Doncaster Property Blog » December 2019

Monthly Archives: December 2019

Doncaster Property News

The £2.8 billion mortgage debt of Doncaster homeowners

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Irrespective of the shenanigans and political goings on in Westminster recently, the housing market (for the time being anyway) shows a striking resilience, fostered by the on-going wide-ranging monetary policy by the Bank of England. With interest rates and unemployment low, UKplc is heading into 2020 in reasonable condition.  Additionally, despite the UK’s new homes industry improving its year on year new build figures (building 173,660 new homes this year to date – notably 8% more new homes than at the same time last year), there has been an unequal increase in demand for housing, especially in the most thriving areas of the Country.

With the discussion on whether the younger generation can afford to buy, it is true the average cost of a UK property in the early 1970’s was 3.8 times the average salary yet, nationally, it now stands at 8.4 times. On the face of it that doesn’t look good in anyone’s books – yet that isn’t the full story because it doesn’t reflect inflation and interest rates when it comes to the cost of borrowing money in relation to a mortgage for property.

The current level of mortgage interest rates has not been seen for many generations, meaning there are whole cohorts of the Doncaster home-owning population who have no appreciation of the pandemonium that will eat into their household budgets should we ever return to the average historical cost of borrowing (interest rates jumped to 15% in 1992 – which wasn’t that long ago and between 2003 and 2007 they were on average 4.9%).

Now, once first-time buyers have jumped the hurdle of saving enough for a 5% deposit, which is hard with rents and many carrying loans of personal debt (unsecured loans), first-time buyers are currently spending an average one sixth of their salary on their mortgage, meaning mortgage arrears are at historical lows. However, on the other side of the coin repossessions have started to grow, with 6,180 repossession orders made in the last quarter, a 55% jump from 2017, yet nowhere near the 2009 high of 29,145 in the first quarter of 2009.

Therefore, this week’s discussion on the Doncaster property market is – where are we with lending (mortgages and unsecured loans) and how is it affecting the Doncaster, and national, property market?

One vital measure of the property market (and economy) is the mortgage market. If all the mortgages were added up, they would total £968.1bn; a lot when you consider the UK’s GDP is only £2,190.1bn. Mortgages are important as uncertainty causes building societies and banks to curtail lending (remember what happened in the Credit Crunch) and that seriously affects property prices. Then we have unsecured personal loans; interestingly the average Brit owes £991.42 in unsecured loans, a total of £36.1bn.

Lending is the lifeblood of our economy. Go back to 2007, and the phrase ‘Credit Crunch’ hadn’t been invented, yet now the term has entered our everyday language. In the autumn of 2007 it took a couple months before the crunch began to affect the Doncaster property market, but in early 2008, and for the following year and half, Doncaster property values dropped each month like a stone.

Mercifully, after a phase of sluggishness, in 2011 the Doncaster property market started to recover slowly as certitude returned to the economy as a whole and in 2013 Doncaster property values started to rise as the economy sped upwards. Happily, the Bank of England recognised the start of another boom and bust cycle, so in Spring of 2015, new rules for mortgage lending were introduced and for the following few years we have seen a reappearance to more credible and steady medium-term property price growth.

Doncaster Property Values are 14.3% higher since the Credit Crunch

And what of the other side of the coin in terms of excess lending in Doncaster?

Since 1977, the average Bank of England interest rate has been 6.65%, making the current low rate of 0.75% very low indeed. Yet the issue isn’t the amount of lending, as much as the persons ability to pay. Therefore, whether a person’s mortgage is fixed or not is more important than the amount owed.

Thankfully, the proportion of borrowers fixing their mortgage rate has gone from 31.5% in the autumn of 2012 to the current 70.2%. If you haven’t fixed your mortgage – maybe you should follow the majority?

The total cost of mortgages owed by people in Doncaster is £2,895,090,334

(Based on the DN1 – DN12 postcodes)

In my modest opinion, if things do get a little rocky and uncertainty seeps back in the coming years (and nobody knows what will happen on that front), interest rates can only go one way from their current ultra low level of 0.75% ….and that is why I consider it important to highlight this to all the homeowners and landlords of Doncaster. Maybe, just maybe, you might want to consider taking some advice from one of the many qualified mortgage advisors in Doncaster?

Doncaster Property News

37,010 People Live in Rented Accommodation in Doncaster

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That number surprised you didn’t it? With the General Election done, I thought it time to reflect on renting in the manifestos and party-political broadcasts and ask why?

As the best way to tell the future is to look at to the past, so we decided to look at the number of people who rented a century ago (1920’s), and surprisingly 76% of people rented their home in the UK (as renting then was considered the norm). Yet in the latter part of the 1920’s, builders of the suburban housing estates with their bay fronted semis started to sell the dream of home ownership to smart renters.

Up until the mid 1920’s, the mortgage had been seen as a millstone around your neck. Now, due to some clever marketing by those same builders, it was started to be seen as a shrewd long-term investment to buy your own home with a mortgage. It fuelled the ambitions and goals of the up and coming well-to-do working class who reclassed themselves as lower-middle class. Meanwhile, the Government encouraged (through tax breaks) people to save in Building Societies whom in turn lent the money to these up and coming new homeowners thorough mortgages.

Roll the clock forward to the decade of the young Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Bill Haley (1950’s) and still 72% of Brits rented their home. Homeownership had boomed in the preceding 30 years, yet so had council house building. Then, as we entered the 1960’s and 1970’s homeownership started to grow at a higher rate than council housing.

