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Tuesday 26 November 2019

Labour Party’s U-turn on the £1.5bn grab on Southampton landlord’s wallets

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

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

Yet it was not certain who would have been expected to pay for discounts on buy to let homes sold to tenants. Four years ago, Jeremy Corbyn advocated using the £14bn of tax allowances that UK landlords had at the time to pay for these discounts, allowing tenants to buy their tenanted home at the same discount as they would a local authority home without leaving the landlord out of pocket.
However, these tax allowances have been substantially reduced with the changes in the way mortgage interest relief on landlords’ mortgages is calculated, meaning that this method of funding would no longer be feasible. In fact, bankrolling a project at a modest 20% discount for the whole of the UK would cost £177.84bn; a lot more than the £14billion quoted by Mr Corbyn. So, what would that policy cost Southampton landlords?
Labours policy of 20% Right to Buy discount could
cost Southampton landlords £1,463,810,960

 … and if Southampton tenants got the maximum discount of 35% that Council tenants have with the Right to Buy scheme that would cost Southampton landlords £2,561,669,180.

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

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

Of the 25,247 rental properties in Southampton, 6,892 are owned by Southampton landlords with 6 or more properties in their portfolio

To target these larger scale landlords, who would unquestionably leave the property market in their hordes if their buy to let investments could be so easily destabilised. There would be mass sell offs before the legislation became law, thus making the tenants homeless (and who would house them??) ..and even if that didn’t happen, it would be very damaging and someone (probably landlords) would have to stump up the £48.54bn national bill (£399,595,400 in Southampton alone).

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

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

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

Next week I will be focusing on the Conservative Party Policy and what difference that will make to our Southampton Property Market. You can read the article on the link below.

If you would like to pick my brains on the Southampton Property Market – pop in for a coffee or drop me a line on social media or email. 

If you are looking for an agent that is well establishedprofessional and communicative, 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.

Friday 22 November 2019

Mending the Broken Southampton Property Market

The long-lasting issue of the Southampton property market are laid bare as the final 2018 property transaction figures have just been published and they continue the post credit crunch trend of less people moving.

34.3% less of Southampton people are selling their homes annually since the credit crunch, when compared to the post Millennium years of 2000 to 2005

This is not just an issue of the Southampton housing market slowing down since the credit crunch - the challenge is to split out shorter-term factors such as Brexit and the elections from longer-term structural issues of the UK society, because when these most recent property transaction figures are seen against longer-term trends for Southampton, they suggest more significant issues in the Southampton housing market.

In the late 1990’s, 4,586 properties were sold annually in the Southampton area, then in the same area, the Millennium boom saw transactions rise to 5,295 per annum. Property sales then more than halved to 2,628 per annum in the challenge of the global financial crash and subsequent retrenchment of the mortgage market. Post credit crunch (2012 and beyond) locally, on average, 3,471 properties have sold annually.

So, whilst there was a recovery from 2013 onwards, it was rather uninspiring when compared to the pre-credit crunch years, with a lacklustre performance in property transactions since mid 2010’s.

You might ask why we should be concerned about the number of property transactions and not the change in property values?

The number of transaction numbers are a far more exact bellwether for the health and potency of the local housing market.

As less people have been selling their homes locally, this is not only bad for the Southampton housing market but for the economy locally, especially when you consider how many allied businesses (builders, decorators, solicitors, removal vans, estate agents, mortgage arrangers and other people) lose out as a result.

Some say the deficiency of supply of property, mainly affordable first-time buyer property, is the chief reason why transaction figures remain stubbornly low. Others suggest the absence of suitable housing stock up the property ladder (particularly bungalows for the older generation), combined with rising demand, is causing a bottleneck in our local housing market.

I know there has been much talk from Westminster about grand home-building programmes, yet we now require them to deliver on these undertakings and even then, it will be a few decades before we see a seismic change in the Southampton property market.

In the short-term, a quicker improvement may come from modifications to stamp duty. First time buyers don’t need to pay Stamp Duty up to a certain level, yet those Stamp Duty concessions could be extended to those mature homeowners looking to downsize. This could liberate a meaningful number of mature family homes occupied principally by these mature generation and the tax lost through Stamp Duty could be replenished by a revaluation of the Council Tax bands?

Council Tax bandings were set in 1991 and the seven bands, the highest band starts at £320,000 (based on 1991 values). It seems irrational to us that upper value band, set in the 1991 revaluations, has not been increased, particularly as house prices in London have risen by over 400 per cent during in the last 25 years.

That would mean higher tax for those who don’t move yet less tax for those that do move - because we believe it would boost a far more liquid Southampton property market.

