Friday, 4 October 2019

What’s the biggest street in Royal Tunbridge Wells (TN1)?

Most weeks, my articles on the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market tackle some of the big issues about the local property market, such as the lack of new homes being built in Royal Tunbridge Wells, the trials and tribulations of being a Royal Tunbridge Wells buy-to-let landlord and the future of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market .. yet in this article, I wanted to give you some fun facts about the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market – which is the largest street in TN1 by the number of properties on it?

The biggest street in TN1, when it comes to the number of houses on it is Upper Grosvenor Road, with 758 homes. In second place is St James Road with 239 homes and in third is London Road with 220 homes.





Not surprisingly, the most valuable street of the top 20 biggest streets is Upper Grosvenor Road at £214.2m with an average value of £283,000 per property.

The street with the greatest number of movers in the last 3 years is also Upper Grosvenor Road, yet its saleability rate was only 9.1%, with London Road having the highest saleability rate of 20.9%.

The full breakdown can be found in this chart below.



Yet, did you really think I wouldn’t get at all serious .. 

The basic rudiments of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market remain principally healthy in many parts of Royal Tunbridge Wells, yet the existing political environment means that the vital element of confidence has been diminished slightly in certain parts, and that is triggering a minority of potential property purchasers and house-sellers to vacillate, yet with unemployment at an all-time low, a record number of people with a job, ultra-low interest rates and decent mortgage availability (with the Banks and Building Societies tending to drop mortgage rates instead of increasing them), those Royal Tunbridge Wells first time buyers (and especially Royal Tunbridge Wells buy-to-let landlords) who have adjourned their next house purchase because of perceived political uncertainty should be reminded that talking to many of my fellow Royal Tunbridge Wells agents they have more homes on their books than at any time for the last three or four years, so there is a greater choice of Royal Tunbridge Wells properties to call your next home/BTL investment with a potential of securing a great property deal in the next month or so.

Irrespective of what happens with Brexit, Royal Tunbridge Wells people will still need a roof over their heads and as I have mentioned on a number of occasions, I have proved beyond doubt we aren’t building enough homes both locally in Royal Tunbridge Wells and nationally. If supply is limited and demand increases (as the population grows and we get older), prices in the medium to long term can only go in one direction. Upwards!

So, whatever happens with BoJo and Brexit – why wait, because once we get over that hurdle, there will just be another hurdle and another hurdle and by which time – we will be in 2029 and you would have missed the boat. We survived the Global Financial Crash, 3-day week in 1970s’, hyperinflation etc etc …  yet the choice is yours.




Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Royal Tunbridge Wells Property Market Update Summer 2019

The foundations of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Property Market over the summer have continued to be principally sound; yet the existing political macroclimate means that the critical element of consumer confidence has been reduced and that is triggering some potential Royal Tunbridge Wells property buyers and Royal Tunbridge Wells house sellers to falter slightly and hang fire making any firm decisions on property.

With record low interest rates at 0.75%, low unemployment rates of 3.8%, and decent mortgage availability (even those with low deposits - there were 224 mortgage deals available on the day of writing this article where only a 5% deposit was required and 5 main stream lenders that would offer 100% no deposit mortgages), Royal Tunbridge Wells buyers have a lot going in their favour, aside from the perceived political uncertainty. 

Interestingly, Rightmove have stated there are more properties for sale today in the Country, than at any time since 2016, and Royal Tunbridge Wells follows that trend. Even with that in mind, property values have remained reasonably stable as The Land Registry has just released its House Price Index for Royal Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding locality and it makes very interesting reading.

Overall, property values in the Royal Tunbridge Wells area are 3% lower than a year ago as the average property value in Royal Tunbridge Wells now stands at £493,900.

When I looked at the types of Royal Tunbridge Wells’ properties, a slightly different picture appeared ..

·     Royal Tunbridge Wells Detached homes dropped by 2.3%
·     Royal Tunbridge Wells Semi-detached homes dropped by 2.2% 
·     Royal Tunbridge Wells Terraced/Town-House dropped by 2.8%
·     Royal Tunbridge Wells Flats/Apartments dropped by 4.7%

and splitting down the types of Royal Tunbridge Wells into property types ..

·     Royal Tunbridge Wells Detached £846,100
·     Royal Tunbridge Wells Semi-Detached £459,700
·     Royal Tunbridge Wells Terraced/Town-House £388,700
·     Royal Tunbridge Wells Flats/Apartments £282,300




Yet, Royal Tunbridge Wells Property Market Blog readers will know I always like to measure the health of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market not only by house prices but transaction levels as well ..

