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February 24, 2017

Nearly a decade since the global financial crisis, how is the Exeter property market coping?

Filed under: Latest News — Instinctif Partners @ 3:21 pm

Richard Addington, Director at Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Exeter branch, comments on this month’s House Price Index figures (Office for National Statistics) and how they relate to the long term trends in the property market.

While it has been nearly a decade since the global financial crisis and subsequent fall in most markets (including the property market in the West Country) these events still hold relevance in the market today. The events of that time can now, with the benefit of hindsight, be seen to be the beginnings of a fundamental change in attitudes towards property. This month’s review of house prices by the ONS and Land Registry helps to confirm some interesting trends and long term changes to the housing market.

The ONS headline figure proclaims that national average prices rose 7.2% in the year up to December 2016. This figure masks massive differences around the country as well the differing price bands. While the ONS data does not break down by price band or geographically more locally than the figures for local authority areas, it becomes obvious when looking across the country (outside of London and the South East) that the areas that have increased in price fastest are the urban areas such as Bristol, Southampton, Oxford and Cambridge, which are up to 40% ahead over the last decade. In the West Country, average prices in Exeter are up 20% but in local authority areas that don’t have large urban centres of population, such as Torridge, West Devon and Mid Devon, average prices are still at (or slightly less than) where they were a decade ago. In Devon, house prices are now only about 8% ahead of their peak in October 2007 although they rose on average 6% last year.

What does this tell us about the long term trends in the market? At Jackson Stops & Staff, we have noticed anecdotal evidence of the trend that is borne out by these figures. That is a trend facing away from the countryside to instead look at, urban or close to urban, village living.  What is not shown by the figures is a move towards more modern styling and away from older (and more expensive to maintain) properties. It is worth noting that I can currently think of three vendors who are either moving or planning to move from a larger and older country house to plots on which they will build their own homes.

These two influences on the market tie in with the demographic movement of the average age of home owners and their changing requirements. The overwhelming equity in national housing stock is owned by the over-60s, so it is the requirement of this age group, which is driving the fastest growth in the market. They are fuelling the demand for urban property, where amenities are more on hand, and for easily managed property which is more likely to be new or modern. This demographic movement is also affecting the price bands that are seeing the strongest demand. Those trading down have the strongest buying power so it is the market just below “the top” where there is most demand and competition. This effect is indeed so strong that the gap between “the top” and the next rung down is closing and has already started to disappear altogether in some instances.

February 8, 2017

Housing White Paper: SMEs, ISAs and a lack of SDLT changes

Filed under: Latest News — Instinctif Partners @ 3:16 pm

Our chairman Nick Leeming comments on the Housing White Paper:

I don’t think I was the only one who experienced a sense of déjà vu yesterday. The content of the long-awaited Housing White Paper didn’t come as a shock to the property industry and that’s because we have heard many of these policies before. Frankly, it isn’t the catalyst for a housing revolution that it could have been, but it does show that this Government is taking the issue seriously. Whether this is too little too late will become clearer once the consultation period is over – and hopefully the final plans have some teeth!

The White Paper did however mark a shift in tone and the Government has now well and truly thrown in the towel on the UK as a nation of homeowners. The heady days of home ownership enjoyed by the baby boomers and Generation X are now behind us, to be replaced by an age of tenure neutrality. It was disappointing that the Government decided not to address stamp duty. It would have been refreshing to see, for example, a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers to aid overall affordability or (even better) an easing across the board of stamp duty levels, which would have given the property market the boost it needs. High value property continues to suffer, which impacts fluidity at all levels.

Yet it is not all doom and gloom.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government has a real drive to build more homes, which we haven’t seen in a while, and I believe this drive will continue as we move further into the year. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, reminded us in his speech that an average 250,000 new homes need to be built each year to meet demand. In this vein it is positive to see further support for developers, in particular SMEs. It is vital that small and medium-sized housebuilders have the right tools to grow.

With backing from government SMEs are in the perfect position to get the vital support needed from stakeholders to build new homes quickly, efficiently and to the standard and design the local community want. Given their flexibility, SMEs are able to embrace new designs for homes that sensitively reflect their surroundings while also providing local communities with a platform to share their thoughts on the look and feel of new developments. I am confident this will help speed up planning and delivery to get much-needed new homes on the market.

Despite a move away from home ownership as an overriding focus, the Paper also brought some welcome news for first-time buyers. Launching in April, the Lifetime ISA will help young adults save for the future, while Help to Buy and Starter Homes schemes continue to be a great helping hand for those looking to get their foot on the property ladder. With so many first-time buyers unable to take that first step onto the property ladder, it is imperative that we continue to increase support if we are to start to overcome the housing crisis, but at the same time a major increase in the number of homes in the UK is vital.