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Wednesday 27 December 2017

One in 30 rental properties in the Southampton area will be illegal in 2018

As the winter months draw in and the temperature starts to drop, keeping one’s home warm is vital. Yet, with the price of gas and electricity rising quicker than a Saturn V rocket and gas, oil and electricity taking on average 4.4% of a typical Brit’s pay packet (and for those Brit’s with the lowest 10% of incomes, that rockets to an eye watering 9.7%), whether you are a tenant or homeowner, keeping your energy costs as low as possible is vital for the household budget and the environment as a whole.

For the last 10 years, every private rental property must have an Energy-Performance-Certificate (EPC) rating.  The property is given an energy rating (very similar to those on washing machines and fridges with the rainbow coloured graph) of between A and G, A being the most efficient and G the worst. New legislation comes into force next spring (2018) for English and Welsh private landlords making it illegal to let a property that does not meet a certain energy rating. After the 1st of April next year, any new tenant moving into a private rented property, or an existing tenant renewing their tenancy, must have property with an energy performance rating of E or above on the property’s EPC. The new law will apply for all prevailing tenancies in the spring of 2020. After April 2018, if a landlord lets a property in the ‘F’ and ‘G’ ratings (i.e. those properties with the worst energy ratings) Trading Standards could fine the landlord up to £4,000.

Personally, I have grave apprehensions that many Southampton landlords may be totally unaware that their Southampton rental properties could fall below these new legal minimum requirements for energy efficiency benchmarks. Whilst some households may require substantial works to get their Southampton property from an F/G rating to an E rating or above, my experience is most properties may only need some minor work to lift them from illegal to legal. By planning and acting now, it will mitigate the need to find tradespeople in the spring when every other Southampton landlord will be panicking and paying top dollar for work, in order to comply.

Whilst there is money and effort involved in upgrading the energy efficiency of rental property, a property that is energy efficient will have greater appeal to tenants and other buy-to-let landlords/investors and this will enable you to obtain higher rents and sale price (when you come to sell your investment).

So, how many properties are there in the area that are F and G rated... well quite a few in fact. Looking at the whole of the Southampton City Council area, of the 24,449 privately rented properties, there are...

662 rental properties in the F banding
148 rental properties in the G banding

That means just over one in 30 rental properties in the Southampton and surrounding area has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. From April next year it will be illegal to rent out those homes rated F and G homes with a new tenancy.

Talking with the Energy Assessors that carry out our EPC’s, they tell me most of a building’s heat is lost through draughty windows/doors or poor insulation in the roof and walls. So why not look at your EPC and see what the assessor suggested to improve the efficiency of your property? I can find the EPC of every rental property in Southampton, so irrespective of whether you are a client of mine or not, don’t hesitate to contact me via email (or phone) if you need some guidance on finding out the EPC rating or need a trustworthy contractor that can help you out?

If you are looking for an agent that is well establishedprofessional andcommunicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

Email me on or call on 023 8001 8222.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Southampton Property News.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

The Southampton House Price Index: 145.63

The other day I had the most interesting conversation with a local Southampton accountant, who asked me about my articles on the Southampton property market. It was quite humbling to be given praise by such a professional, when he commented enthusiastically on the articles I write. He was particularly interested in the graphs, facts and figures contained within them, so much so that he recommends his clients read them, as most of them are either Southampton homeowners, Southampton landlords or oftentimes both. However, one question that kept me on my toes was, “With so many house price indices, how do you know which one to use and how can you calculate what is exactly happening in Southampton?”.

To start with, there are indeed a great number of these indices, including the Land Registry, Office of National Stats, Halifax, Nationwide and LSL to name but a few. The issue occurs when these different house price indices give diverse pictures of the state of the UK housing market. Whilst some indices measure the average value of every property in the UK (sold or unsold), others measure the average ‘price-paid’ of houses that happen to be sold over a fixed time scale… confusing isn’t it!

A lot of the variance between house price indices occurs because of the distinctive ways in which the numerous indices endeavour to beat these issues. You see, the biggest problem in creating a house price index, when comparing and contrasting with most other indexes, (e.g. inflation where the price is a ubiquitous tin of Beans which can easily be measured over the months and years), is that every home is unique. And as Southampton people are only moving every 13 years, it appears the only thing that can be measured is the price of property sold in a given month.

By their very nature, all of the indices are only able to paint a picture of the whole of the UK or, at best, the regional housing market. As I have said many times in my articles on the Southampton property market, it is important to look to the medium term when considering house price inflation/deflation. When looking at the month-to-month jumps, many indices look like one of those jumpy lie-detector needles you see in the cold war movies! 

I can guarantee you that in the coming few months, on a month-by-month basis, one or more of the indices will say that property prices will have dropped. Let me tell you, no property market indices are representative of the housing market in the short term. Many indices have shown a drop around the Christmas and New Year months, even during the boom years of 2001 to 2007 and 2013 to 2015.

So, back to the question, how do we work out what is happening in the Southampton Property Market and can there be a Southampton House Price Index?

