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Wednesday 28 February 2024

Five Top Reasons Southampton Home Sales Collapse And How To Avoid Them

The journey of buying or selling a property is often filled with anticipation and excitement.

However, it can also be fraught with unexpected challenges that might cause a sale to fall through.

As experienced local estate agents, we’ve seen our fair share of transactions fall by the wayside.

This article shares insights on why these issues arise but, more importantly, how to avoid them.

Financial hiccups

One of the most common deal-breakers is financial issues. This could be anything from a buyer’s mortgage falling through to unexpected costs cropping up. To safeguard against this, buyers should have a mortgage agreement in principle before making an offer. Sellers should ensure their agent conducts thorough financial vetting of potential buyers.

Chain pain

Property chains can be complex and fragile. If one transaction in the chain fails, it can have a domino effect. Keeping communication open and having an agent with a proactive approach can mitigate these risks. This is why chain-free buyers, who don’t have to sell a property to finance a purchase, are more attractive to some sellers.

Survey snags

Surveys can uncover potential problems, such as structural defects and electrical issues, which might cause a buyer to reconsider. As a seller, consider conducting a pre-sale survey to identify and address potential problems beforehand. Buyers should use survey results as a negotiation tool rather than a deal-breaker if they’ve got their heart set on a home.

Legal delays

Legal complexities can slow down or derail a transaction. Working with experienced, reliable solicitors who specialise in property law is crucial. Ensure that all your documentation is in order before going on the market, and be responsive to any requests for information from your estate agent.

Cold feet

Sometimes, buyers or sellers get cold feet. This is where the ‘contact sport’ element of estate agency comes into play. A good agent regularly contacts and reassures people involved in the deal, which helps keep everyone committed to the transaction.

Staying the course

Remember, knowledge is valuable in property transactions. By being prepared and aware of these common pitfalls, you can navigate the process more smoothly.

As your local estate agent, we’re here to guide you every step of the way, ensuring your property journey is as seamless and successful as possible. Contact us on 023 8001 8222.

Monday 26 February 2024

Top Renovation Tips For Southampton Landlords

Planning to renovate your rental? There’s one thing you should know before you start pulling up carpets or ripping out cabinets.

It will help you avoid a costly and avoidable mistake that many landlords make, and it’s this.

Don’t let your emotions cloud your decision-making.

It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many landlords lose sight of the fact that they’re supposed to be making business decisions. As a result, they do one or more of these things:

  • Spend more than they need to.
  • Spend cash in the wrong areas.
  • Wind up with a longer void period than necessary.
  • Do a sub-standard job that requires repairs.
  • Put off doing much-needed work.
  • Here are some tips to help you stay on track.

Identify your market – Don’t decorate to your personal tastes. Consider who will most likely rent your property – students, families or professionals – and renovate to suit this demographic. A bespoke kitchen might be justified if you’re targeting wealthy professionals, but not if you’re renting to students.

Neutral tones – If you’re yearning to make a bold interior design statement, do it in your own home, not your rental. Prospective tenants may not share your tastes and could be put off by your aesthetic choices.

Go beyond the cosmetic – Do the locks need fixing? Are the fences wobbly? Does the boiler need replacing? It can be tempting to blow your budget on sexy, eye-catching features, but don’t overlook the basics.

Family matters –If you have a strong emotional attachment to the property (perhaps it was your former family home), don’t let sentiment misguide you. You must separate any nostalgic feelings from your duties as a landlord.

Be practical – A rental will always be subject to wear and tear, so opt for durable products and steer clear of light wall colours and flooring that will get mucky quickly.

Be realistic – Not even the best tenants in the world will treat the property exactly as you would, so look for low-maintenance solutions. This is particularly relevant if you have outdoor space, as garden maintenance is a common cause of disputes.

Avoid false economies – While some landlords go overboard and spend too much, others don’t spend enough. For example, tiles are easy to clean and don’t attract mould, so it can make sense to tile the entire bathroom to prevent issues from arising.

Don’t be a DIY hero – Instead of paying a tradesperson to do work, some landlords consider it a personal challenge to do as much as they can themselves. This means work can take longer than necessary or it isn’t done to a professional standard.

Friday 23 February 2024

36.7% Of Southampton Households Are 3-Bedroom Homes. Is That Enough?

As an estate and letting agent with a keen eye on local Southampton property trends, it becomes imperative to delve into the nuanced landscape of property types, mainly through the lens of bedroom distribution across various tenures.

This analysis enriches the knowledge base of Southampton homeowners and landlords and positions them advantageously in making informed decisions.

At the heart of this exploration lies the categorisation of properties based on tenure: owner-occupied, owner-occupied with a mortgage, privately rented, and social housing. When dissected by the number of bedrooms – one, two, three, and four or more – each category reveals insightful trends that I can compare with local and national housing narratives.

Understanding this breakdown is crucial for Southampton homeowners as it sheds light on the current demand and supply dynamics within Southampton.

It offers a glimpse into which types of properties are most sought after. For instance, a surge in smaller, one or two-bedroom privately rented properties might indicate a rising demand from young professionals or smaller families, a demographic trend that has been observed nationally. Conversely, a prevalence of larger, owner-occupied homes could reflect a community with a significant number of established families valuing space and comfort.

