Why are Some Banks Reining in Over-Enthusiastic Peterborough Homebuyers and Buy-to-Let Investors

The Peterborough property market is an enigma and chock-full of contradictions.

Not with standing an economic recession and forecasts of property values dropping, nobody seems to have informed the Peterborough homeowners selling their homes and those Peterborough people looking to buy them. As I have discussed in many recent articles on the locality, the Peterborough property market is booming and property values in some sections of the market are rising, yet amidst enthusiastic reports of gazumping, there are disgruntled and malcontent grumbles about mortgage company surveyors down valuing property on survey.

However, before we talk about the banks and surveyors, let’s look at what is happening in the Peterborough property market now.

Land Registry figures published last week showed unyielding evidence for what everyone in the property industry had been saying since the market reopened after a seven-week lockdown on May 13: property prices are rising.

The average value of a Peterborough home rose by 0.5% in the year to June to £223,300

Many expect the statistics to show more rises following the Stamp Duty Holiday announced in July, which unbridled a burst of buying activity in the Peterborough property market. In many (not all) sectors some properties have been going for over the asking price whilst some have been going to sealed bids.

Some newspapers have even suggested a small minority of homeowners are ‘backdoor-gazumping’, which is genteelly being referred to by estate agents as ‘retuning the asking price’ – as in, the homeowner removing the property from the market, ‘retuning the asking price’ in an upward direction, then placing it back onto the market.

Conceivably enthused by these stories, some house sellers and estate agents might be getting a little carried away and placing overambitious asking prices on homes they are selling. Customarily a property with too high an asking price wouldn’t sell – yet some over-enthusiastic Peterborough buyers are paying over the odds for certain types of properties.

So, let’s look at what is happening to the Peterborough property market (Peterborough plus 3 miles) by house type and the number of bedrooms…

 Number of Peterborough properties
on the market
…and of those –
how many are Sold STC
% Sold STC
compared to those for sale
Detached House103145143.7%
Semi Det House82239648.2%
Terraced/Town House68032848.4%
Apartment52015329.4%
Bungalows37216945.4%

And when we look at the number of bedrooms …

Number of Peterborough properties
on the market
…and of those –
how many are Sold STC
% sold STC
compared to those for sale
Studio/1 bed2166931.9%
2 beds83535041.9%
3 beds141167047.5%
4 beds77134344.5%
5+ beds2188036.7%

As you can see, the best performing type of properties in Peterborough are the terraced/town, very closely followed by the semi-detached houses and the best-selling properties when it comes to bedrooms are 3 beds.

These are quite impressive figures for the Peterborough property market, yet some of the banks are having none of it

They are looking apprehensively into 2021 when furlough/the new job support scheme ends, meaning it’s quite tough for all buyers borrowing high percentage mortgages (i.e. more than 80% to 85% of the value of the property in a mortgage). 

It is even tougher for self-employed buyers (whose income is less than assured) to get those high percentage mortgages – and finally, the banks are most certainly concerned with high percentage mortgage buyers who pay over-inflated prices for property using the bank’s money… hence the down valuing (Definition of Down valuing : the buyer and seller agree a sale price, then the mortgage is applied for with the buyer’s bank and the bank’s surveyor states the purchase price the buyer is paying is too much).

One small note to Peterborough landlords – I am also hearing that some overzealous Peterborough buy to let landlords who are over-egging the potential rental figures on their buy-to-let purchase in order to obtain the mortgage, are also being reined in by the banks.

Now this is not a huge issue (e.Surv – a nationwide surveying firm only reported a 4% increase in surveyors having to down value property in Q2 2020 compared to Q1), yet should you be lucky enough to have multiple offers on your home, ask the agent what the overall buying position of the buyers are. You need to specifically ask what percentage loan the buyer is taking on and the position of the buyer in the chain (they have to find this out anyway by law and you have a right to know that information as the property seller if you ask).

The bottom line is the highest bidder might not be the best buyer for you. It’s true, average property prices are rising nationally, yet this does not mean you should pay over the odds for your next Peterborough property.

