Thursday, 2 February 2017

Ramsgate’s private renting set to hit 6,561 households by 2021 - Is Buy to Let immoral? (Part 1)





Can we blame the 55 to 70-year-old Ramsgate citizens for the current housing crisis in the town?

Also known as the ‘Baby Boomer Generation’, these Ramsgate people were born after the end of the Second World War as the country saw a massive rise in births as they slowly recovered from the economic hardships experienced during wartime.

Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, they experienced (whilst in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s) an unparalleled level of economic growth and prosperity throughout their working lifetime on the back of improved education, government subsidies, escalating property prices and technological developments, they have emerged as a successful and prosperous generation.

...Yet some have suggested these Ramsgate baby boomers have (and are) making too much money to the detriment of their children, creating a ‘generational economic imbalance’, where mature people benefit from house-price growth while their children are forced either to pay massive rents or pay large mortgages.

Between 2001 and today, average earnings rose by 65%,
but average Ramsgate house prices rose by 159.5%

The issue of housing is particularly acute with the generation called the Millennials, who are young people born between the mid 1980’s and the late 1990’s. These 18 to 30 years, moulded by the computer and internet revolution, are finding as they enter early adult life, very hard to buy a property, as these ‘greedy’ landlords are buying up all the property to rent out back to them at exorbitant rents ... it’s no wonder these Millennials are lashing out at buy to let landlords, as they are seen as the greedy, immoral, wicked people who are cashing in on a social despair.

Like all things in life, we must look to the past, to appreciate where we are now.

The three biggest influencing factors on the Ramsgate (and UK) property market in the later half of the 20th Century were, firstly, the mass building of Council Housing in the 1950’s and 60’s. Secondly, for the Tory’s to sell most of those Council Houses off in the 1980’s and finally 15% interest rates in the early 1990’s which resulted in many houses being repossessed. It was these major factors that underpinned the housing crisis we have today in Ramsgate.

To start with, in 1995 the USA relaxed its lending rules by rewriting the Community Reinvestment Act. This Act saw a relaxation on the Bank’s lending criteria’s as there was pressure on these banks to lend on mortgages in low wage neighbourhoods, as the viewpoint in the USA was that anyone (even someone on the minimum wage) any working class person should be able to buy a home.  Unsurprisingly, the UK followed suit in the early 2000’s, as Banks and Building Society’s relaxed their lending criteria and brought to the market 100% mortgages, even Northern Rock started lending every man and his dog 125% mortgages.

So when we roll the clock forward to today, and we can observe those very same footloose banks from the early/mid 2000’s (that lent 125% with a just note from your Mum and a couple of breakfast cereal tokens), ironically reciting the Bank of England backed hymn-sheet of responsible-lending. On every first time buyer mortgage application, they are now looking at every line on the 20-something’s banks statements, asking if they are spending too much on socialising and holidays ... no wonder these Millennials are afraid to ask for a mortgage (as more often than not after all that – the answer is negative).

Conversely, you have unregulated Buy To Let mortgages. As long as you have a 25% deposit, have a pulse, pass a few very basic yardsticks and have a reasonable job, the banks will literally throw money at you ... I mean Virgin Money are offering 2.99% fixed for 3 years – so cheap!

So, in Part Two next week, I will continue this emotive article and show you some very interesting findings on why young people aren’t buying property anymore (and it’s not what you think!).

END

Monday, 16 January 2017

Thanet OAP’s sitting on £966 m of Property






Thanet people aged over 65 currently hold more housing wealth in their homes than the annual GDP of the whole of the Shetland Isles… and this is a problem for everyone in Thanet!

Many retiree’s want to move but cannot, as there is a shortage of such homes for mature people to downsize into.  Due to the shortage, bungalows command a 10% to 20% premium per square foot over houses of the same size with stairs. To add to the woes, in 2014, just 1% of new builds in the UK were bungalows, according to the National House Building Council - down from 7% in 1996.

My research has found that there are 4,731 households in Thanet owned outright (i.e. no mortgage) by over 65 year olds.  Taking into account the average value of a property in Thanet, this means £966 million of equity is locked up in these Thanet homes, compared to the GDP of the whole of the Shetland Isles being £524 million of GDP.

A recent survey by YouGov, found that 36% of people aged over 65 in the UK are looking to downsize into a smaller home.  However, the Government seems to focus all its attention on first-time buyers with strategies such as Starter Homes to ensure the youngsters of the UK don’t become permanent members of ‘Generation Rent’.  Conversely, this overlooks the chronic under-supply of appropriate retirement housing essential to the needs of the Thanet’s rapidly ageing population. Regrettably, the Thanet’s housing stock is woefully unprepared for this demographic shift to the 'stretched middle age’, and this has created a new 'Generation Trapped’ dilemma where older people cannot move.

Some OAP’s who are finding it difficult to live on their own, are unable to leave their bungalow because of a lack of sheltered housing and ‘affordable’ care home places.  So, older retirees can't leave bungalows, younger retirees can't buy bungalows and younger people can't buy family houses.

Interestingly, adding insult to injury, the problem will only get worse, as in the 50 year old to 64 year old homeownership age range there are an additional 2,625 Thanet households that are mortgage free and a further 2,582 Thanet households who will be completing their mortgage responsibility.  With Government projections showing the proportion of over 65’s will rise by over a third from the current 17.7% to 24.3% of the population in the next 20 years ... this can only add greater pressure to the Thanet Property market.

House prices have rocketed over the last 40 years because the supply of property has not kept up with demand. With migration, people living longer and high divorce rates (meaning one family becomes two) we need, as a Country, 240,000 properties to be built a year to just stand still.  In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the Country was building on average 180,000 to 190,000 households a year, but since the Credit Crunch (2009), that has only been between 130,000 and 145,000 households a year.

The solution …. release more land for starter homes, bungalows and sheltered accommodation because land prices are killing the housing market as the large firms dominating the construction industry are more likely to focus on traditional houses and apartments.  My opinion – until the Government change the planning rules and allow more land to be built on – Bungalows could be a decent bet for future investment as they continue to attract ever growing premiums?