On the other hand, Southampton landlords stand to gainimmensely from this granular analysis.

The bedroom distribution across privately rented sectors can guide investment decisions, highlighting portfolio diversification or consolidation opportunities. For instance, a Southampton landlord noticing an undersupply in three-bedroom rental properties might consider acquiring or converting properties to fill this gap, thereby meeting market demand and enhancing rental yields. Our local authority, Southampton City Council, will also find it helpful to compare their housing stock against the private rented sector.

Moreover, comparing these local insights with national statistics offers a broader context, allowing Southampton’s property stakeholders to benchmark against broader trends. Such comparisons can reveal whether Southampton is moving in tandem with national shifts – like the growing preference for more space post-pandemic – or if it harbours unique local preferences that could be leveraged for competitive advantage.

Let’s look at the distribution of properties under tenure in the Southampton area, comparing them against the national stats.

In the Southampton area …

  • 20.59% of Southampton homes are 1 bed households, compared to 11.4% nationally.
  • 30.17% of Southampton homes are 2 bed households, compared to 27.1% nationally.
  • 36.7% of Southampton homes are 3 bed households, compared to 40.4% nationally.
  • 12.54% of Southampton homes are 4+ bed households, compared to 21.1% nationally.

Next, let me look at the distribution over the tenures in Southampton …

  • 22.53% of Southampton homes are owned outright, compared to 32.8% nationally.
  • 26.25% of Southampton homes are owned with a mortgage, compared to 28.7% nationally.
  • 21.9% of Southampton homes are social rented (Council & Housing Association), compared to 17.1% nationally.
  • 29.32% of Southampton homes are privately rented, compared to 20.3% nationally.

And now let’s look at household tenure by bedrooms.

As an estate and letting agent with a keen eye on local Southampton property trends, it becomes imperative to delve into the nuanced landscape of property types, mainly through the lens of bedroom distribution across various tenures.

This analysis enriches the knowledge base of Southampton homeowners and landlords and positions them advantageously in making informed decisions.

At the heart of this exploration lies the categorisation of properties based on tenure: owner-occupied, owner-occupied with a mortgage, privately rented, and social housing. When dissected by the number of bedrooms – one, two, three, and four or more – each category reveals insightful trends that I can compare with local and national housing narratives.

Understanding this breakdown is crucial for Southampton homeowners as it sheds light on the current demand and supply dynamics within Southampton.

It offers a glimpse into which types of properties are most sought after. For instance, a surge in smaller, one or two-bedroom privately rented properties might indicate a rising demand from young professionals or smaller families, a demographic trend that has been observed nationally. Conversely, a prevalence of larger, owner-occupied homes could reflect a community with a significant number of established families valuing space and comfort.

On the other hand, Southampton landlords stand to gainimmensely from this granular analysis.

The bedroom distribution across privately rented sectors can guide investment decisions, highlighting portfolio diversification or consolidation opportunities. For instance, a Southampton landlord noticing an undersupply in three-bedroom rental properties might consider acquiring or converting properties to fill this gap, thereby meeting market demand and enhancing rental yields. Our local authority, Southampton City Council, will also find it helpful to compare their housing stock against the private rented sector.

Moreover, comparing these local insights with national statistics offers a broader context, allowing Southampton’s property stakeholders to benchmark against broader trends. Such comparisons can reveal whether Southampton is moving in tandem with national shifts – like the growing preference for more space post-pandemic – or if it harbours unique local preferences that could be leveraged for competitive advantage.

Let’s look at the distribution of properties under tenure in the Southampton area, comparing them against the national stats.

In the Southampton area …

  • 20.59% of Southampton homes are 1 bed households, compared to 11.4% nationally.
  • 30.17% of Southampton homes are 2 bed households, compared to 27.1% nationally.
  • 36.7% of Southampton homes are 3 bed households, compared to 40.4% nationally.
  • 12.54% of Southampton homes are 4+ bed households, compared to 21.1% nationally.

Next, let me look at the distribution over the tenures in Southampton …

  • 22.53% of Southampton homes are owned outright, compared to 32.8% nationally.
  • 26.25% of Southampton homes are owned with a mortgage, compared to 28.7% nationally.
  • 21.9% of Southampton homes are social rented (Council & Housing Association), compared to 17.1% nationally.
  • 29.32% of Southampton homes are privately rented, compared to 20.3% nationally.

And now let’s look at household tenure by bedrooms.



Owned Outright

  • 6.53% of Owned households in Southampton have 1 bedroom (compared to the national average of 3.9%)
  • 25.60% of Owned households in Southampton have 2 bedrooms (compared to the national average of 22.9%)
  • 52.60% of Owned households in Southampton have 3 bedrooms (compared to the national average of 46.7%)
  • 15.27% of Owned households in Southampton have 4 or more bedrooms (compared to the national average of 26.5%)

Owned with a Mortgage

  • 6.89% of Owned (with a mortgage) households in Southampton have 1 bedroom (compared to the national average of 3.6%)
  • 25.05% of Owned (with a mortgage) households in Southampton have 2 bedrooms (compared to the national average of 19.0%)
  • 51.67% of Owned (with a mortgage) households in Southampton have 3 bedrooms (compared to the national average of 45.1%)
  • 16.39% of Owned (with a mortgage) households in Southampton have 4 or more bedrooms (compared to the national average of 32.3%)