Just a thought of mending the local property market - what are your thoughts?

If you would like to pick my brains on the Southampton Property Market – pop in for a coffee or drop me a line on social media or email. 

If you are looking for an agent that is well establishedprofessional and communicative, 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.

Friday 15 November 2019

How long is an average Southampton property on the market for?


If you are either selling or buying a property in Southampton, there are a few reasons why it may be taking some time to sell your Southampton home or find that perfect place to call your new home. It may be taking longer than you thought to find a buyer for your home because of the current state of the property market or finding that perfect Southampton home may be taking too long because of a lack of properties to buy.

So, taking everything into consideration, all of these factors invite an obvious question; how long is too long to persist in the Southampton property market?

If you are looking to sell your Southampton property, it may have become infuriating when your home has been on the market for longer than you anticipated. Perhaps the property market is purely in a position where it's challenging to get a property sold quickly, or sold at the price you want to achieve for it. If you do live in a Southampton home that is towards the upper reaches of the price band, you have to be open to the idea that because it's worth so much more than the average property in Southampton and so more than most individuals can afford, you will have to wait longer to get it sold.

Your Southampton home might be taking longer to sell because your asking price is simply too high. Even if you are prepared to take a realistic offer, if you have an unrealistic asking price your overpriced Southampton property will undoubtedly turn off potential buyers from even being inclined to book a viewing.

Looking at the market in Southampton compared to a year ago makes very interesting reading…

When it comes to the average length of time on the market, all the property types in Southampton appear to be taking longer to sell.

The overall average length of time a Southampton property remains on the market has risen by 20.5%, from 61 days a year to 74 days today

The question that remains is, if you are having no luck selling, should you leave your Southampton property on the market or not? This is basically down to your personal circumstances - a big decider has to be if you are moving up market or downsizing.

Buyers will compare your Southampton property to all the other homes on the market using the portals such as Rightmove, On the Market and Zoopla and even if your asking price is realistic, if your marketing (brochures, pictures, even video walk through) isn’t top dollar, they will dismiss your property.

Remember, the average buyer only views 4.5 properties before they buy and on average, each buyer will only spend just over 25 minutes viewing each home  …

The more properties that are on the market, the greater the choice for buyers (yet more competition for house sellers), so we wanted to look at how many homes were for sale in Southampton now, compared to 12 months ago.

As you can see, there are some differences between the property types in Southampton.

As for buying a Southampton property, searching for that dream house can take time as you have to consider the needs of your spouse, children, schooling, etc., what you can realistically afford and whether your current location can accommodate you until you find that perfect Southampton home.

Don’t forget that upwards of 10% of homes do not make it to the portals (the portals are Rightmove, Zoopla and On the Market), so don’t just rely on the portals to let you know what is coming on the market. The number of times I speak to disappointed buyers who missed out because other buyers registered directly with the agent for property, whilst they relied on the portals.

When it comes to buying a Southampton home, and so you do not make any decisions you will regret later on, taking your time is always the more practical option. The amount of money that is involved in buying a home and all the costs connected with it means that you should not rush into buying or selling without due consideration.

If you would like to pick my brains on the Southampton Property Market – pop in for a coffee or drop me a line on social media or email. 

If you are looking for an agent that is well establishedprofessional and communicative, 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.

Monday 11 November 2019

As a Landlord have you done enough to reduce the likelihood of a fire in your rental property?

Landlords must ensure that their property is safe from various hazards, so their tenants are safe in the property. Here are a quick 8 points you should consider when assessing the risk of fire in your rental property:

1.       Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Ensure there is a smoke alarm on each floor, and they are tested at the start of each tenancy and encourage the tenants to check the smoke alarms on a monthly basis. Although carbon monoxide alarms are only legally required where a solid fuel burner is installed, we would strongly recommend that they are installed in all properties with a gas boiler as well. They cost about £10 and you can sleep easy knowing your tenants are safe.

2.       Fire Blankets / Fire Extinguishers.
Fire blankets are a must in every kitchen, do make sure they are placed in an accessible location so they can be reached quickly and are not too close to the cooker.

Fire extinguishers can be really valuable in case of fire, but it is worth checking with your council on this as some fire departments aren’t keen on them as it encourages tenants to re-enter the property and fight the fire which can lead to fatalities. If they are in the property make sure they are serviced, and the tenants are trained in there use. The best policy is Get out, stay out and call 999.

3.       Fire Risk Assessments.
These can often be overlooked when letting out a property. The assessment will identify the causes of fires and assess the likelihood that a fire could break out in a property. They will show the potential hazards and the precautions you could take to mitigate these risks. Don’t forget that the risk varies depending upon the tenants you have in the property i.e. elderly, young with babies, disabilities etc.