If you would like a chat about any aspect of the Peterborough property market – please do send me an email on info@woodcockholmes.co.uk or call me on 01733 303111.

Peterborough Millennials Moving Back in with Mum and Dad?

Roll the clock back 20 years and any self-respecting late 20/early 30 something would never say on their first date that they lived with their mum and dad. It was seen as a sign of immaturity being tied to your mother’s apron strings as a failure to leave the family home. Yet over these last two decades, the age of leaving home has been increasing steadily from 20 years and 11 months in the late 1990’s to 22 years and 7 months today.

However, as with all the stats, the devil is in the detail. Although the age of leaving home has only risen by 8% between 1997 and today, those that didn’t leave home in their early 20’s tended to stay much, much longer.

In 1997, 11.26% of 25yo to 34yo still lived at home with their parents, yet last year that had risen to 15.74%, an increase of 391,000 ‘stay at home’ Millennials

However, before we deride these Millennials for still being tied to their mother’s apron strings, I would say those very same Millennials (the mid 20’s to 30-year olds) have been pragmatic, being attracted to sacrificing independence in order to achieve their long-term life goals as they have seen rents rise and an inability to save for the mortgage deposit. All of this has seen the first-time buyer levels in this millennial age range rise for the last three years … so good news for everyone!

However, is all that about to change?

Just as mum and dads in Peterborough had thought their late 20 something/early 30 something offspring had flown the nest, Covid-19 has blown some Peterborough ‘chickadees’ back into the nest. Back in March, the lockdown saw many Millennials flee the big UK cities, with their constrained and poky shared HMO’s and flat shares, swapping their city centre private rented home for their parents’ Peterborough home.

Yet with lockdown lessening, it isn’t just remote workers who are unenthusiastic and disinclined to return to the big cities (fearful of a second lockdown) — many of these Coronavirus blow-ins are deciding to stay put too! A recent YouGov poll asked Millennials of private rented homes what their plans were and 1 in 6 tenants planned to hand their notice in on their rented home and fly back to the nest of mum and dad. The advantages are quite plain, especially as it could enable them to save for a deposit to buy their future home.

There are 65,247 households in Peterborough, made up of 19,203 single person households and 39,378 family households (the remainder being made up of shared houses etc.)

Yet how many of those Peterborough family households had non-dependent children before Covid-19?

5,579 Peterborough households have children that haven’t flown the nest

That’s 14.17% of Peterborough families whose kids are still to leave home … and it’s only going to get worse!

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

It will mean that Peterborough parents and their children will get to know each other better, build stronger relationships and it will enable their children, if they are wise, to save for their deposit for their first home purchase – who knows maybe in Peterborough, as working from home could become the norm.

Also, with remote working, many tenants are looking for properties with bigger gardens which could translate into greater demand for property with bigger gardens? It will also change the property needs of those Peterborough parents and potentially could mean instead of those parents moving down market, they could end up staying longer or moving up market?

Now of course these polls could be a load of hot air? What I do know is that this thing has not played out yet and only time will tell if this will make a concrete change to the way people live, rent and buy property.

These are interesting times and thank you for reading this. Do let me know your thoughts on this matter.

The 7,321 ‘Trapped Landlords’ of Peterborough

Going into lockdown in March, the Government proclaimed a ban on tenant evictions, pledging that no tenant in a private rented home, who had lost their wages due to Covid-19 would be kicked out of their private rented home until the late summer. Fast forward to August and the press were being briefed as late as Wednesday 19th August that this freeze in evictions in England and Wales would cease on the 23rd August. That was until just after 4pm Friday 21st August when Mr Jenrick, the Housing Minister, announced that the eviction ban would be extended for a further four weeks and also buy to let landlords must now give their tenants six months notice to gain possession.