Social Renting

  • 36.42% of Social Rented households in Southampton have 1 bedroom (compared to the national average of 29.4%)
  • 34.75% of Social Rented households in Southampton have 2 bedrooms (compared to the national average of 35.5%)
  • 24.60% of Social Rented households in Southampton have 3 bedrooms (compared to the national average of 31.2%)
  • 4.23% of Social Rented households in Southampton have 4 or more bedrooms (compared to the national average of 3.9%)

Private Renting

  • 31.85% of Private Rented households in Southampton have 1 bedroom (compared to the national average of 18.8%)
  • 34.85% of Private Rented households in Southampton have 2 bedrooms (compared to the national average of 39.1%)
  • 20.11% of Private Rented households in Southampton have 3 bedrooms (compared to the national average of 31.8%)
  • 13.19% of Private Rented households in Southampton have 4 or more bedrooms (compared to the national average of 10.4%)

So, what does it all mean? The Southampton housing market, with its diverse range of properties and tenures, offers a rich tapestry for analysis.

For Southampton homeowners and landlords alike, understanding how the number of bedrooms correlates with different types of tenure provides a strategic lens through which to view their home or investments. It underscores the importance of local market intelligence in making informed decisions for buying, selling, or renting properties.

As Southampton continues to evolve, staying abreast of these trends will empower current property holders and attract prospective buyers and investors to this vibrant city.

And finally, to answer the question posed at the start, 36.7% of Southampton households are 3-bed homes – is that enough? Well, that can’t be answered in this short article, as there is such a difference between the tenures. Instead, the article’s purpose was to highlight the information and make you think.

Why? Ultimately, the most knowledgeable agents, homeowners and landlords will recognise the value of detailed, localised property insights, using them to navigate the complexities of the Southampton property market with confidence and understanding.

Do let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

What Southampton Sellers Need To Know About Switching Estate Agents


They say selling a home is a marathon, not a sprint, but what happens if your sale is progressing at a snail’s pace or going nowhere?

How can you get things back on track and find a buyer who will go the distance?

One option – and it’s a big move – is to switch agents.

Sellers usually take this step when they’ve grown frustrated with a lack of progress and feel that a fresh start is needed.

If your agent has gone from hero to zero in your eyes, here’s a guide to the next steps you should take.

Time to talk

Have a frank conversation. Explain that you’re frustrated and considering taking your business elsewhere.

Ask your agent to identify what they think the problem is and how they’ve tried to fix the issue. Also, ask to see evidence, such as online portal statistics and viewing numbers.

Sales can go cold for reasons such as overpricing or poor presentation. If you think the problem is one of these, you may be willing to make some changes to regain momentum.

But if your agent’s justifications do not convince you, then it’s time to move on.

Check your contract

Read the contract you signed with your agent. Some contracts tie sellers in for a specific period, ranging from weeks to months. If you sever links before this time elapses, you could still have to pay the agent commission – even if a different agent sells the property (so you wind up paying two lots of commission).

Some contracts also stipulate that the agent gets a fee if they ‘introduce’ a buyer to the property (even if the agent doesn’t complete the sale). In this scenario, the agent should provide you with a written list of the people to whom they’ve shown the property.

Choose a new agent

Ask friends and neighbours for recommendations and read online reviews.

Explain your predicament to prospective agents and ask for constructive feedback. Remember, you’ve already been burned by one agent who promised the earth and didn’t deliver. If you hear some difficult truths – perhaps your property needs redecoration, repairs or re-pricing – respect the agent for their honesty.

Ultimately, a successful seller/agent relationship relies on trust. You need an agent who is straight with you and will put in the hard graft to sell your home.

Whether you’re a landlord, you’re looking to sell or you’re just interested in how much your property might be worth, the best way to get an accurate and detailed understanding is through a free one-to-one appraisal with one of our experienced local agents. Click here to get started.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

National Love Your Pet Day: Celebrating Loyal And Loving Companion Animals In Southampton

 

From Corgis to cockatiels and Poodles to ponies – there’s no doubt we Brits love our animals.

And is it any wonder why? 

Pets make loyal and loving companions, can alleviate anxiety and loneliness, reduce blood pressure and make us laugh.

So, as it’s National Love Your Pet Day today (20 February), we’re marking the occasion with four uplifting pet stories.

Poppy, the paediatric physiotherapy dog

When 13-year-old Evie needed to learn to walk again after a life-threatening respiratory illness, loving Labradoodle Poppy was by her side.

Poppy joined Evie, who has Down’s syndrome, at her weekly hospital gym sessions at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, in December.

When things got tough for Evie, or she needed a little breather, she could stroke or play with Poppy to lift her spirits.

Thanks to the close bond between patient and dog – and the dedication of NHS staff and the charity Pets as Therapy – Evie was well enough to spend Christmas at home with her family.

Peggy, the Chinese Crested / Pug cross

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And in the case of Peggy and her owner, Holly Middleton, this may well be the case.

Peggy was crowned Britain’s Ugliest Dog last year. And she certainly is distinctive.

