As Unemployment Hits 7.6% in Peterborough, What Effect Will This Have on the Peterborough Property Market in 2021?

12 months ago, the unemployment rate in Peterborough stood at 3.4% of the working population, yet with Coronavirus hitting the UK, what impact will this rise in unemployment have on the Peterborough property market?

As I have discussed a number of times in my articles on the Peterborough property market, this summer saw the Peterborough property market do exactly the opposite of what was expected when Covid hit.

The Stamp Duty holiday added fuel to pent up demand for people to move to property with extra rooms (to work from home) and gardens. This prompted a brief hiatus in the number of people selling and buying their home in Peterborough over the last summer and autumn.

Yet, insecurity around rising unemployment, led to many mortgage companies becoming more cautious in the later months of summer, predominantly when lending to the self-employed or first-time buyers borrowing more than 85% of the value of the home (as they wouldn’t want to lend money to someone that could not afford a mortgage due to an insecure income or not having a job).

Back in the late spring, economists were predicting that UK unemployment would rise to a peak of 6.5% in Q3 2020, returning back to the 2019 levels (3.4%) by 2022.

As we speak (Christmas 2020), nationally the unemployment rate stands at 6.3%. The toll Covid has had on people’s livelihoods has been massive, with an additional 1,434,515 people out of work, although it is important to note this unemployment rate is still lower than the five years following the Credit Crunch years – 2008 to 2013.

So, with such a growth in unemployment and the spectre of a ‘No Deal Brexit’, this may hold back the enthusiasm of many companies to take on more staff, reducing any rebound in employment. If unemployment remains high, this will influence perceptions of employment and personal/household financial security, which are the ultimate drivers for both house prices and whether people buy and sell.

4,275 Peterborough people were unemployed a year ago and today that stands at 9,475.

Looking at all the study papers on the topic, there is a link between unemployment and house prices, yet it’s not as strong as you would think. The larger factors are the demand and supply of property on the market and interest rates. Interestingly, in the past two recessions, the comparatively richer regions of London and South East house prices have been more sensitive to unemployment and house price changes than the rest of the UK, yet London and the South East also bounced back quicker and higher after the two recessions. 

The concept behind this is that more expensive house prices in the South drop more than lower priced houses in the rest of the UK. Why? Because those more expensive regions have, by definition, more expensive house prices meaning the homeowners have higher mortgages, so if they become unemployed, their homes are more likely to be repossessed (because of the high mortgages), and consequently that reduces house prices in that area quicker because repossessed houses tend to sell much more cheaply compared to normal house sales.

The health of the Peterborough property market in 2021 and beyond really depends on what happens to the economy as a whole and more specifically what is happening in the Peterborough economy.

When we drill down though, unemployment has hit different sectors of the economy to a lesser or greater extent. For example, for office workers, people who work in tech & sciences and the professional services, the impact on jobs has been comparatively mild, with many personnel able to work from home. Yet for others, such as those who work in the hospitality, leisure, retail, entertainment and catering industry, remote working is simply not an option, and these have been hit the hardest.

Unfortunately, the industries mentioned above are the ones that tend to employ the younger generation, who invariably live in private rented accommodation, rather than own their own home. Being made redundant puts their dream of buying their first home back even further as they try and get themselves back on their feet by initially finding a job (let alone save for a deposit).

Housing markets will recover quickest in towns and cities, where jobs are in more resilient employment sectors.

For example, in London, unemployment jumped really quickly (and high) in 2009 with the Credit Crunch, yet came down just as quick in 2011, just as the property market in London started to take off, whilst in Peterborough, it took a lot longer for unemployment to drop and the Peterborough property market didn’t really start to get going until 2013.

If we have a determined economic contraction, with a lengthier and leisurely economic recovery, impeded by financial stress, that will lead to much higher unemployment in the 10% to 12% range in the summer of 2021. However, before I get to the initial question, I need to highlight another interesting fact, because…

What is particularly interesting is the increase in unemployment in Peterborough amongst men has been higher than women, with a growth of 5.0 percentage points for men compared to 3.3 percentage points with women.

So, what is the prediction for the Peterborough property market under the cloud of this growth in unemployment?

One massive redeeming factor that could just save the Peterborough property market is low interest rates. This will keep mortgage payments low, meaning repossessions should be kept to a minimum (therefore, there shouldn’t be a flood of cheaply priced Peterborough properties coming onto the market all at the same time and dragging Peterborough house prices down with it, as it did in the previous two recessions of 2009 and 1989).  

Yet, irrespective of the ultra-low interest rates, I still consider property prices in Peterborough at Christmas 2021 won’t be much different from today, and in fact could be slightly lower.

This is because people have been paying top dollar in the last six months to secure their dream Peterborough home, quite often spending the money they saved on Stamp Duty on the purchase price. When Stamp Duty Tax returns in April 2021, there will be less money to pay for the property … thus Peterborough property values will be, by implication, lower in a year’s time.

What about Peterborough landlords and the rents?

Nationally, rents fell just over 2.3% between 2008 and 2010, following the Credit Crunch, while national house prices fell 15.9%. I anticipate Peterborough rents will also remain comparatively robust in the coming months and years.

Rents are very much tied to the rise and fall of wage growth and I can’t see why this relationship shouldn’t continue. Rents will rise in Peterborough by between 13% and 15% in the next five years, yet if property prices do rise in 2023/24, that means future rental yields will be marginally lower in 2023/4 comparative to today, especially as ultra-low interest rate expectations (according to the money markets) seem to be here to stay for a long time.

Therefore, something tells me there could be some interesting Peterborough buy-to-let investment opportunities for Peterborough investors willing to play the Peterborough buy-to-Let market for the long term.

To conclude, these are just my personal opinions. If you are a Peterborough landlord looking for advice and an opinion on what to buy to maximise your returns, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you are a Peterborough homeowner, looking to buy or sell and need any advice or an opinion on where the market is and where your Peterborough home sits in the bigger Peterborough property market picture – again feel free to drop me a line. 