Cue crocodile tears for all the 7,321 Peterborough landlords

Not so ‘snappy’ with piping your eye there. I know many Peterborough landlords became landlords between 2000 and 2009 because they preferred bricks and mortar to investing in the stock market or gilts/bonds market. All they were looking for was a small pension income to top up their meagre state pension. Not all Peterborough landlords are akin to the 21st Century Rising Damp version of Leonard Rossiter with his ‘Rigsby-esqe’ or even ‘Rachmanism’ wicked landlord ways. Official estimates suggest there are 1.8m to 2.1m landlords in the UK, the vast majority doing the right thing by their tenants, many of whom have helped their Peterborough tenants in financial trouble during Covid-19 by acquiescing to short-term rent reductions or rent-payment holidays.

Also, many Peterborough landlords have mortgages (in fact, if we added all the UK buy to let landlord’s mortgages, they would add up to £216.65 billion). The Government and the Bank of England have applied political influence on the mortgage companies to be a little more flexible and sympathetic on landlord’s mortgage interest payments, yet the mortgage interest is still adding up. The issue is, some tenants are in arrears with their rent, meaning landlords aren’t receiving their rent, which means many buy to let mortgages aren’t being paid either.

So, how many tenants are in arrears? The National Residential Landlords Association stated that just 3% of landlords recently surveyed reported tenants are in arrears. This was backed up recently when Goodlord stated …

3.72% of tenancies in the UK are in arrears, although interestingly ours stands at 1.2%

These are only slightly above the pre-Covid arrears levels, yet still a strain for the landlords involved. Also, the two-month notice period of the section 21 Notice has been extended to six months, meaning it will be March before any tenants are made to leave, even if the notice was issued now.

So, does this leave Peterborough landlords trapped?

With regard to the arrears, only 1 in 17 landlords rent their property through a limited company, meaning the rest (i.e. the vast majority) rent their property as a person, thus giving themselves unlimited personal liability should their rental portfolio fail (i.e. the mortgage company could make a claim on the landlords own assets, including their main residence, if the property was repossessed and the shortfall wasn’t made up). Also, if the building society’s and Banks turn against the Government advice and are too lenient with landlords with buy to let mortgages, there could be situations where the rental properties are repossessed, meaning the tenant will be made homeless.

I am particularly concerned about the fate of the 2,057 self-managing Peterborough landlords (i.e. they don’t use an agent)

They should seriously consider taking out rent guarantee insurance to protect themselves against any potential defaulting tenants (so many don’t). Reasonably priced rent guarantee insurance products, even on existing tenancies are still available to landlords via agents, even in these Covid-19 times (whether you are a client of mine or not do not hesitate to pick up the phone and have a chat or send me an email). Whilst the policies aren’t inexpensive – they do give you peace of mind with the rental payments.

One thing that this does also remind me of is the 2008 Credit Crunch. There were an awful lot of Peterborough homeowners who were unable to sell their home in 2008/9, so they converted their Peterborough property into a buy to let investment. There are going to be an awful lot of Peterborough landlords who will also want to sell in the next six to nine months, yet are unable to do so until the middle of next year without having to take a hit on the value of their home. For those Peterborough landlords that can relate to that, maybe we should chat to consider your options so you can mitigate any losses?

It seems Peterborough landlords have been used to saving the Government from a PR disaster of homeless tenants on the streets at Christmas, the least we should do in the country is stop disparaging landlords and lift them up from their pariah status.

Peterborough landlords are housing 33,908 Peterborough people in private rented accommodation…

… and so it is my opinion that the contributions made by these Peterborough landlords should be recognised. My fear is always of a danger of a widening schism between the landlords and tenants. Truth be told, both need each other, and I hope the Government extend help to landlords as they have with tenants, otherwise the Government won’t have any homes to house the British people if all the landlords decide to sell up. It is especially important that the supply of private properties doesn’t drop in Peterborough going forward when you consider…

Peterborough needs an additional 5,499 private rental homes by 2029

In the meantime, the Government have bigger fish to fry sorting out the economy as a whole, so if you are a self-managing landlord or even a landlord with another agent in Peterborough, feel free to pick up the phone or make contact with me and we can discuss your options without any obligation. There is no need to feel trapped, there are options for you and it is better to consider them now – set the foundations and motions going in the right direction promptly before it becomes a bigger issue in the future.

