Tuesday, 10 July 2018

NEWS... We have SOLD our lettings division

NEWS ... NEWS... NEWS...

We have sold our lettings division to focus on property sales.

Having worked hard over the last 9 years to establish a reputation envied by many of our competitors, we have sold the lettings division of the business to Leaders Romans Group, one of the UK’s (and Stamford’s) leading lettings and property management specialists.

This has been a difficult and sometimes emotional decision to make. It was very important to me and Lottie that our clients and colleagues would continue to be looked after and that the same personal level of service and performance could be maintained by the new owner of the lettings agency. We believe this has been achieved and Leaders’ national strength, financial backing and local market knowledge will allow the company to grow and introduce new services.

We will miss working with our lettings colleagues and thank them for their hard work, support and loyal dedication over the years. Thanks to Louise Howe, Mel Close, Lucy Barnes, Sarah Howe, Martin Matthews, Eleanor Burge and Lisa Sherriff.

Moving forward, Lottie and I will continue to be proud local business owners but will now focus all of our attention in the development and growth of our sales offering local homeowners. It’s a very exciting and positive time for us. The Stamford and Rutland property market continues to expand as a result of our micro-property markets, local area regeneration, government ‘help to buy’ incentives, superb local education authority schools and a wealth of outstanding private day and boarding school alternatives that all contribute to energising property sales and boosting relocation figures.

However, we sincerely believe that a buoyant property market shouldn’t make for marketing complacency. In fact, with a strong market comes the need to offer homeowners more creative marketing solutions as they plan to sell their home or investments. We know there is a better way to sell property and we want to offer our clients something different to what’s currently available, such as advising our clients on how to make their house stand out from its competition and suggesting practical ways to help them maximise on their home’s value.

As we continue to strive forward, we know we are well supported by a strong sales team with shared values, with Janet Cottis - sales manager, Lorna Bright - sales negotiator and welcome a newcomer to the team with local Rutland resident Ben Schofield as sales valuer.

Moving on and moving UPP!




Sunday, 8 July 2018

43% Drop in Rutland Properties For Sale Compared to 10 Years Ago

There is good news for local landlords as ‘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 saving in general.  In addition, there is also a shortage of homes coming on the market thus adding to the slowdown and affecting not just first time buyers but also those moving 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 take effect), I also believe that to boost more properties onto the market, we need to see a better focus on those looking to downsize.

Incentives 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, would in turn release more mid-range properties onto the market.  In turn, this would encourage more mature homeowners to downsize and buy those mid-range properties - thus completing the circle. 

Rutland 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 Rutland property market, meaning the housing market is slowly becoming inaccessible to some.


Referring back to research for early summer 2008, at that time 168 properties were on the Rutland property market for sale, whereas today, there are only 95 properties for sale – that’s a drop of 43%.  And, in the last 6 months, only 313 Rutland homes changed hands.

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 but, 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 landlords to take up the slack. I must stress though, I have noticed a distinct ‘flight to quality’ by local tenants, who are prepared to pay more for an exceptional home to rent. 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Stamford Property Values 7.7% higher than year ago

It’s been nearly 18 months since Sajid Javid, the Conservative Housing Minister published The White Paper “Fixing the Broken UK Housing Market”, meanwhile Stamford property values continue to rise at 7.7% (year on year for the council area) and the number of new homes being constructed locally remain slow, creating a potential perfect storm for those looking to buy and sell.
The White Paper is important as it will ensure we have long-term stability and longevity in property market as a whole. Stamford homeowners and landlords need to be aware of these issues in the report to ensure they don’t lose out and ensure the local housing market is fit for purpose.  The White Paper wanted more homes to be built in the next couple of decades, so it might seem counter-intuitive for existing property owners to encourage more homes to be built and a change in the direction of housing provision – as this may have a negative effect on their own property.
 Yet the country needs a diversified and fluid property market to allow the economy as a whole to grow and flourish, which in turn will be a greater influence on whether prices increase or decrease in the long term.

The first of the four points raised was to give local authorities powers to speed up house building and ensure developers complete new homes on time.  Secondly, statutory methods demanded 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.