No Deal Brexit – The Prediction For Peterborough House Prices

Roll the clock back to April 2020, and major financial economists and property market commenters were sounding the alarm. The very best-case scenario was a 5% drop in property values by the end of the year, and most were in the 10% to 15% range. They forewarned the Covid-19 stimulated recession would trim tens of thousands of pounds off the value of Peterborough homes.

Yet the Peterborough property market seemed not to get the memo on that, and now as we find ourselves at the end of 2020 and the worst of lockdown restrictions appear to be passed, vaccinations on the way and economy starting to grow, Peterborough property prices seem to be doing quite well.

What happened to the Peterborough house price crash that wasn’t?

Before I answer that, it reminded me of what the Treasury said in 2016 about a leave vote on the Brexit referendum. The considered opinion of the Treasury was house prices would drop by 18% if the Country voted to leave the EU, so let us see what that would have done to Peterborough house prices if that had taken place and then what exactly has happened in the last four and half years …

 Average Value
2016
Predicted Drop By The Treasury because
of Brexit
Average Value
Today
Uplift in Value
in Last 4.5 Years
% Increase Since
Brexit Vote
Peterborough
Detached
£282,400£231,600£313,500£31,10012.0%
Peterborough
Semi
£179,000£146,800£196,900£17,9009.0%
Peterborough
Terraced/ Town House
£145,200£119,100£155,700£10,5008.2%
Peterborough
Apartments
£108,100£88,600£120,300£12,20010.3%

So why has the Peterborough property market not matched the

property pundits twice in the last five years or so?

Well for most of us, owning a property is about having somewhere to live rather than an investment (an Englishman’s home is his castle??). Nevertheless, once a homeowner is on the proverbial ‘property ladder’, it cannot be denied that it is eternally beneficial to know, as a homeowner, that you have made a healthy investment in your home and that the value will rise to alleviate the ache of trading up market — or down market when you retire.

Those Peterborough homeowners who own detached homes would have made an average of £31,100 profit, a rise of 12.0% or a weekly profit of £119.62 — calculated between the price they would have paid in the summer of 2016 and the price they would sell for today. Looking at the weekly profit for all property types in Peterborough since the Brexit vote …

  1. Peterborough detached homes weekly profit of £119.62 per week
  2. Peterborough semi-detached homes weekly profit of £68.85 per week
  3. Peterborough terraced homes/town houses weekly profit of £40.38 per week
  4. Peterborough apartments weekly profit of £46.92 per week

Whilst it is no surprise the property market boom was inspired by the Chancellor’s Stamp Duty holiday, this is not exclusively the Chancellor’s achievement. The three ‘D’s have been with us throughout 2020, Covid or no Covid (Debt, Divorce and Death), together with a huge shift in the way Peterborough homeowners see their homes.  With us cooped up during the lockdown and working from our dining room tables, the want and need of Peterborough people to have a home with an extra bedroom to work from, together with a garden, has been one of the most challenging this year… hence the rise in demand.

So, what of 2021? It’s true that the country will have high unemployment, yet at the same time, we have ultra-low interest rates and for the last 20 years, on average we have only built 150,000 households per year as a nation, but needed 300,000 per year to keep up with immigration, people living longer and changes in the way households are made up (compared to the Millennium).

Many people can predict what will happen – yet none of us really know what will actually happen to the Peterborough property market in 2021.

Covid was a black swan event and the fallout from that, I believe, has changed Peterborough peoples’ lives and their lifestyles, especially how they see their home. Instead of making predictions, nothing can get away from property market fundamentals, which have driven price booms on the back of high demand for homes and low supply (i.e. properties coming onto the market) and price crashes on the back of over-supply and low demand. Only time will tell if, in 2021, the Peterborough property market will see a flood of properties coming to the market because of debt or the demand for larger homes continues to rise unabated.

Please let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Will the Peterborough Property Market Crash in 2021?

… and the three reasons why it will not be the catastrophic scenario some are predicting

In the last few months, the Peterborough (and UK) property market has resisted and flouted every economist’s prediction. With the economy a shadow of its former self, unemployment set to hit 11.9%, the Government on track to borrow nearly half a trillion pounds to pay for Coronavirus support packages etc., all of this has had no effect on Peterborough homeowner’s enthusiasm or capability to want to move home. It highlights the influence of both the emotional impact of lockdown and the enticing appeal of saving thousands of pounds on your Stamp Duty Tax bill.

For the last few months, the Peterborough property market has been akin to a surfer, riding an unexpectedly large wave. The question is, will the surfer crash down (i.e. the property market) onto the rocks or will it calmly arrive at the beach unscathed? Well looking at house prices firstly…

UK house prices are 4.7% higher than they were 12 months ago according to the Land Registry, whilst in Peterborough they are 1.9% lower

Looking at the data over the country, things overall are looking good for property prices. Yet it must be remembered the Land Registry data is on completed house sales and is always a couple of months behind, so this data is for house sales up to September that were agreed in the spring. Also, it does not take into account the prices being paid today on Peterborough homes (as they will only show in statistics the Spring and Summer of 2021 when the sale completes).

Peterborough house prices will inevitably ease in 2021

Anecdotal evidence over the last few months has suggested buyers are using their Stamp Duty savings on the price they are prepared to pay for the Peterborough home of their dreams, so when the Stamp Duty holiday finishes in Spring 2021, we will see a reduction in the price Peterborough properties sell for, as buyers will now have to hold back some of their cash to pay the Stamp Duty tax.

Mortgage approvals at a 13 year high

A better statistic to judge the property market is by the number of mortgage approvals. As the vast majority of house buyers need a mortgage, that is another good place to look at the numbers as they are much more up to date than the Land Registry figures. The Bank of England recently stated 97,500 mortgages were approved last month, up from the long-term average of just over 65,400 per month. This was the highest number of mortgage approvals since September 2007, and a whole third higher than mortgage approvals in February 2020 when we had the Boris Bounce in the property market.

As a country, we are due to smash through 2019’s 524,000 total number of mortgage approvals this month, despite the fact that the property market was closed for nearly three months in the spring. It’s vital to remember, that mortgage approvals do not equate to people moving home, as many of you reading this can attest to … property sales do fall through.