To calculate what I consider is a fair and proper house price index for Southampton, I initially needed to decide on a starting place for the index. I have chosen 2008 as far enough back, but still giving us a medium/long term view. Next, I split all the house sales into their types (Detached/Semi/House /Apartment) to give us an indication of what is actually selling by postcode district. So, for example, below is a table for the SO15 postcode district (the sample shows 2008, 2016 and 2017.

Proj 2017
Semi Detached

Then I look at the actual numbers of properties sold in the SO15 postcode district. Below is the graph with the numbers for the aforementioned years.

Next, I have looked at the prices paid for the different property types during every year since 2008 again, in this example, using the sample years of 2008, 2016 and 2017 for the SO15 postcode.

Finally, I amalgamated the same data points for the other postcode districts covered by Southampton and the surrounding villages, weighted it accordingly, to produce the Southampton House Price Index ... which after all that work, currently stands at 145.63 for Q4 2017 (Q4 2008 = 100).

I hope you found that of interest. Over the coming months and seasons I shall refer back to the Southampton House Price Index within my Southampton Property Blog to give you a flavour of what is really happening in the Southampton Property Market

If you are looking for an agent that is well establishedprofessional andcommunicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

Email me on or call on 023 8001 8222.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Southampton Property News.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Increase in Interest Rates to cost Southampton Home Owners £276.06 a year

Southampton homeowners will be among those affected by the latest rise in the Bank of England interest rates. The first increase in 10 years; they have just been raised from 0.25 percent to 0.5 per cent. This uplift comes as inflation hits a 51-month high of 2.9 per cent whilst the national unemployment rate is at an all-time low of 4.3 per cent.
Interestingly, the Governor of the Bank of England has indicated that the interest rate is likely to increase again over the next couple of years, but Mr Carney said mortgages and savings would not be affected in the short term. However, look at all the big banks and just about all of them have increased their standard variable mortgage rate..  

The average Southampton mortgage is £110,425

I have to ask by how much Southampton homeowners (on variable rate or tracker mortgages) will see their repayments increase?

In the SO14 - SO19 postcodes there are 29,613 homeowners with a mortgage, of which 12,722 have a variable rate mortgage (the remaining have fixed rate mortgages). The total amount owed by those SO14 - SO19 homeowners with those variable rate mortgages is £1,404,800,952, meaning the average monthly mortgage payment for those home owners on variable rate mortgages before the interest rate rise was £861.01 per month and now its £884.01 per month … meaning

The interest rate rise will cost Southampton
homeowners on average an extra £276.06 per year

Whilst this is the first raise in interest rates in over 10 years, it must be noted it is at a significantly low level compared to figures in the 1970s and early 1990s. Many of my readers talk of interest rates at 17 per cent when Sir Geoffrey Howe increased them to try and combat the hyperinflation (from the fallout of the financial crisis that hit Britain in the 1970’s) and Norman Lamont in September 1992 with the infamous Black Wednesday crisis, when interest rates were raised from 10% to 15% in just one day.
So, what will this interest rate actually do to the Southampton housing market?
Well, if I’m being frank – not a great deal. The proportion of Southampton homeowners with variable rate mortgages (and thus directly affected by a Bank of England rate rise) will be smaller than in the past, in part because the vast majority of new mortgages in recent years were taken on fixed interest rates. The proportion of outstanding mortgages on variable rates has fallen to a record low of 42.3 per cent, down from a peak of 72.9 per cent in the autumn of 2011.
If more Southampton people are protected from interest rate rises, because they are on a fixed rate mortgage, then there is less chance of those Southampton people having to sell their Southampton properties because they can’t afford the monthly repayments or even worse case scenario, have them repossessed.
However, and this will be of interest to both Southampton homeowners and Southampton buy to let landlords …
.. for every 1% increase in the Bank of England interest rate, it will cost the average Southampton homeowner on a variable rate mortgage £92.02 per month

So, what next? Because UK inflation levels are at 2.9 per cent (the country’s highest rate since April 2012) and the Bank of England is tasked by HM Government to keep inflation at 2 per cent using various monetary tools (one of which is interest rates) – you can see why interest rate rises might be on the cards in the future as increasing interest rates tends to dampen inflation.

Now of course there is a certain amount of uncertainty with regard to Brexit and the negotiations thereof, but fundamentally the British economy is in decent shape. People will always need housing and as we aren’t building enough houses (as I have mentioned many times in the Southampton Property Blog), we might see a slight dip in prices in the short term, but in the medium to long term, the Southampton property market will always remain strong for both Southampton homeowners and Southampton landlords alike.

If you are looking for an agent that is well establishedprofessional andcommunicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

Email me on or call on 023 8001 8222.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Southampton Property News.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Southampton Homeowners Are Only Moving Every 13 Years (part 2)

In the credit crunch of 2008/9 the rate of home moving plunged to its lowest level ever. In 2009 the rate at which a typical house would change hands slumped to only once in every 19.5 years. The biggest reason being that confidence was low and many homeowners didn’t want to sell their home, as Southampton property prices plunged after the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. However, since 2009 the rate of home moving has increased (see the table and graph below) meaning that today:

The average period of time between home moves in
Southampton is now 13 years.

