Reeds Rains Property Blog

Property News from Reeds Rains

Q1 2015 - Landlord Survey Results

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Landlords predict rent rises to tail off

  • UK landlords expect annual rent growth to slow to 1.7% by next year, down from 3.7% currently
  • Finding trustworthy tenants deemed more important to landlords than higher rental yields
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of landlords want to purchase additional rental properties this year
  • Three in five landlords (60%) think it is a good time to invest in buy-to-let, up from 54% six months ago
  • More than a fifth of landlords (22%) find their buy-to-let mortgage payments cheaper than a year ago

After a recent spurt of rent growth, landlords anticipate that rent rises will taper off over the next twelve months, according to a sentiment survey of more than 1,200 landlords conducted by Your Move and Reeds Rains, the UK's largest lettings agent network.

On average UK landlords anticipate that rents will increase by 1.7% in the coming year, a sharp slowdown from the current rate of annual rent growth to a steadier trajectory. According to the latest Buy-to-Let Index from Your Move and Reeds Rains, average  residential rents across the UK climbed 3.7% in the year to March 2015, the fastest pace for two years.

The proportion of landlords who will not raise their rents in the next twelve months has increased from 56% in September 2014 to 60% currently. Only a minority of four in ten landlords (40%) intend to increase their rental prices before March 2016. 

Read the full report here.

March 2015 - Buy-to-Let Index

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Rents rise 15% since May 2010

  • Residential rents have risen by 15.2% over the course of this Parliament – or 3.6% beyond CPI inflation
  • In May 2010, the average rent across England and Wales was £667 per month, now £768 as of March 2015
  • Over the last twelve months annual rent rises have accelerated to 3.7% – the fastest pace for two years
  • Yet tenant finances improve – 7.4% of rent in arrears, down from 7.6% last month and 10.7% in May 2010
  • Landlords see gross rental yields steady at 5.0%, and total returns climb to 12.2% including price growth

Rents across England and Wales are now 15.2% higher than at the time of the last General Election in May 2010, according to the latest Buy-to-Let Index from Reeds Rains.

This is faster than inflation. Over the same period since May 2010, consumer price inflation (CPI) has amounted to 11.6%. This leaves a 3.6% increase in rents after the effects of inflation – or the equivalent of a 0.7% real terms increase each year over the last Parliament.

Most recently, rents now stand at £768 per month as of March 2015. Annual rent rises have accelerated to the fastest pace in two years, with the average rent across England & Wales now up 3.7% over the last twelve months. The last time rents rose so quickly was in the year to April 2013, when this previously stood at 3.9% per annum.

Read the full report here.

Mortgage Monitor - April 2015

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Pre-election pause dampens demand for mortgages

  • House purchase approvals dip 2.4% from February to March, with 60,280 loans approved
  • First-time buyers particularly cautious in the run-up to the General Election: higher LTV loans see a marked reduction, with just 9,343 such loans in March – down 10.5% from February
  • Nevertheless, higher LTV lending remains strong in the North – Yorkshire and the Northwest hold the highest proportion of higher LTV loans 

House purchase approvals dropped in March as borrower uncertainty slowed demand in the run-up to the General Election, according to the latest Mortgage Monitor from e.surv, the UK’s largest chartered surveyor.

With the election closing in, there were just 60,280 loans for house purchase made this March, a 2.4% dip from the 61,760 seen in February.

This figure also represents a 10.0% drop compared to March 2014, when there were 66,970 such loans. This is, however, the smallest annual fall seen for half a year, as we move past yearly comparisons with what proved to be a one-off peak in lending last year.

On a quarterly basis, there were 182,747 house purchase approvals in Q1 2015, compared to 178,579 in Q4 2014.

Read the full report here.