4.       Access to Escape Routes.
Should a fire break out, tenants must have a safe and reliable way to escape, especially in HMO properties which can get cluttered with bikes, furniture etc

5.       Fire safe furnishings
When a property is rented furnished a landlord must ensure that it meets fire safety standards and is made from fire resistant materials. This information can usually be found by checking that the manufactures label carries a fire safety symbol.

6.       Electrical safety
Landlords must ensure that electrical wiring, sockets and fuse boxes are safe throughout the tenancy, however there is currently no legal requirement to have this checked professionally! (unlike gas where you must have an annual gas safety inspection). Hopefully a new government will make this test mandatory as it is for HMO properties, this is where standards need to be driven in the private rented sector.

7.       Portable appliance testing.
Landlords need to ensure that any electrical appliances provided are in a safe working order. The check should be visible (signs of damage or wear) and operational. Although not compulsory it is highly recommended to ensure your tenants are safe in your property.

8.       Ban smoking inside.
Most people are now accustomed to smoking outside in bars and restaurants, so banning them from smoking inside a residential property is no big stretch. A study a few years back found that cigarettes were responsible for one-in-three deaths related to accidental house fires. It will also have a beneficial affect on your decoration, carpets etc

Friday 8 November 2019

66.7% of Southampton OAP’s own their own home … and they are worth £4,387.9m

Yes, that number is staggering isn’t it ….

Of the 23,195 households in Southampton where the head of the household is 65 years or older, an astounding 15,461 (or 66.7%) of those are owned, which is below the national average of 74.1%, which sounds great – yet nothing could be further from the truth.

I chat with many Southampton pensioners who would like to move but cannot, as there is a scarcity of such properties for Southampton mature people to downsize into.  Due to their scarcity and high demand, Southampton bungalows on average get a 12% to 22% premium per square metre premium over two storey properties.  To add insult to injury, a recent NHBC reported that only 1% of new builds in the Country were single storey bungalows (compared to 7% in the mid 1990’s).

Southampton OAP’s are sitting on £4,387.9m of equity in these Southampton homes

In a survey conducted a couple of years ago by YouGov, they established that just over one third of homeowning people aged 65 and over in the Country were looking to downsize into a smaller home. Yet, the Tory’s over the last nine years have appeared to target all their attention on first-time buyers with stratagems such as Starter Homes to safeguard the youngsters of the UK not becoming perpetual members of ‘Generation Rent’.   Equally though, this doesn’t address the long-lasting under-supply of suitable retirement housing essential to the needs of the Southampton’s hastily ageing population.  Lamentably, the Southampton’s housing stock is tragically unprepared for this demographic shift to the 'overextended middle age’, and this has created a new 'Generation Confined’ quandary where older people cannot move.

Also, those older Southampton retirees’ who do live in the limited number of Southampton bungalows are finding it difficult to live on their own, as they are unable to leave their bungalow because of a lack of sheltered housing and ‘affordable’ care home places.

Meaning those older Southampton retirees can't leave their Southampton bungalows, younger Southampton retirees in their larger 2 storey family houses can't buy those Southampton bungalows (occupied by the older retirees) and those Southampton people in the 30’s and 40’s can't buy those larger 2 storey family houses (occupied by the younger retirees) they need to for their growing families ... it’s like everyone is waiting for everyone because of the bottleneck at the top.
For those wanting to see the complete stats for Southampton as whole …

Southampton’s (and the rest of the UK’s) property prices have soared over the last 50 years because the number of properties built has not kept up with demand.  With restrictive planning regulations, migration, people living longer and excessive divorce rates (meaning one family becomes two) we need, as a Country, 240,000 properties to be built a year since the Millennium to just stand still.

At the turn of the Millennium, the Country was constructing on average 180,000 to 190,000 households a year, that figure dropped in the five years after the Credit Crunch to 135,000 and 145,000 households a year.  Although we built 217,000 last year, we still have all those 19 years to make up for.

The answer …. allow more land for starter homes, bungalows and sheltered accommodation because land prices are stifling the property market as the large building firms are more likely to focus on traditional houses and apartments than bungalows (because they make more money from them).

My thoughts for the savvy Southampton property investors  – until the Government change the planning rules and allow more land to be built on – Bungalows, especially ones that need some TLC after someone has passed away bungalows are a great bet for flipping and even potential rental returns for future property investment as more and more OAP’s will be renting in the decades to come?

If you would like to pick my brains on the Southampton Property Market – pop in for a coffee or drop me a line on social media or email. 

If you are looking for an agent that is well establishedprofessional and communicative, 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.