Hairless, apart from a white thatch of fur on her head, Peggy’s tongue permanently hangs down the side of her mouth.

But Holly won’t hear a bad word said about her. She told Sky News: “I think she’s really cute, I don’t think she’s ugly.”

Zebby the cat

Put your paws together for Zebby, National Cat of the Year 2023.

The moggie who lives in Derbyshire with owner Genevieve Moss is a hearing cat.

He alerts his deaf owner to noises around the home and provides endless cuddles and snuggles.

Genevieve, 66, says Zebby is her best friend and saviour and means she never feels lonely. 

Alpacas Raymond, Rodney and Roy

Who says you can’t have a pet if you’re a clean freak?

Cleaning guru Sophie Hinchliffe (known as Mrs Hinch on social media) has a spotless abode and three alpacas.

Raymond, Rodney and Roy spend much of their time in the garden but regularly come into the kitchen for treats. (Alpacas like raisins, apparently.)

Sophie says her ‘furry boys’ have made her home complete. She told the Guardian her alpacas provide her with a sense of calm and contentment.

Are you a pet lover? If so, share a photo below of your furry, feathered or scaly friend.

Friday 16 February 2024

Making A Difference In Southampton With Simple Acts Of Kindness

 

Random Acts of Kindness Day is this Saturday 17th February.

The idea of a day to perform random acts of kindness began in America in 1995.

It’s spread globally and is a great opportunity to show how small, thoughtful actions can have a significant impact worldwide and closer to home in Southampton.

Here are six easy ways to spread a little happiness and strengthen the bonds within our community.

Support local businesses – Start by supporting local shops and services. Whether buying a coffee from the local cafĂ© or choosing a local craftsperson for your next project, your custom helps sustain the livelihoods of those in our community.

Share a compliment – Never underestimate the power of a genuine compliment. Whether praising a neighbour’s garden or acknowledging a colleague’s hard work, a kind word can go a long way in brightening someone’s day.

Donate to a local charity – Consider donating to a local charity or food bank. These organisations do incredible work, and your contribution, big or small, can make a real difference to those in need.

Volunteer your time – Giving your time can be incredibly rewarding. Volunteer at a local school, community centre or charity shop. Even a few hours can have a significant impact.

Help a neighbour – Simple acts like helping an elderly neighbour with shopping or offering to walk someone’s dog can foster a stronger, more caring community.

Pay it forward – Buy a coffee for the person in line behind you, leave a book in a public place for someone else to enjoy, or simply hold the door open for others. These small gestures of kindness can create a ripple effect of goodwill.

Let’s use Random Acts of Kindness Day as a feel-good springboard to spread smiles and kindness throughout our community, not just on 17th February, but every day.

Thursday 15 February 2024

The UK’s property market is facing a significant challenge as the availability of homes for rent has plummeted to its lowest level in five years, exacerbating the difficulties tenants face in finding affordable accommodation.

This alarming trend was highlighted in a recent analysis, which revealed that in 2023, only 261,542 private rental homes were available per month in the UK, marking a steep decline from the 379,459 monthly average of rental homes available in 2020 – a drop of 31%, underscoring a worrying trend that has been developing over recent years.

This scarcity of rental properties is occurring against a backdrop of increasing mortgage costs for landlords, which, in turn, places additional pressure on the rental market.

Higher interest rates, coupled with a high demand for rental properties, have led to significant increases in rental prices (rising from £1,343 pcm in 2020 to £1,739 pcm in 2023 – an increase of 29%), making it increasingly difficult for tenants to find affordable housing.

The combination of reduced availability and escalating costs creates a challenging environment for renters, finding fewer properties available at higher rents.

The difficulties tenants face are further compounded by the financial pressures on mortgaged landlords, who have seen the affordability of mortgages decline sharply. This has led to a re-evaluation of their business models by some landlords, with a resultant divestment from rental property portfolios in some cases. The impact of this on the market has been profound, with average buy-to-let mortgage rates experiencing a sharp increase, further exacerbating the challenges landlords and tenants face.

The UK rental market’s dynamics have shifted significantly, with rents rising by 29% as available rental stock dwindled by 31% since 2020.

The Bank of England has highlighted the potential repercussions of this situation in its financial stability report in the summer of 2023, noting that many landlords are likely to seek a raise in rents to offset their higher costs as they come off their fixed-rate mortgages, thereby exacerbating the difficulties for tenants, particularly those with lower incomes and lower savings.

The supply crunch in the rental market has led to increased competition among prospective tenants, with many properties being let almost immediately to quality tenants. This competition drives rents upwards, making it even more challenging for new tenants to find affordable housing. Additionally, the reluctance of existing tenants to move, fearing higher rents elsewhere, contributes to the shortage of available properties, as fewer tenancies are ending and coming back onto the market.

This situation is particularly acute at the lower end of the price spectrum, where the availability of homes to rent for less than £1,000 a month has significantly declined, making it even more challenging for those on tighter budgets to find suitable housing.

740,027 sub £1,000 pcm UK rental properties came onto the market in 2020; this dropped to 464,774 in 2023, a drop of 37.2%.

In contrast, the market for premium properties (over £2,000 pcm) has seen an increase in availability of 52.6% (from 203,502 coming on the rental market in 2020 to 310,516 in 2023), highlighting the stark disparities within the rental market.