House Price Index - March 2015

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  • March sees smallest annual change in house prices for sixteen months, at 5.6% (£14,620)
  • Despite slower rises, average property prices across England and Wales set new record at £275,123
  • Slowdown more prevalent in the south as London hit by higher stamp duty and threat of Mansion Tax
  • Sales up 11.6% in March – but only half the typical monthly upswing expected at this time of year
  • In the run-up to the General Election, sales are down 5% year-on-year in Q1 

Adrian Gill, director of Reeds Rains estate agents, comments: “Property prices in England and Wales continue to hit new heights, yet the cogs of the machinery are flagging to the most laboured pace we’ve witnessed for sixteen months. Slowing to 5.6% in March 2015, annual house price growth has now been waning for half a year, and hasn’t been this sluggish since November 2013. But with homes on average worth £14,620 more than a year ago, it’s a far cry from anything worth lamenting from a bird’s eye view – even if people on the ground might feel somewhat differently. While price inflation simply isn’t as rapid as it was, the stamina is still strong, and prices edged forward another 0.2% in March.

“While house prices might still be on the up, sales appear to be treading water. Completed home sales in March 2015 totalled 72,200 – on the surface, this marks a strong 11.6% increase on February, but delving a little deeper reveals this is only half the uplift we would usually expect for the market at this typically animated time of year. Taking Q1 2015 as a whole, we’ve seen 5% fewer completed home sales than in the first quarter of last year.

“But this is far from a typical year. With the General Election tightening its tempo every week up until May 7th, cautious buyers are holding back to wait and see which way the chips fall. Property regulation is a hot topic in one of the most uncertain UK elections in a generation: no one wants to have the rug pulled from under their feet before they’ve made it through the front door.

“Examining the regional pattern of movement, it becomes apparent that we’re seeing less of a downturn than a convergence. The radical stamp duty overhaul has greatly boosted the prospects of buyers across the country, and injected new life into areas where prices have been stalled and the recovery is yet to show its face. But the small minority of those negatively affected by the restructuring of the old slab system are disproportionately concentrated in the more expensive, southern regions of England. Naturally, London has been the hardest hit at the sharp end of this reform, and also most directly threatened by future mansion tax, possessing the lion’s share of high-end property, and the clustering of properties in the million pound price bracket mirrors the locations where price rises have cooled most quickly. Between January and February, the South West has seen annual house price rises fall back by 1.1 percentage points from 5.5% to 4.4% – the most marked slowdown across England and Wales, and closely followed by London and the South East, which both experienced downtrends to the tune of 0.9 percentage points. While values in London and the South West are no longer at their peak, the East and West Midlands and East of England are instead among those setting new price records in February.

“For so long, London has been the workhorse dragging up overall measures of UK house price growth, but we’ve reached a new equilibrium. While house price growth is more measured than it was a year ago, it’s also far more evenly distributed across the country, with London having the most negligible impact on barometers of house price growth for three years. The difference between annual growth including and excluding the capital is now only 0.7%, the smallest gap since March 2012. Striking this fairer balance between London and the rest of the country is only good news for the long-term sustainability of the housing market recovery.”

Full details about the March 2015 House Price Index can be found here

Rental Regional Review...

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England: Latest statistics from the English Housing Survey

At the end of February, the Government published its annual English Housing Survey and, for the year 2013 to 2014, the headline report had some encouraging data for landlords. The private rented sector remained larger than the social rented sector, even growing by 1% to 19% (4.4 million) of households in the country, while social housing held steady at 17% (3.9 million). And in terms of young adults renting, almost half (48%) of all households made up of 25-34 year olds rented privately, an increase of 3% on the previous year. That figure is more than double what it stood at a decade before. Over the same ten-year period, the number of households in this age group owning property fell from 59% to 36%. If this trend continues, albeit steadily, the demand for Private Rented Sector (PRS) accommodation will continue to increase accordingly. 

In terms of rents, the average in the PRS rose over the five years since 2008-9 from £153 to £176 per week, an increase of 15%. Given that inflation stands at roughly 3% per annum, this means that landlords have just managed to keep their rents rising in line accordingly. If you don’t do it already, now is the time to check whether your own rents have kept up with inflation and the local market. If they haven’t, it means the value of your profit is falling year on year, so you may need to review your investment and take steps to ensure it produces the returns you need.