1,128 properties were sold in the last year in Royal Tunbridge Wells,
 lower than the 10-year average of 1,386 properties per annum

Considering the uncertainty the Country has been through in the last three years with the ‘B’ word issue, I don’t think that’s too bad and shows the underlying resilience of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market.

Now looking forward towards the end of the year .. how will Royal Tunbridge Wells’ house values change under the new Prime Minister?

Royal Tunbridge Wells buy-to-let landlords and Royal Tunbridge Wells first-time buyers seem to be sustaining their preceding activity levels, which is heartening news. It’s quite conceivable that both cohorts are presently profiting from the marginally increased numbers of Royal Tunbridge Wells homes on the market, which not only offers them greater choice, but aids with their negotiations. The suggested Stamp Duty changes made me look at previous Stamp Duty changes in the last decade and their effects have been rather short term.

That means those selling their homes in Royal Tunbridge Wells need to be realistic with their pricing, and, as most sellers also buy a property, what you might lose on your sale you will make up on the purchase.  


BoJo, Brexit … to be honest are all short-term distractions from the long-term issues of the UK and Royal Tunbridge Wells property market. Until we start building at least 300,000 properties a year to meet the demand for UK property, demand will always outstrip supply, meaning irrespective of short-term fluctuations that may (or may not) be caused by domestic and world events (including the ‘B’ word’), prices will always in the medium to long term remain stable and increase.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Royal Tunbridge Wells Homeowners can now build larger extensions without planning permission.

The need for more homes has always been one of the biggest issues with regard to the Country’s housing crisis.  One of the main reasons for families wanting to move home is the need for more accommodation as their families grow and so in 2013 and 2015, the planning permission rules were relaxed to try an alleviate this issue.

Initially in 2013, Nick Clegg, as Deputy Prime Mister, brought in temporary planning rules to allow larger single storey rear extensions without the requirement of a full planning application.  The temporary rules allowed terraced and semi-detached homes to be extended by just over 19ft, whilst detached houses were able to add even bigger extensions of up to 24ft.  Since those rules were relaxed six years ago, 109,320 people have taken advantage of the temporary rules (aka “permitted development size guidelines”).

Homeowners wanting to extend within these permitted development guidelines, must still inform the local authority of the extension beforehand, and local authority officials still need to then notify the neighbours.  If the neighbours object, the local authority could still stop the extension being built, but only if it is likely to damage the character or enjoyment of the neighbourhood.  The planning process exists for a reason and whilst these relaxed planning rules are popular with property owners, it does mean local authorities have little chance to deliberate the impact of these extensions on their locality.  However, 22,779 permitted developments had been refused in the same time frame meaning, 17.2% of permitted development planning applications have been refused since 2013.
Now these temporary rules have been made permanent recently as the Government believe these measures will help households extend their properties without fighting through the time-consuming red tape of obtaining planning permission.  The government believes this is part of a package of planning reforms to build more households, build them better, quicker and make the housing market work, meaning families can grow without being forced to sell and move… or does it?

The average size of a property 
in Royal Tunbridge Wells is 1,036 sq.ft

.. internally (1,187 sq.ft  externally), whilst to the national average 929 sq.ft internally (1,081 sq.ft externally).  Interesting when compared to the average size of a new homes built nationally which is 12.1% lower at 818 sq.ft internally (927 sq.ft externally).

These relaxed rules are only for single-storey extensions though, when most growing families don’t need an extra downstairs reception room, they need an additional upstairs bedroom.  This means if families do want an extra bedroom upstairs, they will still have to go through the rigmarole of submitting a full planning permission.  Although, many Royal Tunbridge Wells people have used these rules in the last 6 years to build a decent size granny-annex – there are other options less explored out there.

There was a second (less advertised) temporary change the Government made to planning rules in 2015, that has also been made permanent recently, many may have missed it, yet it has a bigger potential impact on the housing market.  The new rules make permanent the removal of planning rules to allow office blocks and shops to be converted into residential homes without a full planning application being made.  Since 2013, 11,090 office blocks and 1,750 shops have been converted into residential households.  This doesn’t sound a lot, but in 2017 alone, converted shops and office blocks provided 37,000 new households alone in the Country (or 17% of the new household created in 2017).