Nimbyism in Peterborough is Dead – Long Live the Planning Permission Rule Changes:

How will this affect the 71,391 Peterborough Property Owners?

The 1st July 1948 heralded a new dawn in how property was built, as the Town & Country Planning Act 1947 came into force, meaning no property could be built without the say so of the local authority. Now, Boris Johnson has announced a substantial change to that, by in effect, ending planning permission.

The decision of what gets built (and what doesn’t) will be removed from Peterborough City Council and replaced by Westminster governed ‘Zoning Commissions’. The anticipated reform will give presumptive building rights to any piece of land outside areas of outstanding natural beauty, green belt and national parks, although in the press release there was mention of protection for the countryside.

Travel to Europe and it’s common to see out of place haphazard development of new households or commercial buildings, surrounded by open countryside … so, I hope these new regulations protect us against that.

The principles of the planning rule changes are a departure away from looking at each planning application as a standalone application to a ‘zone-system’ of planning. Land will be divided into three classes: 1st for growth, 2nd for protection and 3rd for renewal. Anyone applying for planning permission to develop homes, offices and shops on land zoned for growth, will automatically be granted planning permission; whilst land zoned for renewal planning permission will be granted in principle while Government officers perform checks. Local authorities have until 2024 to designate areas for the three classes and once agreed, planning departments will have little or no say over individual applications that fit the rules.

Interestingly, these changes come on top of new planning regulations coming into force this September which gives implied rights to demolish any office building and replace with a block of flats, and the right to build extra floors/storeys on your home.

The Housing Secretary has specified the motive behind the changes to the planning system is not to make planning permissions easier to get (although 88% of planning applications are approved by local authority’s already). Instead, they have been done to make the planning process quicker, less expensive and less likely to be held up by special ‘interest’ groups.

93% of planning permissions in Peterborough City Council were approved last year (compared to the national average of 88%)

Noteworthy, the planning rules were changed in 2016 to turn disused shops and office space into residential homes (called ‘permitted development’ rights), yet these new regulations about to be announced by Boris will take that right even further. This is important because in 2019, there were 241,340 new households created in the country, yet 29,260 of those households came from turning disused shops and office space into residential homes (i.e. the planning permission rule changes made in 2016).

My concern is that the new planning rule changes do not make shop or redundant space into the new 21st Century ghettos. An RICS report in 2018 showed a massive difference between the conversion of office blocks with planning permission and those without (i.e. permitted development). What was interesting is that only 1 in 5 properties met the national space standards, a non-legally binding suggestion on the minimum size of home, minimum dimensions of bedrooms, natural light, storage & floor to ceiling height, whilst 3 in 4 of office block conversions that did obtain planning permission met the standard.

These planning changes cannot be a charter for cowboy builders or developers, otherwise your children or grandchildren could end up renting one of these sub-standard homes, thus stealing human dignity from thousands of youngsters who will end up renting these homes.

So, what does this all mean to Peterborough homeowners and Peterborough landlords? If you have been reading my articles you will know that one of the most important factors holding back the Peterborough property market is the lack of new properties being constructed and when they are, the lack of infrastructure surrounding them.

Since 1995, only 7,132 properties have been built in PE1 to PE4

Yet, these new planning changes will also introduce a new method of taking a lot more money off landowners and builders, as the Government will take a larger share of uplift in land value (i.e. the increase in value from farmland to building land) to finance infrastructure around the development. This would mean new housing developments would come with upgraded roads, GP surgeries, primary schools and shops that these new communities need to be viable. Also, communities will be asked to decide on their own standards on style and design for new developments in their area, allowing residents a greater say on the development in their locality.

Like all things, the devil is in the detail. All of us in Peterborough cannot deny that we need to build more homes to keep up with the ever-growing population and the fact that people are living longer. This new planning system should lead to more housebuilding, which in turn would increase the supply of property for those trying to get on the property ladder. Also, in the proposed legislation is the new ‘First Homes’ scheme, which would allow key workers, first time buyers and people who live or work in the Peterborough area to purchase their new home at 30% less than its market value and when they come to sell it, that 30% discount would be passed on to the new buyer (if they also met the criteria).