Looking at data from the Local Government’s Association in South Kesteven, the council is below the regional average, only spending £23.33 per person, compared the regional average of £32.05 per head – which will mean the planning department will be hard pressed to meet those targets. 
Also, 87% of planning applications are decided within the statutory 8-week initial period, below the regional average of 89% (see the graph below).  I am slightly disappointed with the numbers for our local authority when it comes to the planning and the budget allocated to this vital service.

I would agree with the government’s ambition to make more efficient use of land and avoid building homes at low densities where there is a shortage of land for meeting identified housing needs, ensuring that the density and form of development reflect the character, accessibility and infrastructure.  It’s all very good building lots of houses, but we need the infrastructure to go with it.

Talking to local homeowners 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 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.  This is where I think the White Paper failed to go as far as I feel it should have done. 



Friday, 15 June 2018

Nearly 5 Babies Born for Every New Home Built in the Past Five Years in Rutland

This discovery is an important foundation for my concerns about the future of the Rutland property market - when you consider the battle that today’s 20 and 30-somethings face in order to buy their first home and get on the property ladder. This is particularly ironic as these youngsters are being born in an age when the number of new babies born to new homes was far lower.

This will mean the babies being born now, who will become the next generation’s first-time buyers will come up against even bigger competition from a greater number of their peers unless we move to long term fixes to the housing market, instead of the short term fixes that successive governments have done since the 1980’s.

In 2016, 11.20 babies were born in Rutland for every home that had been built in the 5 years to the end of 2016 (latest data). Interestingly, that ratio nationally was 2.9 babies to every home built in the ‘50s and 2.4 in the ‘70s.  I have seen the unaudited 2017 statistics and the picture isn’t any better! (I will share those when they are released later in the year).

Our children and grandchildren will be placed in an unprecedented and unbelievably difficult position when wanting to buy their first home unless decisive action is taken. It doesn’t help that with life expectancy growing year on year, this too is also placing excessive pressure on the availability of homes to live in, with normal population growth nationally (the number of babies born less the number of people passing away) accumulative by 2 people for every 1 home that was built since the start of this decade.
Owning one’s home is a measure many Brits to aspire to. The only long-term measure that will help is the building of more new homes on a scale not seen since the 50’s and 60’s, which means we would need to aim to at least double the number of homes we build annually.

In the meantime, what does this mean for local landlords and homeowners? Well, the demand for rental properties in Stamford and Rutland in the short term will remain high and until the rate of building grows substantially, this means rents will remain strong and correspondingly, property values will remain robust.


Monday, 4 June 2018

3 Best Property Deals on this week's Stamford & Rutland Property Market


WHAT? 3 Bedroom Semi-Detached
WHERE? Coleridge Way, Oakham.  On the market with Newton Fallowell.
WHY? Modern, spacious, built over 3 floors, master bedroom en suite, garden and garage.  Strong, sought after rental property.

Price: £180,000 (OIEO)
Rent: £750pcm approx.
Annual Income: c£9,000
Yield: c5%

MORE DETAILS?  Click here...


WHAT? Renovation Project. 2 bedroom town centre terrace.
WHERE? Kings Road, Oakham.  On the market with Murray Estate Agents. 
WHY? Full renovation needed of this spacious Victorian terrace with 2 reception rooms and 1st floor bathroom, sought after location and good sized garden.

Guide Price: £139,950 
Rent:£600pcm (once renovated)
Annual Income: c£7,200
Yield: c5.1%

Property 3)

WHAT? 1 bedroom, ground floor apartment
WHERE? Keble Court, Stamford. On the market with Knight Partnership.
WHY? Fully renovated throughout, good location, ground floor with off-road parking. 

Guide Price: £90,000
Rent: £400pcm approx.
Annual Income: c£4,800
Yield: c5.3%

MORE DETAILS?  Click here...

If you are considering investing in property and would like to chat through the figures with me, please contact me.  I am happy to help.

David Crooke, Owner and MD

UPP Property, Sales & Lettings 

Stamford 01572 725 825 / Oakham 01780 484 554


Friday, 1 June 2018

How Affordable is Stamford Property for Average Working Families?

If the supply of new properties is limited and demand continues to soar, the values of existing properties will continue to remain high and stay unattainable for many.  Looking at some recent government statistics, the ratio of the lower quartile house prices to lower quartile gross annual salaries in South Kesteven District Council (SKDC) has hit 8.73 to 1. 