Over the next decade, more and more office blocks and shops will be converted into residential properties … and this will slowly change the dynamic of the housing market and the high street … and I’m not sure whether that will be for the good or bad ... only time will tell?

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Royal Tunbridge Wells’ Homeowners Sell Their Home Over a Third More Than the UK Average


The average homeowner in the UK moves every 20.2 years… 
That average in the 1970’s and 80’s was around every 10 to 11 years; in the 1990’s it increased to the mid-teens (in terms of years) and in the early part of the Millennium, it dropped again to the low teens. When we had the Credit Crunch years of 2008/09/10, that shot up to every 25.3 years and has been steadily decreasing ever since to the 2018 figure of 18.7 years.

The graph shows that as the economy improved after the Credit Crunch, British homeowners started to move home more and may have be taking advantage of higher demand and lower supply in the housing market to sell their homes and move on to the next property. Yet, most Royal Tunbridge Wells (and British) homeowners are more often than not buyers as well, so that cannot be the real cause. As mentioned already, people in the 70’s and 80’s moved a lot more than today.
So why is the long-term average length of time between moves since 2000 still much higher than it was in the preceding 30 years? For existing homeowners, some people have said their lack of an appetite to move home compared to the 1970’s and 1980’s might come down to their mortgages and the need for higher equity to put down on the next house. It is true the number of years you stay in your home determines how much you will pay back on the mortgage you took out when buying it. If you stay longer, you have the prospect to pay back a larger portion of the money you borrowed to buy the home. Interestingly, if you consider someone with a 25-year mortgage on the UK average variable rate of 3.4% for existing mortgage borrowers, borrowed say £200,000 at the start of the mortgage and made monthly payments on that mortgage, it would take 15 years and 1 month to build up over 50% (or £100k) in equity (and 17 years 2 months if interest rates were at their historic average in the 1980’s and 1990’s of 7%) … all assuming there was no decrease in value of the property. 
Instead, I think the issue is a lot deeper than that. Firstly, I believe there has been a long-term change in attitude to moving home and this lack of people moving home (compared to the last 30 years of the 20thCentury) is part of a slowdown in the country in social mobility. Interestingly, a million fewer people moved in the noughties (2000 to 2010) than in the 1970’s, after other changes in population have been taken into consideration. You see back in the 1970’s and 80’s, it was expected that people kept moving up the ‘property ladder’ to bigger and better homes (i.e. keeping up the Jones’).
Secondly, there has been a change in attitude to homeownership per se… as 20 to 30 somethings (Generation Rent) have been weaning themselves off the ‘homeownership drug’ for the last 15 years that the baby boomers were addicted to in the 1970’s and 80’s ... meaning there are less buyers at the bottom of the housing ladder to fuel the fire. That is an important factor on the long-term decrease in home moving as buy to let landlords have been buying the smaller style starter homes to house Generation Rent … yet landlords don’t tend to move up the housing ladder after a few years like first time buyers - landlords just buy another property. 
So, what is happening in Royal Tunbridge Wells with regard to people moving home?
I have mentioned a number of times in my articles about the property market in Royal Tunbridge Wells, that the number of people who move home (i.e. the number of property transactions) is a more important bellwether to the health of the local property market. 

Therefore, I comparedthe number of people moving home in Royal Tunbridge Wells to the regional stats of home movers and the country as a whole. I also decided to look at a long-term point of view to judge the Royal Tunbridge Wells housing market, because as can be seen on the first graph, there is often short-term volatility. Looking at the stats...  
Since 1995, people in Royal Tunbridge Wells have moved home 35.55% more often than the national average

Looking at this second graph, 107% of the Royal Tunbridge Wells’ (TN4 to be precise) privately owned housing stock has been sold since 1995 - interesting when compared to the national figure of 79%. Why? Well I am sure this might be the topic of an up and coming article on the Royal Tunbridge Wells Property Market Blog.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Which Royal Tunbridge Wells Properties are Selling the Best?


Moving home is said to be the third most stressful life event, following a member of your family dying or getting divorced. So it is always best to keep your stress levels down by investigating and doing your homework on both the particular area of Royal Tunbridge Wells (or nearby conurbations) where you live (i.e. where you are selling) and where you want to search for your next Royal Tunbridge Wells home. Being mindful of how fast (or slow) the different aspects of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market is moving is key.. because it could save you much heartache and many thousands of pounds. 