I do have apprehensions that many Peterborough people, buying and selling their Peterborough homes and in a chain, may not be able to realise the move before the Stamp Duty rules change at the end of March 2021, as there is a massive backlog with mortgage lenders, local authorities’ and the searches, chartered surveyors surveying the property and solicitors with the legal work, all combining to slow down the house selling and buying machine.

If you are in chain at the moment, you must constantly be talking to all the parties involved and ensuring everything is focused on getting the sale complete by the end of March. You have a responsibility to get information requested back in hours, not weeks … because if you don’t, you might not get your Peterborough home move through before the end of the Stamp Duty holiday, and without that discount, someone in your chain may pull out of the sale altogether and the chain will break. 

The number of people moving home in Peterborough is anticipated to drop sharply after the Stamp Duty holiday ends at the end of March 2021

And that is probably going to be the biggest impact on the Peterborough property market in 2021. Yes, there will be a slight readjustment in the prices paid after March 2021 (as mentioned above) yet, a reduction in the number of people selling their Peterborough home does not inevitably lead to a house price crash.

Yes, there will be a number of people who have to sell in 2021 because they have lost their jobs (i.e. ‘forced sales’). In the last two ‘Property Market Crashes’ of 1988 and 2008, there were a large number of forced sales in a short period of time (because business owners had to sell their home as their business had gone bankrupt because of the Credit Crunch, as well as people who had lost their job), increasing the supply of properties coming to the market in 1988 and 2008.

This in turn pushed Peterborough house prices down as the property market was flooded with lots of property to sell in a short period of time. Yet this time, we have had the cushion/parachute of Bounce Back Loans, Furlough and Mortgage Holidays over the last 9 months.

Also, another important factor about the last property market crashes were the levels of interest rates and the amount borrowed.  

Interest rates are the key to the future of the Peterborough property market

In 1988, mortgage interest rates were an eye watering 11.5% and 6% in 2008, meaning mortgages were much more expensive compared to the 0.1% rate we have today. Also, with 77.2% of mortgagees with fixed rate mortgages, and only 1 in 21 mortgages owing more than 90% of the value of their home (and 1 in 303 mortgagees owing more than 95% of the value of their home), negative equity should not be so much an issue like it was in 1988.

This means most Peterborough homeowners are in a much better place to weather the storm of 2021, than they were in 1988 and 2008

I foresee many Peterborough sellers will simply wait until activity in the Peterborough property market picks up again before placing their property on to the market. This means fewer properties will be placed onto the market for sale in the later part of 2021, meaning Peterborough house prices will tend to hold up. The people that will be affected by less properties coming onto the market will be estate agents, solicitors and home removals people.

I also believe there will be ‘interesting investment opportunities’ to be had for Peterborough buy to let in the latter half of 2021 with the potential changes in Capital Gains Tax regulations, although those won’t go on the open market, so do keep your ear to the ground and build relationships with all the letting agents in Peterborough so you get to hear of the property portfolios coming up for sale (as they tend to sell ‘off market’). Again, if that’s something that interests you – do drop me a line.

So, where is the Peterborough property market heading in 2021?

Well, the Peterborough property market (aka our “surfer”) has seen house price growth of 46.2% since 2009 … and this has been fuelled on the back of…

  1. Ultra-low interest rates mean money is cheap to borrow and so mortgage payments are low. With the Bank of England pumping £150bn into the economy in November with Quantitative Easing (QE) to add to the £725bn they already spent on QE since 2009 – interest rates will continue to stay low for some time.
  2. There has been an increase in the demand for housing with annual net migration of 214,400 since 2009 (meaning 96,700 additional households per year have been required since 2009 just to house those people – a total of 1,063,700 households).
  3. The average age of death has risen by 2.1 years since 2008 in the UK. People living longer, delays property from being released back onto the property ladder. For every extra year of life the average Brit lives, an extra 290,850 households are required in the UK.

None of these things have changed because of Covid.

As a country, we have only built on average 165,100 homes a year since 2009. Supply and demand show that whilst we will probably have a turbulent choppy ride on the 2021 wave (because of the economy) our surfer (aka the property market), with long term demand for housing outstripping supply since the 1980’s, will continue to ride the wave (probably not as large as it has been in 2020) as the ultimate long-term outlook for the property market in Peterborough looks good.

All this means demand for decent, private rented Peterborough property will be good as long as the property ticks all the boxes of the tenants. If you are a Peterborough landlord, whether you are a client of mine or not, feel free to drop me a line to pick my brain on the future of the buy to let market in Peterborough.

Peterborough Landlords and Second Homeowners Will Probably Save Money from the Proposed New Capital Gains Tax changes

If the proposals were adopted in full, some Peterborough landlords would pay £8,000 less Capital Gains Tax than they would currently

The government borrowed £394bn this financial year (April ‘20 to April ‘21). This figure does not include the cost of November lockdowns and support measures, which means the final bill will probably be over half a trillion pounds. Ultimately these billions will need to be paid back to cover the cost of Coronavirus.

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) published a report for tax reform and, as was predicted by many in the press, the Government Dept suggested the Chancellor contemplate readjusting current Capital Gains Taxation (CGT) rates with a person’s own Income Tax rates. This would mean increasing the rate of CGT for selling a buy to let property from 28% to 40% for high-rate taxpayers and 45% for additional rate taxpayers. To add salt to the wound, the OTS is suggesting cutting the £12,300 annual CGT allowance.

This has led to many Peterborough buy-to-let landlords contacting me in the last few weeks, wondering if this is the time to exit the Peterborough buy to let property market, especially as they have been hit by growing levels of rental legislation and higher taxes.

With tax bills about to go through the roof, is this the time to leave the Peterborough buy to let property market?

Yet, like all things, the devil is in the detail as Peterborough 2nd homeowners and Peterborough landlords may well finish up having lower CGT tax bills with these new taxation proposals, even though the CGT restructurings are being introduced to raise the much-needed cash for the Government.

Apart from the suggested cut of the annual CGT allowance and increase in the CGT percentage rates, the OTS report also proposed reintroducing rebasing and indexation. In layman’s terms, the OTS are suggesting all gains made before 2000 would not be taxable (rebasing) and any capital gains would be calibrated to account for inflation.