With regard to what can be built and where, Peterborough people will have a say upfront (i.e. between now and 2024 when the zoning rules are drawn up) but once the zoning has been established, then ‘nimbyism’ will become a thing of the past and hopefully we can construct the Peterborough homes we are proud of for our children and for Peterborough generations to come. 

Please do let me have your thoughts on this matter.

What’s Next for the Peterborough Property Market?

There is no doubt that Coronavirus will affect the Peterborough property market, but just how?

The ensuing economic challenges are going to impact the Peterborough (and UK) property market, yet no one knows the real answer. The newspapers eulogise different opinions, but that’s all they are – opinions and everybody’s got a different opinion. The truth of the matter is we don’t know and won’t know for another few months at least, if not more?

There have been some outstanding Government supportive measures both for tenants, landlords, home buyers and sellers (including a pause on evictions for tenants, and for landlords and homeowners, mortgage payment deferments and stamp duty reductions to make buying a home cheaper), and whilst these are only temporary, they have done their job, meaning there is a good level of activity in the Peterborough property market.

A lot of that is pent-up demand from a couple of years of uncertainty because of Brexit. Also, we had the General Election in late 2019, so there have been so many reasons for people to sit on their hands. At the beginning of 2020, it was like a water hose ready to burst with the Boris Bounce in January and February. Then, just as things were beginning to get going in the Peterborough property market, we had everything freeze up for months during lockdown. Since lockdown has been lifted …

the Peterborough property market is open once again for business and there is unquestionably some impressive activity both in the sales and rental market

So, back to the original question and where are we going? I think what we will see is a subtle change to where people want to live because of the pandemic. People working from home has shown that the need to be in the big cities has reduced and as employees have realised, they can work very efficiently from home, plus they are happier and have a better work/life balance. Their employers are also happy as they get more work out of their staff and can reduce their costly office footprint in the cities. The same goes for Peterborough tenants as they are wanting more from their rental homes. Three trends we have noticed is there is greater demand for properties with gardens, greater demand for Peterborough landlords who will accept pets (as they now can have them as they work from home) and finally, tenants willingness to pay top dollar for ‘top of the range’ properties, whilst more basic and uncared for properties without all the ‘bells and whistles’ need to go for a discount. There certainly has been a flight to quality.

Yet, what worries me is the fundamental future uncertainty in 2021 and beyond. What will things look like, say in spring 2021, when the Stamp Duty reductions are phased out? Any property sold needs to have completed by the end of March 2021 to take advantage of the tax holiday, meaning you need to have sold your Peterborough property by November 2020 at the very latest to ensure your property purchase and sale deal goes through in time (as it is taking on average up to 17 weeks between sale agreed and completion). This is where the difference between a great solicitor, brilliant estate agent and awesome mortgage broker compared to average ones will show. Good ones, when all three are working together for you, can get the sale through in 6 to 8 weeks, not the national average of 17 weeks, meaning if you are cutting it fine, you might not be able to take advantage of the tax savings in the spring. Give me a call if you want to know who the best of the best in Peterborough are to ensure you don’t lose out on those tax savings. 

The value of the average Peterborough home currently stands at £204,900

So, what is going to happen to the Peterborough property market? It really depends on the economy as a whole and of course the property market is a large part of that. I know one thing that buy to let landlords and home buyers don’t like is ambiguity and the British housing market has always lived and breathed on emotion and sentiment. People will only buy and sell property (and borrow the money to make those transactions happen) when they feel good. Are all these things like Stamp Duty holidays just putting off the inevitable? Are we heading for the mother of all property crashes?

Well, let me put sentiment and opinion aside for a second and look at the simple facts.

We have an increasing population, yet we don’t build enough houses.