You see, if you know you are selling a property in a sluggish price range and buying in a faster moving price range in Royal Tunbridge Wells then putting your property on the market first is vital, otherwise you will always find the one you want to buy tends to sell before your property sells - there is nothing worse than pondering over a property only to find that someone else has bought it. Being primed with all the knowledge is key. On the other side of the coin, if you are selling in a fast moving market and buying in a sluggish market .. you can probably get a better deal on the one you are buying.

For buy to let landlords in Royal Tunbridge Wells, this evidence is particularly critical as purchasing a high-demand property in a well-liked area of Royal Tunbridge Wells will safeguard a surfeit of availability of tenants, as well as respectable house price growth. 
Being an agent in Royal Tunbridge Wells, I like to keep an eye on the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market on a daily basis because it enables me to give the best advice and opinion on what (or not) to buy in Royal Tunbridge Wells; be that a buy to let property for a landlord or an owner occupier house.  So, I thought, how could I scientifically split the Royal Tunbridge Wells housing market into sections, so I could analyse which part of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market was doing the best (or the worst)
I took the decision that the preeminent way was to fragment the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market into roughly four uniform size price bands (in terms of properties for sale). Each price band would have roughly around 25% of the property in Royal Tunbridge Wells available for sale .. then add up all the sold (stc) properties and see which sector of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market was performing best? … And these were the results .. 

# Properties For Sale 
# Properties Sold (stc)
up to £270,000
190
101
£270,000 to £350,000
202
107
£350,000 to £550,000
208
118
£550,000 upwards
218
107

The best performing price range in Royal Tunbridge Wells is the middle to upper market £350,000 to £550,000 where 36.2% of all property in that price range has a buyer and is sold stc.
It’s not unexpected that the upper end of the property market (the top 25%) in Royal Tunbridge Wells is finding things a little tougher compared to the others. Remarkably for Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords, the lower market is doing reasonably well, but it’s not the best, so maybe there could be some property deals out there for buy to let investment? Even though the number of first time buyers in 2018 did increase over the 2017 levels, it was from a low starting point and the large majority of 20 to 30yo’s don’t want to or can’t buy their first home and the local authority has no money to build Council houses meaning an increase in demand as private landlords take up the slack – because everyone needs a roof over their head!
If you would like to pick my brains on the Royal Tunbridge Wells Property Market – pop in for a coffee or drop me a line on social media or email. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

10% more homes for sale in Royal Tunbridge Wells than a year ago


One of the key factors of the health of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market is the number of properties for sale at any one time. The issue with housing is that when demand goes up, unlike with a chocolate bar factory, who can add a couple of hours overtime to increase supply/production to satisfy demand, it takes a good 18 months to two years from planning permission to someone moving into a home. I have talked at length (and proved) in previous articles that we are still not building enough homes in the long term in the Royal Tunbridge Wells area.. yet for the short term, a good indicator is the number of properties for sale and how long they have been on the market.

How long a property has been on the market is important as a guide to how the property market is performing – potential buyers can always find this information on the Rightmove and Zoopla listings (if you don’t know where – drop me an email or message and I can let you know). 

So, let’s have a look at what is happening in Royal Tunbridge Wells, both in terms of the number of properties for sale and how long they have been on the market compared to a year ago, then discuss what that means for the current state of play of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market. So to start, let’s look at the number of properties for sale in Royal Tunbridge Wells compared to a year ago.



Interestingly, you can see there has been a proportional increase of 41% in terraced properties on the market in Royal Tunbridge Wells, yet a 12% reduction in detached property .. overall in the last year there are 10% more properties on the market in Royal Tunbridge Wells, compared to a year ago. Now, let’s look how long they have been on the market ..



Interesting to see that the biggest jump in the number of days on the market is terraced houses, from 121 days to 169 days .. demand and supply working again. Also, the length of time an average Royal Tunbridge Wells’ property has been on the market has increased by 23% in the last year.

So what does this all mean for Royal Tunbridge Wells Buy To let landlords and Royal Tunbridge Wells homeowners looking to buy and sell?  Well, if you are thinking of selling, as the number of properties on the market has increased and the length of time Royal Tunbridge Wells properties are on the market has also increased – you have to be mindful that realistic pricing is the key to get the property sold. If you are a buyer, that means you find yourself in a better position to negotiate a good deal on your Royal Tunbridge Wells property purchase. 