So, what would that actually look like for a Peterborough landlord? Let us assume we have a Peterborough landlord who bought a Peterborough buy to let property in 2000.

Under the current CGT rules

  1. The average value of a Peterborough property in 2000 was £74,100
  2. Today, that same Peterborough property has increased in value to £223,200
  3. Meaning a profit of £149,100
  4. As our Peterborough landlord is a high-rate taxpayer (earning £60,000 a year), their CGT bill after the annual allowance would be £38,304

Under the new proposed CGT rules

Under the new proposals, the CGT payable (assuming the CGT rate of 40% and a lower annual allowance of £5,000), the same Peterborough landlord would only pay £30,165 – a saving of over £8,000.

And the savings don’t stop there. Remember, under the new OTS proposals, all capital gains made before 2000 would also be tax-free.

However, let us not forget the responsibility of the OTS is to report on tax simplification opportunities, not to set Government taxation policy. None of us have a crystal ball on what Rishi Sunak will do with CGT on buy to let property or second homes. Although, as time has always taught us with investments, often the worse thing to do is to make impulsive decisions on what MAY happen.

You have to remember, CGT only gets charged when you sell or transfer your investments, and most people use their rental investments to provide their income. If you did sell up, the best 90-day building society accounts are obtaining 0.8% pa, the stock market is a rollercoaster (good luck with that) and Government 10-year bonds are paying a princely 0.324% pa … where else are you going to invest to get the income Peterborough property investments provide?

Property is an asset you can touch, feel and ultimately understand. Maybe, this is the time (if you haven’t already) to take portfolio advice on your Peterborough buy to let investments? Many Peterborough landlords do so, whether they use our agency, another Peterborough agency or you manage your property yourself. The service is free of charge, we don’t need to meet face to face as we can do it over Zoom and it’s all without obligation. I promise to tell you what you need to hear – not what you want to hear … what do you have to lose?

The 2020 Review of the Peterborough Property Market

Looking back at the Peterborough property market for 2020, it can certainly be seen as a frenetic game of two halves, albeit with a very long half time in the spring. Between the General Election in mid-December and Christmas, many Peterborough agents saw an unusually higher uplift in activity in the property market just as we were getting ready for Christmas 2019. Yet once the New Year festivities were out of the way, that pre-Christmas uplift in the local property market was nothing when compared to the bang on Monday 6th January 2020 with the fabled ‘Boris Bounce’ of the Peterborough property market. January, February and most of March were amazing months, with the pent up demand from people wanting to move from the Brexit uncertainty of 2018/9 being released in the first few months of 2020.

The pandemic hit mid-March, and the Peterborough property market was put on ice for nearly three months (as was almost everyone else’s lives). Yet at the end of spring, the property market was one of the first sectors of the economy to be re-opened. Every economist predicted house price drops in the order of 10% in the best-case scenario and 25% in the worst yet nothing could be further from the truth.

When the lockdown restrictions were lifted from the property market, those three months allowed Peterborough homeowners to re-evaluate their relationships with their homes. The true worth of an extra bedroom (for an office) became priceless, as people working from home were having to take calls and work from the dining room table. Peterborough properties with gardens and/or close to green spaces all of a sudden became even more desirable. More fuel was put on the fire of the Peterborough property market with the introduction of the Stamp Duty Holiday, meaning buyers could save thousands of pounds in tax if they moved before the end of March 2021. This stoked the local property market and now …

Property values in Peterborough are set at 0.8% higher today compared to a year ago.

The fallout of that increased demand for a new home meant those Peterborough properties on the market coming out of lockdown in early summer with those extra rooms and gardens were snapped up in days for ‘full’ price. Peterborough buyers were having to spend their Stamp Duty savings on paying top dollar for the home of their dreams. Yet the increased number of properties coming onto the market in the late Summer quenched a lot of that demand and the prices being achieved became a little more reasonable and realistic. This increased the number of properties sold (stc), so much so that, nationally, almost two thirds more homes have been sold (stc) than would be expected at this time of year!

However, as we all know, just because a property is sold (stc), it doesn’t mean the property is actually sold. The number of people who have moved home in the last 12 months in Peterborough, is as you would expect, much lower. Over the last 10 years, on average 3,539 Peterborough homes have changed hands per year, compared to only 1,511 Peterborough homes in the last 12 months.

So, what is a Peterborough property worth today? Drilling down to the four types of homes locally, some interesting numbers appear. Looking at the table, you can see what the average property types are worth locally, and within each type, the average price paid in the last 12 months. (So, if the average price paid for the last 12 months is higher than the overall average, that means more higher priced property in that type has sold in the last year compared to the overall average – and vice versa). 

 Average Overall Value TodayAverage Price Paid in the Last Year
Peterborough Detached£319,800£308,440
Peterborough Semi-Detached£194,990£207,290
Peterborough Town House/Terraced£151,000£160,670
Peterborough Apartments/Flats£122,080£117,760

Of course, these are overall average values. To give you an idea what Peterborough properties are selling for by their square footage, these are those averages …

Average Value per sq. ft. (internal)
Peterborough Detached£202.95
Peterborough Semi-Detached£195.70
Peterborough Town House/Terraced£173.63
Peterborough Apartments/Flats£155.80

So, what about 2021? Well normally when the country’s GDP drops like a stone (as it did in the Summer of 2020), the property market follows in unison. Yet as the economy went south, the house price growth and activity in the property market went north. This would appear to be a quite remarkable outcome given that economic framework, but it is gradually becoming clear that, as far as the Peterborough property market is concerned, people’s time in lockdown has been spent reflecting on what they really wanted from their home and has meant that the normal rules of the game simply do not apply…. for now.

As Peterborough First-time Buyers are Being Locked Out of the Peterborough Property Market – Rents Have Risen by 4.1%

With the banks reducing the number of low deposit mortgages (i.e. deposit of 10% and below) since Covid-19 hit in the spring, this has meant that the number of Peterborough first-time buyers has been decreasing quickly, meaning many of those would-be Peterborough buyers wanting to make the first step on the Peterborough property ladder will stay in the Peterborough rental sector.