The implications of this trend are far-reaching, affecting not only those currently looking to rent but also the broader housing market and the economy.

How is this an opportunity for Southampton landlords?

The current property market could present a notable opportunity for Southampton landlords. To do that, we must look at the background statistics and numbers for the Southampton area.

These are the average monthly stock levels of private rental homes in the Southampton area (SO14 to SO19) …

  • 2019 – 3,383 rental properties per month in the Southampton area
  • 2020 – 3,140 rental properties per month in the Southampton area
  • 2021 – 2,596 rental properties per month in the Southampton area
  • 2022 – 2,237 rental properties per month in the Southampton area
  • 2023 – 1,721 rental properties per month in the Southampton area

The average rent in the Southampton area in 2020 was £1,012 per calendar month; in 2023, it was £1,309 per calendar month.

Southampton rents have risen by 29%, as available rental stock dwindled by 45% since 2020.



The escalation of rental prices signifies a robust income stream for Southampton property investors. This is particularly advantageous in a market where high demand ensures properties are let swiftly, often to quality tenants willing to pay a premium for scarce housing options. For Southampton landlords, this means not only an immediate increase in rental income but also the prospect of sustained long-term profitability as market dynamics push Southampton rents even higher.

Furthermore, the challenging mortgage landscape, with rising buy-to-let mortgage rates with high percentage mortgages, has meant more landlords leaving the market, thereby reducing competition and potentially increasing the demand for existing Southampton rental properties even further.

This unique set of circumstances presents an opportune moment for current and prospective landlords to capitalise on their Southampton property investments, leveraging the tight supply to secure higher rental yields and enhance the attractiveness of their property portfolios.

What about Southampton tenants?

As the UK grapples with this challenging rental market landscape, a multifaceted approach is needed to address the underlying issues. This includes considering the impact of mortgage costs on landlords, the affordability of rents for tenants, and the overall availability of rental properties.

The Government need to build more homes. Yet excluding land, the building costs in the UK start from £163 per square foot. A 3-bed semi is a minimum of 1000 ft.². The most conservative estimate shows that Britain is approximately 2 million households short now, meaning the bill for those additional 2 million homes would be £326bn (excluding the land). For context, the NHS costs £181bn a year!

The Government currently spends £17.35bn a year on housing, which would need to increase to £49bn a year for the next ten years to pay for those 2 million homes. To give you an idea of what that would cost taxpayers …

Income tax would need to rise by 5.81 pence in the pound to pay for those additional 2 million homes!

That is the equivalent of an extra £991 per year for every taxpayer for the next ten years – not a vote winner! Yet without significant Government intervention and strategic planning, the difficulties tenants face in finding affordable homes will likely persist, with potential long-term implications for the housing market and the broader economy.

Meanwhile, British landlords must pick up the pieces and continue to buy properties. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the game that with limited supply and increasing demand, prices (i.e., rents) go up. My heart goes out to Southampton tenants having to pay these increased rents, but the market is the market, and we cannot control that. It has been proved beyond doubt, in Scotland and around the world, that rent controls do more harm than good, so I hope that the Government grasps the nettle and finally does something to sort our housing issues once and for all in the medium to long term.

Please do give us your thoughts on the matter.

Monday 12 February 2024

Southampton Renters: Read This Before You Move In With Your Partner

If talk between you and your partner this Valentine’s Day turns to living together, there are a few practical things you should know first.

Here at Southampton, we pride ourselves on being as helpful as possible.

But dishing out relationship advice is a step too far – even for us.

So, if you’re considering moving in with your partner, we’ll leave the big decisions and lovey-dovey stuff down to you.

However, if you decide to co-habit, we have some useful, albeit unromantic, advice for you.

It’s based on insights we’ve gained over the years from helping many couples set up home together.

Speak to your landlord

One option when moving in together is to start afresh in a new rental property. However, if you plan to move into your partner’s rented place or for them to join you, then you need to discuss this with the landlord. Be aware that you’ll need to get the landlord’s permission first, and they’ll most likely have to run a reference check.

Budget and bills

The good thing about living with someone is you can share the financial burden of renting. But you’ll need to have a frank conversation at the start to discuss how much you can afford to pay in rent and how you’ll split the bills.

Jointly liable

It’s worth understanding that when the two of you sign a tenancy agreement, you are both ‘jointly and severally liable’. This means that if, for example, your partner loses their job and can’t pay the rent, you could be liable to pay their share. The same goes for the upkeep and maintenance of the property. You’re both equally responsible.

Logistics

If you both already have your own homes, decide what furniture you’ll each take to your new property. It’s unlikely that you will have room for more than one sofa, bed or dining table, so you may need to give away or sell some big-ticket items. At this point, you may also get the home-making bug and decide to buy some items to turn your new place into a cosy love nest. In that case, it may be time to put your relationship to the test by taking a trip to IKEA. Good luck.

Love At First Sight: Knowing Your Southampton Home’s Admirers This Valentine's Day

This week, we couldn’t write an article that ignored Valentine’s Day, complete with love themes and romantic puns. So, here goes.

Knowing what sort of property a buyer will fall head over heels for is a skill any good, experienced agent has honed from years of matchmaking.