Visit or call your local Reeds Rains branch to discuss whether we can help you do any more to maximise your rents from a market perspective. Call 0845 450 0865*, or email Landlords@ReedsRains.co.uk

Scotland: Tenant antisocial behavior 

Private landlords are responsible for any antisocial behaviour displayed by their tenants or guests in and around their property. That’s anything that results in others feeling alarmed, distressed or intimidated, all of which is subjective and therefore sometimes hard to tackle. To help you, Renting Scotland has released a new guide on how to minimise the chances of antisocial behaviour and what steps to take if it occurs.

Of course, if we are managing the property for you, we will look after any issues and try to resolve them before they become a major problem. If you do manage yourself, though, and receive a complaint from someone else in the property, a neighbour or the local authority, you need to talk to your tenant directly.

Explain what’s been reported, why it’s unacceptable and ask them to change their behaviour, then follow it all up in writing, so you have a clear record, should things escalate. Your tenant may not realise what they’ve done is considered antisocial and it could be easily rectified.

Importantly, then make sure you feed back to the complainant what you’ve done and how you and/or the tenant will attempt to rectify the problem moving forward. Often, the problem relates to noise so, for example, you may have agreed that they won’t play music or use a washing machine after 10pm.

If the behaviour continues, you can ask the council to apply for an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) or take steps to evict the tenant. Provided you have established a good line of communication and have dealt fairly and clearly with the tenant, you should find it simply a matter of process for them to leave. But do remember that if, at any point, you feel threatened by them, you can always call the police.

For more information, visit www.rentingscotland.org/landlords-guide  

Wales

The market in Wales is currently pretty stable, with neither property prices nor rents rising, on average. At times like this, it is worth knowing what you can do to maximise your returns, through avoiding some costs and reducing others, ensuring your profits don’t drop.

The first thing to do is look at your expenditure. If you haven’t had a mortgage review in the past 12 months, contact your financial advisor or mortgage broker and ask them to see whether you could be on a better rate. Then look at your other monthly costs – utilities, services, etc. - and see if you can reduce any of those. To arrange an appointment with a Reeds Rains Mortgage Advisor, call 0845 450 0865*, email Landlords@ReedsRains.co.uk

The next thing you need to do might seem to contradict the last point, but make sure the property is well-maintained. When the market is stable, it’s an indication that supply and demand are balanced and therefore you need to work harder to get and keep the best tenants, as there’s no shortage of rental property for them to choose from. Do a thorough inspection (or we will happily come round and do this for you) and make sure you touch up paintwork, fix any little problems and generally ensure the property is looking good, inside and out. Your gas system and appliances should all be fine, thanks to the annual certification required, but if you haven’t had an electrical inspection for four or five years, have a ‘Part P’ registered electrician check the system is safe and certify that everything’s working properly.

Prevention is better and cheaper than a cure, and provided your on-going maintenance is thorough, you should be able to avoid having any unexpected bills in the near future. 

Northern Ireland

Research into the rental market in Northern Ireland for the first half of 2014 has just been published and the overall picture for landlords is good, with rents up by 2.6% on the previous 6-month period, demonstrating a healthy demand for private rented sector property.

The volume of rental transactions was down by more than 16% over the six-month period and by over 11% on the same period in 2013, which estate agents have suggested is because the sales market is improving and therefore some landlords are exiting the market. If this continues, it’s good news for you, as reducing rental stock will keep demand high.

Belfast is still dominant and driving the market, with just over 40% of all rental transactions in Northern Ireland being undertaken in the city, and that figure shows a slight rise on the previous six-month period. In contrast, every council area outside Belfast recorded a fall in transactions. Outside the city, the next largest rental market is North Down, which stands some way ahead of the next four: Lisburn, Craigavon, Newtownabbey and Ards. The lowest rental transactions were recorded in Moyle, Strabane and Ballymoney, with the number of transactions in Ballymoney having fallen by more than half over the six months. 

In terms of property type, two and three-bedroom terraces and townhouses continue to have the largest market share (39%) across Northern Ireland, with apartments close behind at 31%. In Belfast city centre, these two types of accommodation together represent nine out of every ten rental transactions. 

YOUR PROPERTY MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE

Our initial mortgage consultation is free. We will charge a fee between £349 and £699 on application. The amount we will charge is dependent on the amount of research and administration required.

IN GENERAL BUY TO LET MORTGAGES ARE NOT REGULATED BY THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY.

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