This has caused demand to grow amongst Peterborough renters for larger homes to ride out Covid, as they hunker down for the long haul to wait for normality to return to the property market. This has caused

Peterborough rents to rise from £665 to the current £692 per month over the last 12 months, an increase of 4.1%.

Interestingly, the opposite is happening in Central London, where the rents tenants are having to pay have dropped by 3.8% in the last 12 months, as demand has dropped like a stone. It appears Central London tenants are looking to move out to the suburbs, in search of bigger homes, gardens and green open spaces. For example, the average rent for a 1-bed apartment in St. John’s Wood currently stands at a very reasonable £1,817 per month whilst a 2-bed apartment in Kensington and Chelsea is currently at an average bargain rent of £3,715 per month (yes, they might be low compared to last year, yet for us in Peterborough, that still seems like a lot of money!). Also, there has been further downward pressure on Central London rents, as many Airbnb landlords have dumped their short-term holiday let properties onto the long-term rental market as the tourism in the capital has dwindled because of the pandemic.

This has been the sharpest drop in Central London rents since the summer of 2009, when the property market was still stumbling from the Credit Crunch.

This means there is a reverse of the trend of the 2010’s (2010 to 2018 to be exact), when initially the London property market was shooting up whilst the rest of the country was in the doldrums. Then, when the rest of the UK did start to rise slowly in 2013, London kicked on even further like a rocket … yet now it appears the opposite is happening.

Getting back to Peterborough, according to the Land Registry property values currently stand 0.8% higher than a year ago; this is split down as follows:

  1. Detached Peterborough homes 1.2% higher
  2. Semi-detached Peterborough homes 1.7% higher
  3. Townhouse/terraced Peterborough homes 1.0% higher
  4. Peterborough apartments/flats 2.3% lower

Yet, do remember, these figures do NOT take into account the prices paid by desperate Peterborough buyers this summer, often paying top dollar to secure the property. This will only filter through in the figures released in the spring.

So, why are the banks curtailing the number of low deposit mortgages, meaning that first-time buyers must find a much larger down payment before they are able to buy their first Peterborough property?

The reason is the banks are fearful of a house price crash in 2021 (although if you recall I wrote about that a few weeks ago and the reasons why that is less likely to happen). They too are afraid of the frothy nature of the property market since the end of the first lockdown in late spring. The bank is lending its own money to buyers and no mortgage lender wants to be holding an enormous amount of these types of high percentage mortgages if house prices fall in 2021, because the bank would be saddled with negative equity and repossession on their hands (and we all know what that did to the housing market in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s as repossessions rocketed).

This can quite clearly be seen in the pricing and availability of low deposit mortgages. As the Bank of England has reduced its base rate to 0.1%, in the last 12 months 10% deposit mortgages rates have actually increased from 2% to 2.8%. Also, when lenders have been offering 10% mortgages throughout the summer, borrowers have had only a 24-hour window to commit before the lender withdraws the mortgage product from the market because of over subscription. As with all economics, if demand is greater than supply, the price goes up. That extra 0.8% doesn’t sound a lot until you realise a first-time buyer would have to pay an additional £167 per month in interest payments on a 10% deposit mortgage, assuming they borrowed £250,000.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for first-time buyers as there are embryonic signs that the 10% deposit mortgage market could gradually be returning to normal, as I have recently heard some lenders taking up to a week for their 10% deposit mortgage offers to run out. Fingers crossed!

So, what does all this mean for Peterborough landlords? Those Peterborough landlords with properties with gardens and larger rooms will be seeing increased demand. The ability to have pets in the rental property is also an advantage, and depending on the property, can add a decent premium to the rent that can be charged.

One final thought though for all homebuyers in Peterborough, be aware it’s going to be very challenging to get your house purchase through in time to meet the 31st March 2021 stamp duty holiday cut off if you are starting the process in November. Make sure your lender and solicitor have the capacity to meet that deadline and when you are asked for information, you drop everything to provide it. The odd days’ delay here and there will mean the difference between you getting the keys for your new Peterborough home before the end of March 2021 and saving thousands of pounds in Stamp Duty Tax … or feeling a fool from the 1st April 2021 and having to pay the tax!

Each Peterborough landlord could be hit by a £23,829 bill

…and the 5 ways on how all Peterborough landlords can escape the worst of the coronavirus downturn on their Peterborough rental property.

With the second lockdown starting on the 5th November 2020, does this mean Peterborough landlords can wave goodbye to their Peterborough buy-to-let investment and see it go up in smoke on the bonfire of buy-to-let dreams, like a Guy Fawkes puppet?

With many Peterborough tenants at risk of losing their jobs after the furlough scheme ends next March and as the reverberations of the coronavirus recession hit this winter, what does this all mean for Peterborough landlords and what can they do to mitigate the risks?

Since the spring, most Peterborough tenants and buy-to-let landlords have been protected from the coronavirus crisis thanks to the banks with their mortgage payment holidays and job support schemes.

Before the second lockdown was announced on the 31st October, it was expected, that as the furlough and mortgage payment holidays were due to finish on Halloween, there would be some serious fallout from those schemes finishing. One silver lining from the lockdown (if you can call it that) is that mortgage payment holidays and furlough have been extended, yet does all that just kick the can down the road?

The question is, what can Peterborough landlords do to mitigate the financial risk on their Peterborough buy-to-let investment?

  1. Help Your Peterborough Tenants Get the Financial Support They Are Entitled To 

Billions of pounds are being spent by the Government to help those people whose income has been hit by coronavirus. The better Peterborough letting agents and self-managing landlords are supporting, guiding and helping those Peterborough tenants in financial difficulty to gain a better understanding of the Universal Credit (UC) processes, systems and payment levels, to enable their tenants to pay the rent and ultimately indirectly, help their Peterborough landlord. Also, if you are a Peterborough tenant, and that support isn’t given when you ask, don’t forget Peterborough City Council do hold special cash reserves for discretionary housing payments, which can be utilised to close the gap in rent between what UC pays and your current rental commitments. Also, the Government’s Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice are a good online resource for you to find out what you are entitled to.