Since 1995, we have built on average 150,200 properties per year. The Barker Report said 2004 the country needed 240,000 per year to satisfy annual demand for new homes and whilst the number of new homes built in the UK last year rose 1% to a 13-year high, only 161,000 homes were built. That means over the last 25 years with the difference between actual homes built and the targets set out in the Barker Report, we have an inbuilt shortage of 2,245,000 homes, meaning …

since the Millennium, property values in Peterborough have increased by 167.1%

Other factors have contributed to that. The average age of a person leaving their parents’ home in the UK is 24.4 years and that has been dropping for a few years meaning more homes are required. People are also living longer (in 2000 the average person lived until 77.7 years and now it’s 81.1 years – doesn’t sound a lot until one considers for each additional year the average person lives in the UK, we need an additional 356,500 homes). Finally, we have got immigration. In the year ending March 2019, 612,000 people moved to the UK (immigration) and 385,000 people left the UK (emigration) – meaning a net increase of 227,000 people (or a requirement of 100,000 homes to house them in one year alone). All those factors in themselves mean…

we have more demand for Peterborough property than we have supply and that’s not going to change any time soon.

Property markets are driven (like all markets) by supply and demand so I believe Peterborough property values can only rise in the long term. The question is whether Peterborough people will have the sentiment and confidence to borrow money on a mortgage and invest in Peterborough property, yet at the moment with ultra-low interest rates, borrowing money to buy a home has never been so cheap and if you are in it for the long-term (which you should be with property) then I think it’s good news.

One piece of good news is that mortgage lenders are willing to lend up to 90 per cent loan to value mortgages for first time buyers (and in some rare cases 95 per cent), albeit with a lot of strings attached … yet this is a good sign as the banks and building societies wouldn’t be lending at these levels if they were too scared.

Investing in property, be it for yourself to live in or buy to let is a long-term game. We might see an uplift in prices in the short term because of the demand mentioned above, then again, we might see a dip in 2021 – yet again for the reasons mentioned above – until we start to build new homes to the scale of 300,000+ a year (something that has never been achieved since 1969), the long-term picture appears to be good. Be you a Peterborough landlord, Peterborough house seller or Peterborough buyer, you have to be a lot more strategic and thoughtful about what you are going to do. If you would like to pick my brains, drop me a message on social media or pick up the phone.

So, those are my thoughts, tell me your thoughts for the future of the Peterborough property market?

Stamp Duty Holiday

Peterborough homeowners and landlords set to save £4,751,890 in stamp duty over the next nine months.

The British are infatuated with owning their own property and politicians know that. Margaret Thatcher used it as a vote winner in 1979 when she allowed council house tenants to buy their own home. Coming to the present day, Boris Johnson’s Conservative government have anxieties that the Brits have not been buying nearly enough homes lately and, as with all countries in the world, the British property market was put ‘on ice’ for several months to help contain the Coronavirus, exacerbating the problem.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced on Wednesday plans to boost the property market by momentarily scrapping Stamp Duty Tax (a tax paid by homebuyers) when they buy a property that costs less than £500,000.

Interestingly, Stamp Duty was originally introduced in 1694 as a way to raise funds for The Nine Years’ War (1688–1697) against Louis XIV of France and applied to property and some legal documents.

Why is this important? Well the Government recognise that when the property market is working well, the economy also tends to work well, yet one of the barriers to people moving home is Stamp Duty. Even before Coronavirus, Brits were moving 40.21% less than they were at the start of the millennium, and now with this dreadful situation, the natural reaction is for people to stay put in their own homes, meaning another potential nail in the coffin for the economy.

Stamp Duty has raised not an insignificant £166.53bn since 1998, impressive when you consider the NHS costs £129bn per annum. Looking at more recent figures, the Government currently raise £1.045bn per month from Stamp Duty Tax and this statement will remove a good chunk of that from the Chancellors coffers each month, yet the Government knows a healthy property market will help the wider economy.

As Stamp Duty is a transaction tax, it restricts labour market mobility, making people who are thinking of switching jobs think twice before moving. Stamp Duty also holds back elderly homeowners from downsizing to smaller homes, which is an issue for the UK, as we don’t have enough homes to meet supply and also curtails first time buyers as it forces them to use some of the savings on the tax, as opposed to using for a deposit.