With that in mind, below we look at the five most popular property types in Southampton and the type of buyers who are often smitten by them.

The charming semi-detached – Young families and professional couples often fall for semi-detached homes. These properties are popular for their garden spaces and potential for social gatherings, appealing to those who enjoy neighbourly interaction and a bit more room.

High-rise romance – Apartments are popular with young professionals and couples seeking to downsize. These homes are perfect for those drawn to the energy and convenience of urban environments and the simplicity of maintenance-free living.

Detached delights – Detached homes are an excellent fit for growing families looking for a more spacious and private environment. They provide plenty of room for family activities, flexible living spaces and outdoor access.

Terrific terraces – Terraced houses are often attractive to first-time buyers and downsizers who are charmed by their character and features such as high ceilings and large windows. They’re a chance to get to know your neighbours and usually come with a sense of community attached.

Bungalow bliss – With its single-level design, the bungalow turns the heads of retirees and those who prefer easier access. Its simple layout appeals to those who love a straightforward, clutter-free lifestyle. This type of home is perfect for anyone looking for comfort without the challenge of stairs.

Are you thinking of moving?

Call us today at 023 8001 8222 to learn why you’ll love (we hope) our property matchmaking service.

Friday 9 February 2024

 

The irony of our technology-driven world, where we’re constantly connected, is that many people have never felt more disconnected from others – including their neighbours and community.

One social commentator described modern life as suffering from ‘an epidemic of loneliness’.

One simple yet potentially life-changing solution to this problem is volunteering.

Offering your time, energy and skills locally isn’t just about lending a helping hand; it’s a two-way street that often improves your life and that of those around you.

Why volunteer?

Volunteering locally bridges gaps in society. It’s about more than just doing good; it’s a catalyst for community cohesion and bringing people together. It creates a sense of belonging, identity and collective responsibility. It’s an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, learn new skills and build invaluable relationships.

The benefits to you

Aside from the warm glow of helping others, volunteering offers tangible benefits. It’s a fantastic way to enhance your CV, particularly if you’re eyeing a career shift or re-entering the workforce. The skills and experiences gained are as diverse as the volunteering opportunities available. Plus, it’s a proven mood booster, combatting feelings of isolation and enhancing mental wellbeing.

How to get involved

Getting started is easier than you think. Local charities, community groups and councils are constantly looking for volunteers. Decide what you’re passionate about and find a cause that aligns with your values.

Social media and online searches are a great place to start looking for opportunities to help.

Whether helping at a local food bank, mentoring young people or supporting environmental initiatives, YOU can make a real difference.

So, what’s stopping you?

Now is the time to step forward and play your part in shaping a stronger, more connected community across Southampton.

Your skills, enthusiasm and time are invaluable resources.

Remember, every little act of volunteering can add up to make a big difference.

Let’s come together to create a community we’re all proud to be part of.

Volunteer today – your community needs you.

Wednesday 7 February 2024

What’s Driving A Resurgence In Demand In The Southampton Property Market?

 

Good news: the latest data on buyer demand shows that the number of property hunters out in force is up by 14%*.

So, what’s driving this increased demand? And what does it mean if you plan to buy or sell in 2024?

Let’s take a look.

Interest rates

For a good chunk of 2023, interest rates were high (relative to recent years), and the possibility loomed that they could go even higher.

Many buyers, uncertain about where it would all end, were spooked and put their property-hunting plans on hold.

But in the latter part of the year, things started to shift. The Bank of England held rates steady three times in a row. 

Then, a few days into the new year, there was further good news when many lenders dropped their mortgage rates.

Some banks even dipped below 4% on their five-year fixed deals** to woo customers.

With the situation now much clearer – and more positive – expect more wait-and-see buyers to act (especially if they’re renting).

This will not only create more market demand but also increase supply because while some buyers will be first-timers, others will have to sell a property to fund their move.

And more sellers means greater choice for buyers.

Resilience

Some dire predictions about what could happen in the housing market did the rounds last year.

Brace yourself for repossessions and an almighty price crash, some warned.

Thankfully, the doom merchants were wrong, and the market proved to be far more resilient than some expected.

This may partly be because the government tightened mortgage lending rules after the 2008 banking meltdown. The aim was to stamp out reckless borrowing and suppress housing bubbles, and it seems to have worked.

Recent data (released by Zoopla) shows that the average UK home is worth 18% more now than it was pre-lockdown in March 2020. 

So, buyers wondering if property is still a good investment need be in no doubt.

Tuesday 6 February 2024

House Sales Up 14.8% On 2023 As Mortgage Rates Fall. Yet Is It A Sellers’ Market In Southampton?

 

The number of agreed UK property sales until the last Sunday of January (28th) is 8.35% higher than a year ago. Tumbling mortgage costs have encouraged buyers and sellers to return to the property market.

There is a more buoyant picture for the UK property market in the first four weeks of January 2024 compared with the same first four weeks in 2023.

