Tuesday, 27 June 2017

45.4 miles – The average distance people go to escape living in Grantham

“How far do Grantham people go to move to a new house?” This was an intriguing question asked by one of my clients the other week. Readers of my property blog will know I love a challenge, especially when it comes to talking about the Grantham Property Market!

For the majority, the response is not very far. It is much more common for homeowners and tenants in Great Britain to move across town than to the next town or county. Until now, it’s been hard to say how many homeowners and tenants moved from (and to) relatively far away to buy or rent their new home. However, I carried out some research and requested some statistics from the Royal Mail. What came back was fascinating!

Using statistics for the 12 months up to the middle of Autumn 2016, 329 households moved out of Grantham (NG31), moving an average distance of 45.54 miles- the equivalent of moving from Grantham to Skegness (as the crow flies).  The greatest distance travelled was 325 miles - the equivalent of more than 12.5 marathons (when someone moved to Nethy Bridge in Scotland).

Considering there were 679 property sales in NG31 in the year and countless tenant moves, the numbers seems consistent – once you find a town you like, you tend to want to settle down and if you do move, you might only move to a different neighbour-hood, or for better transport links or, to be closer to the school you want to get your children into, but the likelihood is you won’t travel far.

I then turned my attention to people moving into Grantham. Using the same statistics for the 12 months up to the middle of Autumn 2016, 381 households moved into Grantham (NG31), moving an average distance of 57.41 miles- the equivalent of moving from Bedford to Grantham (again as the crow flies). The greatest distance travelled was 326 miles - the equivalent of more than 12.5 marathons (when someone moved from Turriff in Scotland to Grantham)

I have looked at the data of every person moving into Grantham and these have been plotted on a map of the UK. Looking at the map.. it shows exactly where most people come from, when moving into Grantham. As you can see, there is a high proportion of people moving from London and the South

So, what does all this mean for the landlords and homeowners of Grantham?

When an agent markets a property for rent or let, it is vital to know the tenant or property buyer well, that the properties they are letting/selling fit those tenants/buyers, so they almost sell themselves. These days that means not only knowing how many bedrooms, reception rooms etc., a property offers but the budget buyers and tenants want to spend on a property in that area as well as where they come from.

The estate and lettings industry loves the mantra “location, location, location”. I say it might be helpful to factor in where (and how) far people are moving from, so the property can be sold or let more easily. Many say knowledge is power and whilst I do enjoy writing my blog on the Grantham Property Market, I also use the information to help my clients buy, let and sell well. So for example, the information gained for this article, will enable me and my team to be more efficient in where to direct our marketing resources to ensure we maximise our  clients’ properties saleability or rent-ability.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

1 in 17 of Grantham Properties are Leasehold

There are 23.36 million properties in England and Wales, 64% being owner occupied and 36% being rented either from a private landlord, local authority or housing association.

Over nine out of ten of the those English and Welsh owner-occupied properties live in a whole house or bungalow, which most people would assume would be freehold. However, for those renting, nearly half of rental properties, 44% to be precise lived in other leasehold apartments and flats.

It might be wise to quickly explain the difference between freehold and leasehold. When someone owns the freehold of a property, they own it outright, including the land it is built on, whilst a with a leasehold property, the leaseholder owns the property for the length of their lease agreement. Leaseholders must pay the person who owns land (the freeholder), ground rent and other fees. When the leasehold ends, ownership returns to the freeholder except the leaseholder can extend the lease or they can buy the freeholder out, although there are rules and regulations with regards doing that.

Therefore, it would be safe to assume that houses are freehold and flats are leasehold .. wouldn’t it? Not necessarily! Most houses are freehold but some might be leasehold - usually through shared-ownership schemes – but more and more new homes builders are selling houses on a leasehold as well. The protection of the law afforded to leaseholders who own a flat is massive, but sadly lacking to leasehold houses sold privately.