Before the changes, the Stamp Duty thresholds were as follows: 

  • Zero percent up to £125,000
  • Two percent of the next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000)
  • Five percent of the next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000)
  • Ten percent of the next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)
  • 12% of the remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

and between the 8th July 2020 and 31st March 2021

  • Zero percent up to £500,000
  • Five percent of the next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000)
  • Ten percent of the next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)
  • 12% of the remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

Landlords and Buy to Let Landlords will also benefit from these reduced rates, yet will still have to pay their additional premium for second homes (as they have since April 2016).

To give you an idea how significant this is, if these rules had been in place exactly a year ago for Peterborough properties purchased under £500,000 (i.e. between 8th July 2019 and 31st March 2020).

Stamp Duty would not have been paid on 2,244 Peterborough properties, worth in total £518,103,405

Anyone buying any home in Peterborough over £500,000 are also winners in this, as they will save having to pay the first £15,000 in stamp duty (under the old scheme). This is because during these 9 months, stamp duty is only paid on the difference over £500,000 (so if you buy a property for say £620,000 – one only pays the stamp duty on the difference between £620,000 and £500,000 i.e. £120,000).

I’m all for reducing Stamp Duty, which is imposed progressively at higher rates the higher a property costs (as you can see from the tables above). Yet, short-lived changes to property taxation risk warping the property market and generating a ‘property market hangover’ in Spring 2021. I am part of a group of 2,500 estate and letting agents from the UK, and most of us were running at 150% speed before this announcement, coping with the post Coronavirus explosion in demand.

Now it seems that the ‘feast’ will continue until the end of March 2021 as many more people will move to take advantage of the cut in tax. However, some are suggesting this could lead to ‘famine’ down the line as it will stop people moving into the late spring and summer of 2021.

History tells us different stories on the influence on transaction volumes from changing Stamp Duty rates. In 1991 the Tory’s raised the Stamp Duty threshold at which house buyers started paying and Gordon Brown did so in 2008 when we went into the Credit Crunch. More recently, both George Osborne and Philip Hammond fine-tuned Stamp Duty so that landlords had to pay an additional Stamp Duty Premium after March 2016 whilst first-time buyers pay less Stamp Duty and the purchasers of more expensive homes (over £1.5m) pay more.

The Stamp Duty changes for landlords in 2016 affected the property market only for a short while and by the autumn, transactions levels had returned to normal. However, in 1991, John Major’s Stamp Duty change encouraged home buyers to bring forward home purchases but nevertheless the property market ground to a standstill again once the benefit ended (although the steps up the 1990’s Stamp Duty levels were much harsher as the tax applied to the whole purchase price, not the margin steps as it had in the 1990’s).

So how much money will Peterborough people save when buying a home under £500k?

The average Stamp Duty paid by those Peterborough homebuyers in the 9 months between 8th July 2019 and 31st March 2020 was £2,118

Being objective, I can see why the Chancellor could see this as a suitable way to motivate spending because when people move home, they are more inclined to spend comprehensively on property renovations and the services of solicitors, home removal people, tradesmen and estate agents. So, drastically reducing Stamp Duty will undoubtedly help the UK economy, or at least contain some of the damage from the Coronavirus.  

Also, the experience of being in lockdown will have confirmed to many Peterborough people that they need a bigger home or one with a bigger garden. I also suspect other people may be able to work from home on a more long-lasting basis, meaning there could be a shift from the larger cities to outlying towns and even a move to the countryside.

So, these are my thoughts, what are yours?

Is This The Beginning Of The End For Buy to Let in Peterborough?

Should Peterborough landlords & Peterborough homeowners be worried?

In 2019, the private rented sector accounted for just over four and a half million households or 19.9% of UK households, no change from the year before. Interesting, when compared to the proportion of private rented households in the 1980’s and 1990’s, when the proportion of private rented households was stable at around 9.5% to 10.8%.