If we systematically ordered every property in SKDC by their value, the average value of the lower quartile properties (i.e. lowest 25%) would be £148,000. If we then did the same calculation to salaries in the same council area, the average of the lowest quartile (lowest 25%) the average salary of the lowest 25% is £16,958 pa, thus dividing one with the other, we get the ratio of 8.73 to 1.

Assuming there is one wage earner in the house, the chances of a Stamford working family being able to afford to buy their own home (when it’s over 8 times their annual salary), is very slim indeed. The current affordability crisis is the unavoidable outcome of the accumulative effect in the failure to build enough homes to keep up with demand. Nevertheless, improving affordability is not a case of just constructing more homes. The council needs to ensure more properties are not only built, but built in the right locations, of the right type and at the right price to ensure the needs of these lower income working families are met, because at the moment, they presently have few options apart from the private rental sector.

Looking at historical data of the ratio, it can be seen that this has been an issue since the early 90’s to mid 2000’s. However, those on the bottom rung of the ladder (in the lower quartile of wage earners) used to be housed by the local authority. However, the vast majority of council houses were sold off in the 1980’s meaning there are much fewer council houses today to house this generation.

Many of the lower quartile working class families were given a lifeline to buy their own homes in middle 2000’s with 100% mortgages, but the 2009 credit crunch ended that opportunity. It is cheaper to buy than to rent, but securing the 5% deposit is the biggest challenge. Unless the government allows 100% mortgages again, demand for rental properties will continue to outstrip supply.

Long term, I suggest local communities hold their local politicians to account to ensure the affordability of housing and the extent to which they work with private developers and housing associations. In addition, they must be encouraged to use the planning tools at their disposal in safeguarding the local community, thereby effectively realising the required level of new households. SKDC could designate certain parcels of residential building land for private rented development only, eliminating the opportunity of the land being bought to develop large executive homes, which does not solve the current problem.

Short term, demand for rental properties will continue to grow, keeping house prices high and rents high.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

106 Local Landlords Plan to Expand Their Buy-to-let Portfolios

A noteworthy number of British buy-to-let landlords plan to buy more properties over the next year notwithstanding the frustrations, challenges and seismic changes in the private rented sector.  According to the specialist buy-to-let lender ‘Aldermore’, their research shows around 41% of portfolio buy-to-let landlords' objectives are to GROW their portfolio.

Talking to the local landlords I deal with, most are feeling quite optimistic about the future of the Oakham rental market and the prospect it presents because they still see the Stamford and Rutland rental market as a decent investment opportunity.

With top of the range bank and building society savings accounts only reaching 1.5% a year, the rollercoaster ride of ‘crypto currency’ and the fluctuations of the stock market, the simple fact is, with rental yields in Oakham far outstripping current savings rates, the short term prospect of a minor drop in property prices isn’t putting off local landlords.

The art to buying an investment property is to buy the profit on the purchase price, not the anticipation of the future sale price.

No matter what the historical economy has thrown at us, with the global meltdown in 2008/9, dotcom crash of 2000, ERM in 1992, the 3 day week, oil crisis and hyperinflation in the 1970’s etc., the housing market has always bounced back stronger in the long term. That’s the point - long term.  Investing in buy-to-let is a long-term strategy. Over the long term with the increasing demand for rental properties, predominantly among Millennials as many cannot afford to get on the property ladder, and with councils not building enough properties of any kind, many youngsters are having to resort the private rental market for their accommodation needs.

There are 118 landlords that own just 1 buy-to-let (BTL) property in Oakham and 258 Oakham landlords who are 'portfolio landlords'.  Between those 258 Oakham portfolio BTL landlords, they own a total of 541 Oakham BTL properties.

Applying the Aldermore figures means 106 landlords have plans to expand their Oakham BTL portfolio in the coming year or so.  However, the Aldermore Research also showed that 8% of private landlords intended to reduce the number of properties they own.  Attributing their reasons to continuing government intervention in the housing market (as many landlords mentioned too many limitations and higher taxation), while some believed that tenants are excessively protected to the detriment of the landlord.

I would say there is no repudiating that the buy-to-let market has taken a bit of a beating, yet there still remains an overall consciousness of optimism among the vast majority of local buy-to-let landlords. Despite these latest changes, many landlords still view buy-to-let as a good investment, as long as you buy right and expand your portfolio taking into account the second rule of buy-to-let … assess your position on the ‘buy-to-let seesaw’ of capital growth and yield.