Every UK region has seen an increase in the number of properties selling (subject to contract) in January 24 vs January 23; the most significant rise was found in Inner London, which was up 25.14% year-on-year, followed by the South East, at 20.02%, the South West at 16.18%. Most other regions (West Midlands, Outer London, North West, Yorkshire, Ulster, East Anglia, Wales, East Midlands & North East) increased by between 12% and 15%. The smallest rise was in Scotland at 4.45%.
As well as increased property sales, the supply of UK properties on the market is 13.95% higher than a year ago (592,574 for sale in January 2024 versus 519,987 for sale in January 2023)
According to Zoopla, London experienced the most significant rise in potential buyer interest, with a 21% uptick in new buyer inquiries in the capital during the initial three weeks of January compared to last year. This surge was the highest recorded across all UK regions, significantly surpassing the national average increase of 12%.
Net sales (sales agreed less sale fall throughs) paint an even better picture, with a rise of 14.8% (55,459 net UK home sales to January 28th 2024, compared to 48,325 net UK home sales to January 28th 2023)
Growing optimism is evident among prospective buyers and sellers as mortgage interest rates, which saw a significant rise in 2023, have started to fall in the last month or so. By the end of December, inflation had fallen to 4%, down sharply from a peak of 11.1% in October 2022 and considerably lower than the Bank of England's anticipated 4.6%. Additionally, the average mortgage rates have dipped to their lowest point since early June, with some banks & building societies reducing mortgage rates to below 4% (for those with large deposits).

Even with this upswing in property market activities, price levels are likely to remain stable, and the market will continue to favour buyers due to ongoing mortgage affordability issues and the still relatively high-interest rates.

The reduction in mortgage rates has undoubtedly rejuvenated buyer interest and transactions, particularly after a slowdown in the latter half of 2023, when many prospective movers paused their plans. This resurgence is expected to help increase the number of properties sold, which, at one million, were at an 11-year low in 2023. 

However, I cannot see this trend leading to a significant increase in house prices in 2024 since the market remains finely balanced with a medium-term drift towards a slightly weaker sellers’ market for Q2/Q3 in 2024 (compared to 2021, when it was an extreme sellers' market). Sellers eager to move in 2024 might find encouragement in these initial signs of increased activity. Still, the buyer's focus on value means that any undue optimism on the part of sellers could hold back the current property market recovery. 

There are also warnings that the uncertainties often associated with a general election year inhibit the property market, as buyers and sellers become more cautious in their decisions in the lead up to voting at the polls.

This is the time to be realistic with your pricing if you’re going to put your Southampton home on the market.

So, what sort of market are we in?

The measurement of whether it's a buyers', balanced or sellers' market is based on the proportion of properties marked as "Sold STC" and "Under Offer" compared with the total number of properties on the market, e.g., if there are 45 properties sold stc and 100 properties available/for sale, then 45 as a percentage of 100 is 45%.

This isn't just a numbers game; it's a gauge of market sentiment:
  • Extreme Buyers' Market (0%-20%)
  • Buyers' Market (21%-29%)
  • Balanced Market (30%-40%)
  • Sellers' Market (41%-49%)
  • Hot Sellers' Market (50%-59%)
  • Extreme Sellers' Market (60%+)
The weight of these brackets can’t be overstated. They directly impact everything from listing prices to negotiation leverage.

Current Southampton Property Market Snapshot

To calculate where Southampton’s property market stands now, let’s incorporate our most recent findings for January 2024. The numbers and statistics have been taken from the website 'The Advisory', which has calculated the market state stats for many years. I am sharing them from the summer of 2018 to January 2024.

What are the Statistics for the Southampton Area Since 2018?

Looking at each of the Southampton postcode districts, each tells its own story...

The average of all the Southampton postcode districts combined was quite clearly an extreme sellers’ market in the summer of 2022 at 70%. In 2023, the Southampton property market changed, and it was hovering in the mid 50%, a hot sellers’ market (albeit a weaker sellers’ market than the summer of 2022). In January 2024, it remained in a hot sellers’ market.


Consequences and Thoughts for Southampton's Property Market

This new data prompts me to take stock and ponder.

For Southampton home sellers: We are transitioning into a market where sellers must be more strategic, flexible, and patient. It would help if you braced yourself to expect your home to be on the market for longer with an extended marketing period. 

Realistic pricing is even more vital than ever. 

In 2022, for 70.4% of Southampton properties that came onto the market, the owner moved (i.e., exchanged and completed) instead of withdrawing off the market, unsold. In 2023, that figure had reduced to 57.5%, (interesting, when compared with the national picture when it was 65.33% in 2022 and 52.86% in 2023).

For Southampton home buyers: What are the challenges and opportunities? Some homes will still have bidding wars, yet you will have the luxury of choice and time with others.

External influences, from global economic trends, inflation and interest rate repercussions could all cast shadows on the Southampton property market. The pre-election Budget will no doubt affect the property market as will everything going on ice in the three or four weeks up to the election itself.

Delving Deeper: Strategies and Tactics to Sell Your Southampton Home

Given the property market's temperature, here are more granular insights:

Sellers: I've already mentioned, pricing is absolutely key to finding the right buyer. Also, the marketing to make your home stand out is vital - like video/virtual tours, specialised social media campaigns or interactive property listings—could make a difference in a cooling market. 