Most of that growth in the private rented sector came in three main spurts. The first growth spurt was between 1999 and 2003 and that was caused when property values were increasing at 20% per annum, the second came from the migration of 1.69m people from the EU8 countries after 2004 and the final growth spurt came about because of the property crash of 2008/9. When I look at the local stats…

8.8% of Peterborough properties in 1991 were privately rented, whilst the most recent stats stand at 19.7%

Apart from social housing, the other pillar of home tenure is owner occupation. Owner occupation is made up of two separate groups: outright owners and those who own their home yet are buying the property with a mortgage.

In 1991, 19.5% of Peterborough households owned their property outright and 45.7% of Peterborough households were buying with a mortgage, whilst current stats show 24.7% of Peterborough households are outright owners and only 32.8% are buying their Peterborough home with a mortgage

Looking at these numbers, two things are clear-

  1. The increase in the proportion and number of Peterborough outright owners is at least somewhat caused by Peterborough’s baby-boomer population retiring, being able to pay off their mortgages and thus going into outright homeownership.
  2. Overall homeownership is down. These figures will be of no surprise to many readers with heightened barriers to home ownership, as saving for the deposit became the prevailing hurdle to getting on the housing ladder together with a substantial increase in the amount of private rented accommodation, provided by an ostensibly ever-growing cohort of buy to let investors.

So, on the face of it, everything looks rosy for Peterborough buy to let landlords with the private rented sector growing ever upwards.

This is not the case though, because these stats on private rented and homeownership on Peterborough are from the last census. However, the Government have a number of in-depth annual surveys on the property market and since 2016, the proportion of privately rented properties has remained stagnant at between 19% and 20%. Also, over the same time frame, the proportion of homebuyers with a mortgage has increased quite considerably from 30.7% of all households nationally to 35.5% last year. This increase is mainly attributed to an increase in first time buyers.

So, why have we seen an increase in the number of first time buyers?

Firstly, the government introduced their Help to Buy Scheme in 2013 helping first time buyers get on the property ladder with interest free loans and mortgage guarantees. Secondly, the wide availability of 95% mortgages since the mid 2010’s (meaning first time buyers only need to find a 5% deposit), and finally the continued increasing reliance of deposits from the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ have helped to support this growth.

Interestingly, age is an important factor in these stats, as it’s the 25 to 35-year olds that have seen the biggest increase in home ownership, yet it’s decreased for those in the 35 to 45-year old bracket.

So, what does all this mean for Peterborough landlords and Peterborough homeowners?

In the next six months, I believe the growth in first time buyer numbers will ease slightly. The pent-up demand of the Boris Bounce in January and February has now been released, and whilst the early signs are very good, we are still to see the effects of the curtailing of the furlough scheme on the people’s ability to move home.

Many doom-mongers were predicting the banks would remove 95% mortgages after Covid-19, yet looking on a well-known comparison website, at the time of writing, there were 183 ‘95% mortgages’ available to first time buyers, with eye watering low rates of 1.53% with the Halifax on a 2 year fixed rate and 5 year fixed rate with the Skipton at 1.83%. The Bank of Mum and Dad might be a tougher nut to crack for first time buyers’ deposits – the fall in the FTSE and the repercussions this will certainly have on older households’ pensions income may restrict its availability.

This means even though the Peterborough property market is doing reasonably well, Peterborough homeowners wanting to sell shouldn’t get carried away and ‘over-egg’ their asking prices. The information available today at all buyers’ fingertips means your property can so easily be overlooked as being overpriced, and thus become ignored.

My advice to Peterborough landlords is, even though the proportion of private rented properties isn’t growing, in real numbers it is, as we created 230,000 residential homes in the country last year alone, so we aren’t seeing a mass exodus out of private renting. Yet, now might be the time to consider spending money on upgrading what you already own instead of buying another property. Depending on the type and location of your Peterborough rental property, the return on investment of certain upgrades can be in the order of 20% to 30% per annum. Don’t fall for the trap many Peterborough landlords fall into and upgrade without speaking to a property professional.