The rate of homeownership started to drop substantially after the mid 1990’s, and now we roll the clock forward to today, there is no stigma at all to renting … everyone is doing it. In fact, of the…

108,215 residents of Doncaster, 37,010 of you rent your house

from either the council, housing association or private landlords – meaning 34.2% of Doncaster people are tenants. Yet read the Daily Mail, and you would think the idea of homeownership is deeply embedded in the British soul?

69,518 Doncaster people live in an owner-occupied property

(or 64.2%)

So, we have a paradox – homeowners or renters? The reason I suggest this, is, I noticed on the run up to the Election that housing was used at the General Election as way to get votes. This is nothing new, as all parties have always used housing to get votes, although previously it was about which party would build more council houses in the 1950’s through to council Right to Buy with Thatcher (and everyone since) – running election campaigns promising everybody their own home in one way or another.

Yet, did you notice at this election something changed? The parties weren’t talking so much about increasing homeownership but about protecting the tenant. It seems the link between homeownership as the main goal of British life is starting to change as we are slowly turning to a more European way of living. Renting is here to stay in Doncaster and incrementally growing year on year. You see, in Britain there is no property tax based on ownership, which many other western countries have. Instead Council Tax is paid by the occupier of the home (meaning the tenant pays – not necessarily the owner).

Both parties wanted to end no-fault evictions (which is a good thing), yet Labour went further and mentioned rent controls in their manifesto. As I have mentioned before in other articles on the Doncaster property market, rents since 2008 (even in central London) have not kept up with inflation – so again was that another headline to grab votes/election bribe? The fact is the majority of new British households formed since the Millennium can now expect to rent from a private landlord for life – therefore the parties focus on this important demographic.

Yet even with the new mortgage relief tax rules for landlords and the 200+ of legislation that govern the private rental sector, buy to let is still a viable investment option for most investors in Doncaster. There has never been a better time to purchase buy to let property in Doncaster … but buy wisely. Gone are the days when you would make a profit on anything with four walls and a roof. Most importantly do your homework, take advice and consider your options.

Doncaster Property News

Labour Party’s U-turn on the £269,988,910 grab on Doncaster landlord’s wallets

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Well, with the General Election just over the horizon and having been asked by a number of Doncaster homeowners and Doncaster buy to let landlords what the different main parties would do to the local property market, in this week’s article we focus on Labour’s contentious Right to Buy proposal for private tenants. Launched in September, the plan was designed to force landlords to sell their buy to let investments to their tenants who wished to buy them…. at a substantial discount.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the FT in September that, under a new Labour government, tenants would be given the Right to Buy their tenanted home with a hefty discount – just like the Tory Right to Buy policy for Council house renters that came into force after the 1979 General Election.

Yet it was not certain who would have been expected to pay for discounts on buy to let homes sold to tenants. Four years ago, Jeremy Corbyn advocated using the £14bn of tax allowances that UK landlords had at the time to pay for these discounts, allowing tenants to buy their tenanted home at the same discount as they would a local authority home without leaving the landlord out of pocket.

However, these tax allowances have been substantially reduced with the changes in the way mortgage interest relief on landlords’ mortgages is calculated, meaning that this method of funding would no longer be feasible. In fact, bankrolling a project at a modest 20% discount for the whole of the UK would cost £177.84bn; a lot more than the £14billion quoted by Mr Corbyn. So, what would that policy cost Doncaster landlords?

Labours policy of 20% Right to Buy discount could

cost Doncaster landlords £269,988,910

 … and if Doncaster tenants got the maximum discount of 35% that Council tenants have with the Right to Buy scheme that would cost Doncaster landlords £472,480,590

However, it appears Mr McDonnell has re-considered the original suggestion and done a (slight) U-turn, stating it should apply only to the richest landlords and not those who only own a couple of rental properties. He was quoted in The Times as saying, “There’s a large number of individuals or families who have bought another property as an asset for the future and we wouldn’t want to endanger that”.

Yet, even this somewhat watered-down account still creates threats to the private rental sector and Doncaster’s overall stock of private rented homes. John McDonnell seems to have altered his initial thought to permit all private tenants the right to buy from their landlords to apply only to those with more than a couple of buy to let properties. The shift appears to be aimed at pacifying middle England small time landlords who are probably swing voters with smaller property investments and instead, Labour’s focus is on the larger scale buy to let investors. Looking at the stats, and being generous that we are only looking at landlords with 6 or more (not the couple that Mr McConnell suggested) ……

Of the 8,419 rental properties in Doncaster, 2,298 are owned by Doncaster landlords with 6 or more properties in their portfolio

To target these larger scale landlords, who would unquestionably leave the property market in their hordes if their buy to let investments could be so easily destabilised. There would be mass sell offs before the legislation became law, thus making the tenants homeless (and who would house them??) ..and even if that didn’t happen, it would be very damaging and someone (probably landlords) would have to stump up the £48.54bn national bill (£73,694,560 in Doncaster alone).

If Labour want to fix the property market, it needs long term certainty and confidence, yet even these revised policies would instantly challenge this

And don’t think I am just Labour bashing here as the Tory 2014 Help to Buy scheme hasn’t really helped either as their scheme which gave first time buyers (FTB) a 20% interest free loan, if they put down a 5% deposit, has been a boon for new home builders.

The Tory’s announced recently another £10bn of taxpayer’s money will be pumped into a scheme which, quite frankly, wasn’t needed to boost an already decent property market. The banks were already giving 95% first time buyer (FTB) mortgages from 2010 and the Help to Buy scheme was only allowed on new homes purchases, meaning it didn’t help the larger second-hand market. That £10bn could have been better spent building Council houses, not helping the large plc builders line their pockets with Government cash.