2. Adopting, Adapting & Improving Your Peterborough Buy-to-Let Property

Demand for gardens or office space means Peterborough landlords will need to think outside the box. Those Peterborough homes with tenants sharing (e.g. HMO’s and shared houses) might need to price their pre-coronavirus 4 bed sharing house to say maybe a 3 bed sharing house plus a work/office room and, if you haven’t already, installing a top of the range, fast and dependable internet connection could be the thing that swings it. Outdoor space and gardens are really high on Peterborough housebound tenant’s wish lists, in fact I have come across some Peterborough tenants demanding that new rental properties have a landscaped garden or those that bought a dog or cat for company during the first lockdown, are looking for their Peterborough landlords to relax their ‘no pets policy’.

3. Hold On to Your Good Peterborough Tenants

Those Peterborough buy-to-let landlords with decent tenants, who find themselves in financial dire straits should consider attempting to keep them, even if their own monetary circumstances mean they have to decrease their rent somewhat over the short term. Now of course, I would expect tenants need to prove their circumstances, yet if their plight was real, surely it would be a wise choice to reduce the rent by perhaps £50 a month and support your tenants? You know they are taking great care of your Peterborough rental property and rather than risk the issue of advertising your empty buy-to-let property  – particularly when there is no assurance you will achieve your existing rent and ultimately risk drawn-out void periods with no rent coming in at all. What I would suggest therefore,  in such circumstances, is that you create a new Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement with a longer term with your existing tenant at a lower rent – a temporary measure but with peace of mind for both parties which can then be reviewed once that tenancy is up for renewal

4. Carry out Firmer Checks on Your Prospective Peterborough Tenants 

Many private Peterborough landlords and a few slipshod Peterborough letting agents tenant checks are somewhat lacking in their depth. Trust me, there is tenant referencing … and then there is ‘proper’ forensic tenant referencing. As certain parts of the British economy have been hit harder than others, Peterborough landlords must consider when choosing their new tenants, the type of work they do or who their employer may be, to enable them to decide on their future capacity to meet their rental commitments

5. Rent Guarantee Insurance for Your Peterborough Rental 

There are still insurance companies offering landlord rent guarantee insurance if your tenants become unable to pay the rent. Many insurance firms removed these insurance products in the first lockdown, yet some have returned to the insurance market although insurance premiums have gone up in price. Remember to check the small print of the insurance, although you will get a lower insurance premium if you can show stringent tenant referencing (as per the previous point). 

6. The Nuclear Option – Eviction

Peterborough landlords need to be conscious that, should their tenancy run into trouble, the Government have changed the rules when it comes to eviction during the coronavirus pandemic. Going into the first lockdown, there was already a backlog in the courts and now, just before going into the second lockdown, bailiffs have been instructed not to enter rental properties in high risk Tier-2 and Tier-3 Covid-19 areas.

Eviction really does have to be the very last option. Negotiation or arbitration will nearly always deliver quicker and improved outcomes for both parties. Peterborough landlords who do come to mutually agreeable arrangements with their tenants by briefly reducing the rent, or allowing payment holidays with legally enforceable pay back schedules should ensure they get the agreed terms in writing and run by a solicitor or their agent (feel free to drop me a note if you need advice).

However, if eviction is required, it doesn’t mean the tenant gets off ‘scot free’. Evicted tenants, depending on their circumstances, will either be placed temporarily into an inexpensive B&B, asked to move in with family or given one of the local authorities temporary accommodation properties, with the goal to then move them into long term council accommodation (as the chances of obtaining private rented accommodation would be slim with agent’s heightened reference checks – more of that at the end).

The Potential Cost of Evicting a Problem Peterborough Tenant

The average rent for a Peterborough property currently stands at £692 per calendar month.

Thankfully, evictions are very rare. Last year before lockdown, tenants from 201.4 rental properties were evicted each working day in the UK … but if yours was one of those, that is still a potentially large cost.

Working on the basis that most evictions from the first rent not being paid, through to eviction, refurbishment of the kitchen, bathroom, carpets and décor (because often these do need sorting/replacing) were taking on average between eight to nine months before coronavirus hit, (plus the mortgage payments), this means a Peterborough landlord could be hit by a £23,829 bill, broken down as follows:

Missing rent (8½ months)£5,882
New kitchen£3,629
Bathroom£2,020
Carpets£2,405
Redecorate£1,834
Agents fees£618
Legal fees & court fees£3,500
Mortgage payments£3,941
Total£23,829

What that would be now is anyone’s guess – yet it could be a lot more.

This is why it is so important to get the best tenant from day one. Many Peterborough tenants, who know they wouldn’t pass the references of letting agents, are attracted to those private landlords who don’t use a letting agency, as they know their referencing checks are not as strict and may be a softer touch. That’s not to say going with a letting agent is a guarantee you won’t need to evict; it just means the chances are much, much smaller. Like anything in life – it’s a choice. Whether you are a Peterborough landlord who uses a letting agent or not and feels their reference checks are not to the standard or level you might hope or if you want a chat

Peterborough House Prices 2021

What will happen to the value of your Peterborough home next year?

What will a no deal Brexit on the horizon, the end of the stamp duty holiday in March, mortgage payment holidays coming to an end, unemployment set to rise after furlough and ongoing on/off coronavirus restrictions do to the Peterborough property market and the value of your Peterborough home?

In the late spring of 2020, every man and his dog were forecasting impending doom on the British property market. Drops of 10% were considered optimistic as we all held our breath  after lockdown was relaxed. Yet, the property market didn’t listen to the forecasters. UK property values today are 2.5% higher than they were a year ago, and more locally,

Peterborough house prices are only 0.8% higher than a year ago

So, what exactly is going to happen to the Peterborough property market in 2021?

Well, with the end of furlough and 1.7m people still on the furlough scheme at the start of October, a number of economists are saying that unfortunately many of those furloughed will become unemployed. Unemployment currently stands at 4.5% in Q3 2020 (compared to 3.8% in Q3 2019). The Government’s independent Office for Budget Responsibility believes the unemployment rate will peak at 9.7% in early 2021, and then return to pre-coronavirus  levels in 2022. In the past recessions of the early 1980’s, early 1990’s and Credit Crunch of 2009, when unemployment went up, the property market went down.

