is no getting away from the fact that a maturing population is a less mobile one.

So, what does this mean for Cardiff homeowners and landlords?

Well, if Cardiff people are less inclined to move or find it hard to sell a property or acquire a new one, they are probably less likely to move to an improved job or a more prosperous part of the UK.

Many of the older generation in Cardiff are stuck in property that is simply too big for their needs. The fact is that, in Cardiff, nearly five out of every ten (or 48.0 per cent) owned houses has two or more spare bedrooms; or to be more exact …

40,778 of the 84,901 owned households in the Cardiff City area have two or more spare bedrooms.

So, as their children and grandchildren struggle to move up the housing ladder, with those young families bursting at the seams in homes too small for them i.e. overcrowding, we have a severe case of under-occupation with the older generation – grandparents staying put in their bigger homes, with a profusion of spare bedrooms.

Regrettably, I cannot see how the rate of properties being sold will rise any time soon. Many commentators have suggested the Government should give tax breaks to allow the older generation to downsize, yet in a recent White Paper on housing published just weeks before the General Election, there was no reference of any thoughtful and detailed policies to inspire or support them to do so.

This means that there could be an opportunity for Cardiff buy to let landlords to secure larger properties to rent out, as the demand for them will surely grow over the coming years. As for homeowners; well those in the lower and middle Cardiff market will find it a balanced sellers/buyers market, but will find it slightly more a buyers market in the upper price bands.

Interesting times ahead!

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