Looking specifically at the figures, at the last count in NG31, there were 21,027 properties. Since 1995, 19,977 properties in NG31 have changed hands and have been sold.
Next, looking at those 19,977 transactions in NG31 since 1995, using data from Land Registry and solicitors practice My-Home-Move, 6% have been leasehold (lower than the national average of 15%).

However, I am concerned about a few new homes builders selling new houses (not flats - houses) as leasehold. There has been a growing (yet small) trend for new-build houses to be sold as leasehold in recent years. While not all house builders use this model, those that do maintain it helps make developments financially viable.

The issue comes when builders sell the freehold separately to an investment company without informing the lease holder  – which they are legally allowed to do without telling the leaseholder. In England and Wales, the "right of first refusal" to buy the freehold is written in law to leaseholders of flats i.e. the freeholder must offer it to the leaseholders of all the flats of the building first), but not leaseholders of houses.

.. and this is the point I am trying to get across. If you are buying a new home and it’s a house (i.e. not a flat) – please check very carefully indeed whether its freehold or leasehold. If it is a leasehold, whilst you do have rights, they are not as strong as for those people buying a leasehold flat. I appreciate I am only talking about a very small percentage of the property market, but potentially this could end up costing thousands of pounds to those potentially affected.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Grantham Flats Out Perform Property Market Average by 78%

According to the Land Registry's latest House Price Index for Grantham and the surrounding locality, the value of apartments/flats are rising at a faster rate than terraced/town houses, semi-detached properties and even detached property.

Values of apartments in Grantham have increased by 4.8% over the past year, which is proportionally 78% more than the Grantham average rise of 2.69%. The last time flats/apartments in Grantham out performed all the other types of property by such a gulf was back in the Spring of 2003. For comparison, the other property types performed as follows ..

·      Detached homes rose by 2.6%
·      Semi-detached homes rose by 2.57%
·      Terraced/Town-House rose by 2.39%

This moderately increasing rate of property value growth is opportune – but no one should confuse it with a strong and vigorous healthy Grantham property market. Instead, it is somewhat an indicator of the long-lasting lack of property on the market. In fact, I have spoken about the lack homes for sale in Grantham on a number of occasions in my Grantham Property Blog and whilst it isn’t as bad as it was 12 months ago – choice is quite limited for buyers.

The average property value in Grantham
now stands at £201,600.

When split down into property types ..

·      Grantham Apartments at £101,000
·      Grantham Detached £288,100
·      Grantham Semi-Detached £155,200
·      Grantham Terraced/Town-House £123,400

So why have Grantham apartments performed so well, and is it just a Grantham thing? When I scrutinised the figures for the rest of the UK, it appears that apartments are pacemakers in the clear majority of the country. Of the 379 local authority areas in UK, the value of apartments is rising faster than detached, semi-detached and terraced houses in 320 of them.

So, should Grantham apartment owners be getting out the Champagne? Well, I would keep it on ice as the Land Registry figures are notorious for short term fluctuations. It’s hard to have faith in that Grantham house values rose rapidly last month, given in the last six months, the Land Registry has frequently performed downward revisions to the first published House Price Index figures in previous months.

Thankfully, a big picture view from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) stated that home buying activity last month was 2% up over same month in 2016 – not bad as we have had the Autumn, Winter and now Spring since Brexit. The CML stated first time buyer’s levels of affordability was being squeezed and that the average amount borrowed by those first-time buyers dropped slightly last month, but the overall amount borrowed (by all buyers) was an impressive 12% higher than the same month in 2016.

So, what next for the Grantham Property market? I believe the uplift in the values of apartments is a short-term blip. The real issue is with the way wage growth might not keep up with inflation as the effects of 2016 exchange rate sucks in inflation (meaning real wage growth stagnates). This will mean buyer demand growth will be curtailed and with property values already so full, I believe a renewed hastening in house price growth is unlikely.

I believe we are starting to return to housing market we saw in the mid 1990’s, Steady demand, steady supply – nothing silly when it come house price growth. I  therefore believe with what is happening around us – that isn’t a bad thing at all. HMS Grantham Property Market…. “Nice and steady as she goes”, says the Captain