Buyers: Again, there is more than one market (look at the differences between the Southampton postcode districts above). The competition will heat up if you are looking for the type of property everyone wants. Having your mortgage pre-approval in place will give you an advantage over other buyers. Also, it is worth being open to widening your search radius to spot bargains others could miss. On the other hand, Southampton home buyers can exert more power in negotiations in a less competitive market, from offer price to extras (e.g. carpets or fixtures and fittings). Don’t forget -
81% of sellers are also buyers. So, what you might lose from selling in a buyers' market means you gain when buying.
Final thoughts - as we enter the second month of 2024, the Southampton property market offers both challenges and opportunities for Southampton's home buyers and sellers. Understanding the market nuances is vital if you are a Southampton first-time buyer, an existing homeowner looking to move, a seasoned property buy-to-let investor, or someone looking to relocate.

Stay adaptable, stay informed and remember that, as always, your home-moving story is as much about the journey as the destination.

What are your thoughts on Southampton's evolving property scene? Do you anticipate any other trends or shifts in the Southampton property market? What are your local insights and experiences?

Monday 5 February 2024

Renters Reform Bill: An Update For Southampton Landlords

 

After years in the making, it looks like the Renters Reform Bill – the biggest shake-up of the private rental sector in decades – will become a reality in 2024.

So, how much do you know about this wide-reaching set of proposals, and are you ready for them?

Be prepared

Perhaps you’ve read a few articles about the bill but have put off getting to grips with the details (after all, politicians put forward all sorts of proposals, many of which never happen).

Or maybe you’ve taken the ostrich approach, hoping it will go away.

Whatever your response thus far and whatever you think of the bill’s contents, now’s the time to start preparing for its introduction.

Timeline

The bill had its first and second reading in the House of Commons last year. It will be scrutinised further by MPs and the House of Lords this year and is then expected to receive royal assent.

Insiders suggest the bill could come into effect in October; however, with a general election also on the cards (at some point in 2024), nothing is set in stone. Initially, the new legislation will only affect new tenancies.

Main Components Of The Renters Reform Bill

The bill is still subject to amendment, but here’s a general overview. The bill will:

  • Abolish fixed-term tenancies.
  • Scrap Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.
  • Bolster Section 8, beefing up the existing grounds under which landlords can regain possession and adding new grounds for possession. Landlords will have grounds to regain possession if they wish to sell up, move into the property, or move in close family. They can also evict on the grounds of anti-social behaviour or ‘when tenants wilfully do not pay rent’.
  • Allow landlords to increase rents once a year in line with market rates.
  • Introduce a Private Rented Sector Ombudsman.
  • Ban landlords from discriminating against people on benefits or who have children.
  • Give tenants the right to request to have a pet in the property. Landlords cannot ‘unreasonably refuse’ the request, but they can insist a tenant has pet insurance to cover potential damage.

Implications

The bill undoubtedly represents change. But while some systems and processes will need updating to ensure compliance, proactive and responsible landlords shouldn’t panic. 

Conducting thorough reference checks and regular inspections and having a proactive maintenance schedule and good rapport with tenants, remain the best protection.

Here at Belvoir Southampton, we’re available to discuss the bill in more detail.

We’ve already had several landlords get in touch, keen to find out more about how the expanded Section 8 rules will work in practice given the abolition of Section 21.

Contact us on 023 8001 8222 to discuss the changes in relation to your specific circumstances.

And we’ll be closely following the bill’s progress through Parliament, so stay tuned for further updates.

Friday 2 February 2024

A Smarter Way To Health And Happiness In Your Southampton Home

Pretty much all of us use some degree of smart technology every day.

And it’s not just our omnipresent mobile phones – intelligent technology can be found everywhere.

From smart speakers to thermostats, doorbells, watches, sleeping aids and many other clever devices.

These can all make our lives a little easier (apparently), but what are the best smart gadgets for helping to improve our health and wellbeing at home?

We’ve trawled the internet and found these five smart ways to create a healthier, happier home.

Why weight? – One of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to monitor our weight. Smart scales don’t just tell you how much you weigh; they can also keep you informed about your bone mass, muscle mass, body fat and much more. Mobile phone apps accompany the best ones so you can get updates, alerts and coaching to keep you healthy. A must for any health-conscious home.

Something in the air – Smart air purifiers and HVAC systems monitor and improve the air quality in your home, reducing the risk of airborne diseases and allergies. These machines can be particularly beneficial in urban areas, where pollution levels may be higher.

Let there be light – Smart lighting systems play a pivotal role in health and wellbeing. These systems can mimic natural light patterns, helping regulate our circadian rhythms, improve sleep quality and boost mood, which is especially useful in winter.

Water wonders – Staying well-hydrated is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. And by using intelligent filters that can alert you to the quality of your home’s H2O, you can ensure you’re getting the purest water. The best filters remove any contaminants and provide you with refreshingly clean water.

Sleepy time – A good night’s sleep can feel priceless – thankfully, a device called the Dodow, said to help people get to sleep more quickly, won’t set you back too much money. The device is a small disk, and tapping on the top activates a slowly pulsing blue light. This dim light projects onto your ceiling, helping you pace your breath. As the light expands, you inhale and exhale as it contracts.

These ideas scratch the surface of how people can use tech to feel healthier, happier and more at home.

Get in touch on 023 8001 8222 to learn how we help people in Southampton find their happy place.