If you want to buy right and assess your own portfolio drop me a note.  I don’t bite and the opinion I give, whether you are landlord of mine or not as the case may be, is given freely, without obligation or cost.


Monday, 21 May 2018

Extra Funding Required for Local Affordable Homes

Previously on my Stamford and Rutland property market blog I have written about a crisis in the supply of property (i.e. not enough property being built), but this time it’s the matter of affordability and the equilibrium of tenure (ownership vs rented) and therein, the affordability of housing. 
An efficient and effectual housing market is in everyone’s interests, including homeowners and landlords.

The requirement for the provision of subsidised housing has been recognised since Victorian times.  Even though private rents have not kept up with inflation since 2005 (meaning tenants are better off), it’s still a fact there are substantial numbers of low-income households in Stamford devoid of the money to allow them a decent standard of housing.

 Usually, property in the social housing sector has had rents set at around half the going market rate and affordable shared home ownership has been the main source of new affordable housing yet, irrespective of the tenure, the local authority is simply not coming up with the numbers required.  If the local authority isn’t building or finding these affordable homes, these Stamford tenants still need housing, and some tenants at the lower end of the market are falling foul of rogue landlords.  Not good news for tenants and the vast majority of law abiding and decent landlords who are tarnished by the actions of a few, especially as I believe everyone has the right to a safe and decent home.

 Be it the Tories, Labour, SNP, Lib Dems, Greens etc, everyone needs to put party politics aside and start building enough affordable homes. Even though 2017 was one of the best years for new home building in the last decade (217,000 home built in 2017) overall new home building has been in decline for many years from the heady days of the early 1970s, when an average of 350,000 new homes were being built a year.  

 We simply aren’t building enough ‘affordable’ homes in the area.  In fact, an average of only 163 ‘affordable homes’ per year have been built by South Kesteven District Council over the last 9 years.  The blame cannot all be placed at the feet of the local authority as council budgets nationally are 26% lower than they have been since 2010, according to 'Full-Fact'.

 An undersupply of affordable homes will artificially keep rents and property prices high. That might sound good in the short term, but a large proportion of my landlords find their children are also priced out of the local housing market. 

 Also, whilst your Stamford home might be slightly higher in value, due to this lack of supply of homes at the bottom end of the market, as most people move up the market when they do move, the one you want to buy will be priced even higher.  Problems at the lower end of the property market will affect the middle and upper parts.  It is all interlinked - it’s not called the ‘Property Ladder’ for nothing!


3 Great Property Deals on this week's Stamford & Rutland Property Market

I keep an eye on the Stamford and Rutland property market because it enables me to give the best advice and opinion on what (OR NOT!) to buy in the area, be that a buy-to-let or for a first time buyer/owner occupier.
With strong demand for family sized rental properties in Oakham continuing I have selected 2 from the Oakham property market and, because of its great yield of c5.1%, I think this ground floor studio apartment in Stamford is well worth investigating further...
WHAT? 3 bedroom semi-detached, on the market with Moores Estate Agents
WHERE? Westfield Avenue, Oakham
WHY? 2 good sized reception rooms, 3 bedrooms, large garden, chain free

Guide Price: Offers Over £195,000
Rent: £650pcm
Annual Income: c£7,800
Yield: c4.3%

MORE DETAILS?  Click here...

WHAT? 3 bedroom terraced house, on the market with Newton Fallowell
WHERE? Parkfield Road, Oakham
WHY? Modern bathroom, popular location near railway station, college and town centre, good sized rear garden.

Guide Price: £159,950
Annual Income: c£7,200
Yield: c4.5%
 Property 3)
WHAT? 1 bedroom studio apartment, on the market with Sowden Wallis
WHERE? Philips Court, Stamford
WHY? Ground floor studio, great central location within minutes' from railway station and town centre, chain free.

Guide Price: £109,995
Rent: £475pm
Annual Income: c£5,700
Yield: c5.1%

MORE DETAILS?  Click here...

If you are considering investing in property and would like to chat through the figures with me, please contact me.  I am happy to help.

David Crooke, Owner and MD

UPP Property, Sales & Lettings 

Stamford 01572 725 825 / Oakham 01780 484 554