I was having an interesting chat the other day with a couple of solicitors at a Northampton business networking event, when the subject of a lack of property for first time buyers came into the conversation. I followed the chat up with an email with my findings, findings that I would like to share with you today;
At the time of the last census in 2011, 3,401,675 properties in England were privately rented, of which it is estimated, over 1.25 million were owned by private landlords. The rapid growth of buy-to-let is hugely controversial, especially as only ten years before that, there were only 1,798,864 properties under private renting in England. Buy to let landlords have been held responsible for forcing up property prices and preventing our younger generations from being able to buy. There is also growing resentment toward the billions of pounds in tax relief (estimated to be nearly £10 billion) landlords claim on their mortgage interest -tax relief which is not available to homeowners.
They may be asset rich thanks to recently rising property values, but let us not make the landlords the bogiemen they could easily be. Despite all these benefits enjoyed by private landlords, let us not forget the good they have done, especially in Northampton.
Property values today in Northampton are still 6.2% below the 2007 property boom levels (2007 being the peak of last property boom before everything dropped in 2008/9), yet inflation has risen by 26% in the same time frame, so in real terms, properties today are 32.2% CHEAPER than they were in 2007. Just think how low they would be without landlords buying all those rental properties in the Town. Interest rates are at an all time low and first time buyers only need to save a £5,800 deposit to secure a lovely 2 bed semi in the Crestwood Gardens with a 95% mortgage. Forget what the papers say, first time buyers can borrow money relatively easily on a 95% mortgage and nine times out of ten, it’s cheaper to buy than rent. So why aren’t people buying?
The number of people choosing to rent, either for lifestyle or economic reasons, has grown over the last 15 years. I also believe they will continue to grow for some time to come (as does every report on the subject). In fact I would go as far to predict the number of rental properties in Northampton will have risen from the 14,657 properties recorded in 2011 to 24,800 by 2021. Sounds fanciful? Well in 2001, there were only 5,663 privately rented properties in Northampton.
It is a fact that we as a Country are more and more turning into a European model when it comes to homeownership, where the norm is renting for the first ten years, as opposed to the norm from the 1960’s to 1990’s, where first time buyers were encouraged to buy as soon as they got a job.
Tenants, in particular, will also feel the benefit from potential changes in the market. The likelihood of interest rate increases in late 2015, existing economic conditions, combined with the uncertainty of new Government manifestos following the General Election in May will result in low demand for people to buy yet also put a dampening effect on increases in rent. As long as landlords buy the right sort of property, that allows for a reasonable yield and decent capital growth, everyone will be a winner. If you want to have a chat about what would make the best sort of property in Northampton, then please email me on Northampton@northwooduk.com.