This is an increase of 47.77% between the credit crunch fallout year of 2009 and today, but still it is a 37.44% drop in moves by homeowners, compared to 15 years ago during the noughties.


So why aren’t Southampton homeowners moving as much as they did in the noughties?

The causes of the current state of play are numerous. In last weeks article I talked about how ‘real’ incomes and savings had been dropping. Another issue is the long-term reduction in the number of properties being built. Only a few weeks ago in the blog, I was discussing the draconian planning rules meaning house builders struggle to locate building land to actually build on.

Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as a country, we were building on average 300,000 and 350,000 households a year respectively. The Barker Review a few years ago said that for the UK to keep up with rising housing demand,  due to immigration, people living longer, an almost 50% increase in the number of households with a single person since the 1980’s and family makeup (i.e. divorce makes one household now two), we needed to build 240,000 households a year. Over the last few years we have only been building between 135,000 and 150,000 households a year.

Finally, as the UK Population gets older, there is no getting away from the fact that a maturing population is a less mobile one.

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

Well, if Southampton people are less inclined to move or find it hard to sell a property or acquire a new one, they are probably less likely to move to an improved job or a more prosperous part of the UK.

Many of the older generation in Southampton are stuck in property that is simply too big for their needs. The fact is that, in Southampton, nearly four out of every ten (or 38.2 per cent) owned houses has two or more spare bedrooms; or to be more exact ...

19,048 of the 49,886 owned households in the Southampton
area have two or more spare bedrooms.

So, as their children and grandchildren struggle to move up the housing ladder, with those young families bursting at the seams in homes too small for them i.e. overcrowding, we have a severe case of under-occupation within the older generation - grandparents staying put in their bigger homes, with a profusion of spare bedrooms.

Regrettably, I cannot see how the rate of properties being sold will rise any time soon. Many commentators have suggested the Government should give tax breaks to allow the older generation to downsize, yet in a recent White Paper on housing published just weeks before the General Election, there was no reference of any thoughtful and detailed policies to inspire or support them to do so.

This means that there could be an opportunity for Southampton buy to let landlords to secure larger properties to rent out, as the demand for them will surely grow over the coming years. As for homeowners; well those in the lower and middle Southampton market will find it a balanced sellers/buyers market, but will find it slightly more a buyers market in the upper price bands.

Interesting times ahead!

If you are looking for an agent that is well establishedprofessional andcommunicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

Email me on or call on 023 8001 8222.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Southampton Property News.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Southampton Home Owners Are Only Moving Every 13 Years (Part 1)

As I mentioned in a previous article, the average house price in Southampton is 6.77 times the average annual Southampton salary. This is higher than the last peak of 2008, when the ratio was 6.02. A number of City commentators anticipated that in the ambiguity that trailed the Brexit vote, UK (and hence Southampton) property prices might drop like a stone. The point is, they haven’t!

Now, it’s true that the market for Southampton’s swankiest and poshest properties looks a little fragile (although they are selling if they are realistically priced) and, overall, Southampton property price growth has slowed, but the lower to middle Southampton property market appears to be quite strong.

Scratch under the surface though and a different long-term picture is emerging, away from what is happening to property prices. Southampton people are moving home less often than they once did. Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that the number of properties sold in 2016 is again much lower than it was in the Noughties. My statistics show…

The Total Number of Property Sales Per Annum in the Southampton
City Council Area Since 1995


Even though we are not anywhere near the post credit crunch (2008 and 2009) low levels of property sales, the torpor of the Southampton housing market following the 2016 Brexit vote has seen the number of property sales in Southampton and the surrounding local authority area level off to what appears to be the start of a new long term trend (compared the Noughties).

Interestingly, it was the 1980’s that saw the highest levels of people moving home. Nationally, everyone was moving, on average, every decade. Even though it was during the Labour administration of the late 1970’s where the right to buy one’s council house started, it was the Housing Act of 1980 that really got council tenants moving, as Thatcher’s Tory government financially encouraged council tenants to buy their council-rented homes, of which countless new owners then sold them on for a profit and moved elsewhere. The housing market was awash with money as banks were allowed to offer mortgages as well as the existing building societies, making it simpler for Brits to borrow even more money on mortgages and to climb up the housing ladder.

But coming back to today, looking at the property sales figures in the Southampton area since 2010/11, a new trend in the number of property sales appears to have started. Interestingly, this has been mirrored nationally. The reasons behind this are complex, but a good place to start is the growth rate of real UK household disposable income, which has fallen from 5.01% in 2000 to 1.68% in 2016. Also, things have deteriorated since the country voted to leave the EU as consumer price inflation has risen to 2.7% per annum; meaning inflation has eaten away at the real value of wages as they have only grown by 1.1% in the same time frame.

With meagre real income growth, it has become more difficult for homeowners to accumulate the savings needed to climb up the housing ladder as the level of saving has also dropped from 4.26% of household income to -1.11% (i.e. people are eating into their savings).

Next week I will be discussing how these and other issues, has meant the level of Southampton people moving home has slumped to once in every 13 years.

If you are looking for an agent that is well establishedprofessional andcommunicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

Email me on or call on 023 8001 8222.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Southampton Property News.