Yet, in this recession, the link between unemployment and property values may not be so direct.

So why is the link between unemployment and house prices potentially broken? It comes down to interest rates.

The reason Peterborough house prices have gone up by 361.38% since the middle of the 1990’s isn’t because the labour market has got so much sturdier, nor that the economy has outperformed every G8 country, or that the UK has had less boom and bust economic cycles than the previous decades. Instead, it’s because of the fundamental and underlying decline in the Bank of England (BoE) interest rates.

High BoE interest rates equal high mortgage payments which holds everything back regarding the property market. In the 1980’s, the average BoE interest rate was just over 11%, making mortgage payments very expensive and keeping property prices dampened. In the 1990’s, the average BoE interest rate was a little over 6%, in the 2000’s just over 4%. However, in the 2010’s, it had been a really low 0.5%. Now with interest rates down to 0.1% because of coronavirus and the BoE threatening negative interest rates, there appears little threat of an eruption in mortgage repayment costs.

With mortgage payments at an all-time low of just under 30% homeowners’ disposable income (compared to 48% in 2007), those middle-aged people lucky enough to still be in a job (who are mainly made up of workers whom are spending a lot more time working from home), they could be more inclined to dedicate more of their monthly income to mortgage payments than they did pre-coronavirus for a bigger garden or a move out of the big cities?

So, if unemployment isn’t going to make a huge difference to the Peterborough property market, what is?

Most commentators believe a no deal Brexit will have hardly any short-term effect on the property market (apart from certain upmarket parts of central London).

The stamp duty holiday ends at the end of March 2021 and that certainly will reduce the number of Peterborough people moving (as many moved their plans forward to beat the deadline) meaning there will be less Peterborough people moving in 2021, yet that will curtail the supply of property for sale and hence keep Peterborough property prices higher.

Next, the Help to Buy scheme, (started in 2013 and where the Government underwrites part of the mortgage for the first time buyer, meaning they can obtain a 95% mortgage) ends in April next year, yet the Tories indicated at their conference last month they would probably create ‘Help to Buy – Part 2’.

The bottom line is in the early 1980’s and 1990’s recessions, when interest rates were over 15%, obviously home owners couldn’t afford to keep up the mortgage payments when made redundant or on reduced wages, so many handed in their keys to the bank and homes got repossessed, thus exacerbating the issue with falling property values.

However, with interest rates so low, this will not be the case. I envisage that UK property prices will be between 4% to 5% higher by December and Peterborough values just behind that at 2% to 3% higher, before levelling out in 2021 (although we might see a modest dip in certain sectors and types of Peterborough homes depending on location and condition).

My advice to Peterborough buy to let landlords is to wait on the subs bench until April 2021. Something tells me there will be some Peterborough landlords who will be looking to exit the rental market after having their fingers burnt after the eviction ban has been lifted.

I also suspect those Peterborough first time buyers, eager (and able) to break free the rental-rat-race will want to take up the anticipated ‘Help to Buy – Part 2’ scheme, particularly if the BoE base rate stays low. The other winners in 2021 will be low mortgage/equity rich households upsizing to the countryside or leafy suburbs to test out their boss’s promise of ‘flexible-working’.

Yet the losers will be the 18yo to 29yo renters … most likely to be made redundant and least likely to buy a home.

My advice to the Government for this cohort is to not ignore them once the country is out of this coronavirus situation. It’s all very good keeping the Home Counties Tory voting Baby Boomers happy with green belt policies and other policies to keep their property values higher, yet as the Generation X and Millennials get older and take over as the largest demographic to keep happy (for the polls), the hitherto inconceivable action of the Government levying Capital Gains Tax on your main home may come to fruition.

I mean, we have £400bn to pay back because of coronavirus … it has to be repaid and it has to come from somewhere. Those denied real access to buying their own home in the last 10 years, because of massive house price gains over the last 25 years, could vent their anger via the ballot box — if not at the 2024 General Election, maybe in 2029, when they realise that the futile housing policies of both Labour and Tories of the last 23 years have left them with enduring financial diffidence.

Maybe we should all look to the grocer’s daughter from Lincolnshire who in 1979 set out a bold vision of home ownership for everybody. Whichever political party truly picks up the batten and reframes it for the current 2020’s generation and comes up with the goods, will be the ultimate winner in this game.

Peterborough Homebuyers Have Saved £223,660 Thanks to the Stamp Duty Holiday

Yet Many Could Miss Out

Peterborough homebuyers and Peterborough landlords purchasing residential property have saved £223,660 since the Chancellor reduced Stamp Duty on 8th July 2020, yet many more Peterborough homebuyers could miss out.

My analysis of properties sold in Peterborough from the Land Registry between the introduction of the Stamp Duty holiday on 8th July 2020 and 14th August 2020 (which is the most up to date sales data), reveals that many Peterborough homeowners have saved a considerable amount of money in Stamp Duty. According to my research…

since the stamp duty holiday was launched, 78 Peterborough homeowners have saved on average £2,867 each.

That’s a total Peterborough property value of £20,073,240.

Mind you, it’s not all good news as I estimate 172 Peterborough homebuyers risk missing out on the stamp duty savings (worth as much as £15,000 each) due to solicitors/conveyancers and mortgage lenders struggling with demand and failing to hit the 31st March 2021 deadline.

The short-term tax relief, together with the easing of lockdown restrictions, has seen demand for Peterborough property soar this summer as Peterborough property buyers race to move home.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced a stamp duty holiday in the summer, with the stamp duty holiday due to end on 31st March 2021. Yet, I fear the combined pent-up demand caused by…

  1. The post Boris Bounce
  2. People wanting to leave their metropolitan city centres for homes in the countryside
  3. Property with gardens
  4. Property with extra rooms for working from home
  5. The stamp duty savings

…has created a certain amount of constipation and backlog in the Peterborough property market.

I know 31st March 2021 seems an age away, however nothing could be further from the truth. The average Peterborough property sale was taking 19 weeks between the offer price being agreed and the keys/monies handed over BEFORE THE POST-LOCKDOWN. So, with as many as 40% to 50% more Peterborough homeowners in that same sales pipeline of agreeing the offer and the legal and finance to be sorted as we speak, solicitors/conveyancers and mortgage lenders are really struggling with demand for their services, meaning the average time will increase. Hence, I believe as many as…

172 Peterborough people could miss out on the £493,200 stamp duty tax savings.

There is time left to sell and legally complete your Peterborough property sale before the 31st March stamp duty deadline if you put the property on the market now with a realistic asking price, a decent marketing plan and razor sharp reflexes when it comes to the legal and mortgage work.

Yet with 40% to 50% more home movers in the system, those looking to sell their Peterborough home should be very suspicious of agents being too optimistic on their initial asking price (many estate agents get a commission to put a property on the market, meaning they over-egg the pudding on the suggested asking price to flatter you, only to badger you to reduce the asking price weeks later).

Those wasted weeks at an inflated asking price will mean the difference between you securing a buyer and you then buying your next Peterborough home with or without the Stamp Duty savings, which are up to £15,000 per home move.

And whilst many Peterborough buyers seem ready, willing and able to pay top dollar prices for properties that match their changed post-lockdown home needs, speaking privately to many Peterborough agents, some Peterborough homeowners’ price expectations for their homes are now becoming too optimistic, meaning they will undoubtedly lose out.

We also can’t forget as many as 1 in 5 mortgage surveys are being down valued by the surveyor, meaning unless all parties are willing to negotiate, the sale falls through and the homeowner has to go back to ‘Square One’.

My best piece of advice for those currently sold and in the sales systems with lawyers and mortgage brokers is to speak to your solicitor and mortgage broker every single week and ask if there is anything you need to do to ensure the sale proceeds smoothly and expediently. Also, if you are asked for any information from your solicitor or mortgage broker in between times, drop everything and respond quickly to their request. The odd day here and there will make all the difference.

Peterborough’s ‘Generation Rent’ to Become ‘Generation Buy’?

Boris Johnson has attracted both praise and horror in equal measure with a new plan for 95% mortgages to help beleaguered first time buyers to get on the property ladder, but would that expose UK taxpayers to too much risk? In this article I discuss the implications of what that would mean both nationally and locally in Peterborough.

With the Peterborough property market taking off due to the stamp duty holiday introduced in the summer, Boris Johnson announced at the recent Tory Conference a plan to offer first time buyers long-term low interest rate 95% mortgages (meaning they would only need to raise a 5% deposit). Yet when someone borrows more than 75%, the banks normally take out insurance in case the buyer defaults and the bank lose money if the property gets repossessed.

When the economy is good, the risk is low – so the insurance premiums are also low for the banks – meaning they are happy to lend high percentage loans. Yet, nobody could deny we are entering a period of uncertainty in the coming 12/18 months, meaning the insurance premiums for the banks have gone through the roof.

Mortgage companies have avoided riskier high percentage first time buyer mortgages since the start of the Coronavirus predicament. At the end of February 2020, there were just under 400 95% loan-to-value mortgage products accessible for first time buyers, yet today that figure stands at just 26.

Another reason for removing the number of 95% mortgages was that the demand for lower percentage loans exploded after lockdown was lifted, and with many mortgage staff still working from home, the banks and building societies focused their attention on getting those (less risky) mortgages sorted first. Therefore, they removed the higher percentage loans from their books, so they weren’t swamped with too much work … so, one must ask, should the Government take on the risk from mortgage providers in the form of a guarantee from the Government — sparking concern among economists the Government is already burdened with debt – does it need anymore?

Yet taxpayers have been funding a similar scheme for years. The Help to Buy scheme, which allows first time buyers to buy a home with a 5% deposit (and the Government guaranteeing between 20% to 40% of the loan) has been in operation since 2013. Taxpayers are already guaranteeing £16.049bn of loans for 224,133 first time buyers, and when we look closer to home locally, since 2013 …

2,106 first time buyers in Peterborough have used the Help to Buy scheme to help buy their home, relying on the Government to guarantee them on average £40,106

That means in Peterborough alone, £84,463,236 is at risk if those Peterborough homeowners’ default on those pre-existing Help to Buy Loans … yet the default rate is quite low.

So, should the Prime Minister be playing with the housing market? Ought he instead allow open market forces to be applied to the property market, allowing it to find its own normal and leave the mortgage providers to decide on mortgages based on risk, because all the Prime Minister will potentially achieve is a synthetic rise in property values?

Some in fact have argued it would be better to spend that public money on delivering affordable rental properties?

However, isn’t it better in the long run for the country as a whole that British people own their home rather than rent because the Government will have rent to pay for those tenants when they retire if they are on the basic (low) state pension?

Personally, I don’t disagree with the initiative, yet all I am querying is, what are the Peterborough first time buyers going to be able to buy? The Peterborough property market is already quite drawn-out, as ultra-low interest rates have augmented the gap between the first home and the second home, the second home to the third and so on and so forth, so is this initiative fashioning a massive demand that will inflate property prices up the Peterborough property ladder still further and ultimately lead to even more frustration down the line?

However, could this be the very thing that saves the Peterborough property market in 2021?

Firstly, with the stamp duty holiday due to finish by the end of March, there are suspicions the property market will stall. And secondly, the very popular Help to Buy scheme mentioned above also finishes at the end of March 2021. This boost instead of fuelling house price inflation could stabilise the property market.

In fact, the Government are hoping the property market will help power us out of recession. The early signs are good as the Peterborough housing market has exploded as a result of the stamp duty holiday introduced in the summer. It certainly needs to as the country’s GDP only grew by 2.1% in August, down from 6.4% in July, 9.1% in June and 2.7% in May.

As a country, our GDP is still 9.2% below the levels seen pre-Covid. With the property market doing well, the country remains on course to leave recession in Q3, yet with the impending triple peril of rising unemployment (after furlough), further lockdown restrictions and a messy end to the Brexit transition period does this mean we are potentially in for an interesting ride?

Only time will tell if ‘Generation Buy’ will help save the property market, the economy and ultimately Boris? In the meantime, I think it will be a safe bet that people still need homes to live in … and irrespective of what happens to the property market, with that simple fact, the winners in all of this will be Peterborough buy to let landlords.

Tell me your thoughts on this …