There is an argument to suggest that property buyers see excessive days on the market as an indication that the seller is becoming desperate to sell because the property hasn’t sold. Buyers are also mindful to believe that there might be something wrong with the home, a defect that caused other buyers to pass it up. This can concern them when they view the property – if they view it at all, as that possible and perhaps made-up defect is on their minds, even if it is sub-consciously.

Normally, both assumptions are wrong. A property can loiter on the market for several reasons. The most common reason for a property sticking on the market is overvaluing or overpricing. In an effort to get the property on the market, some estate agents may have deluded the seller into believing the property was worth more than the property market will bear. Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t ask, you don’t get and homeowners naturally want to get the best price for their home, and so test the market. Yet, if you aren’t getting a steady stream of viewers after a few weeks, then that testing can back fire. You see, by setting the asking price too high to see if they can find someone to pay that inflated price, then finding there is nobody in the market that will pay the price, here lies the biggest trap for house sellers on keeping the inflated asking prices for too long. 

Sellers can also get stuck on an asking price and they are willing to wait out the market until it catches up to what they want for their property – yet we aren’t in that type of property market at the moment. Consumer champion Which said that if you have to reduce your asking price by 5% or more, it adds an extra 64 days to the sales process meaning you might lose the property of your dreams.

Also, I have seen countless times, house sellers insist on an inflated asking price, reduce 12 weeks later, yet buyers think there is something wrong with it so the homeowner gets fed up and accepts a lower offer to get the property sold, whereas if the house seller had gone onto the market at the right asking price, they would get much nearer to what they deserve for their property.

So, if you are looking for a bargain to buy – all the Portals (Rightmove, Zoopla and On The Market) allow you to search and sort by the length of time on the market as well as the asking price.. who knows – there could be a bargain waiting for you!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

What Has Happened to the Property Market in Royal Tunbridge Wells Since the Last Property Market Crash?

A handful of landlords and homeowners from Royal Tunbridge Wells have been asking me what would happen if we had another property crash like we did in 2008/9? 
The UK property crash in 2008/9 caused property prices in the UK to drop by an average of 18.37% in a period of 16 months.
On the run up to the Parliamentary vote on Brexit scheduled for March, a number of people asked what a no-deal Brexit would do to the property market and if there would be a crash as a result. I have discussed in a previous article on the chances of that (slim but always a possibility) … but assuming it happens, it is my opinion the outcome of a no-deal Brexit would be no worse than the country’s 2008/9 credit crunch property crash, the late 1988 property crash, the 1974 property crash, 1951 property crash … I could go on. The British economy would bounce back from the shock of a no-deal Brexit with lower property values and a continued low interest rate environment (together with an additional round of Quantitative Easing) and that would mean we would see a similar bounce back as savvy buyers saw it as a fantastic buying opportunity. 
So, let me explain the reasons I believe this...
Many said after the Brexit vote in June 2016, we were due a property crash - but we all know what happened afterwards.
Initially, let’s see what would happen if we did have a crash, how quickly it would bounce back and then finally discuss how the chances of a crash are actually quite minimal.
Therefore, to start, I have initially split down the types of property in Royal Tunbridge Wells (Det/Semi etc.) and in the red column put the average value of that Royal Tunbridge Wells property type in 2009. Next in the orange column what those average values are today in 2019.
Royal Tunbridge Wells Property Market 
The likely effects of a Property Crash and Recovery

Average Value in 2009
Average Value in 2019
Assumed Average Value by Q2 2020  (if Property Crash)
Assumed Value in 2024/5
Detached
£567,800
£865,300
£706,300
£891,300
Semi Detached
£292,200
£470,100
£383,700
£500,500
Terraced
£244,300
£401,800
£328,000
£433,700
Apartment
£205,500
£292,500
£238,800
£289,300

Now, assuming we had a property crash like we did in 2008, when average property values dropped nationally by 18.37%, I applied a similar drop to the current 2019 Royal Tunbridge Wells figures (i.e.the green column) to see what would happen to property values by the middle 2020 (because the last crash only took 13/14 months).
…and finally, what would subsequently happen to those same property prices if we had a repeat of the 2009 to 2014 property market bounce back. 

Of course, these are all assumptions and we can’t factor in such things as China going pop on all its debt ... yet either way, the chance of such a crash coming from internal UK factors are much slimmer than in another of the four property crashes we have experienced in the last 80 years. Why, you might ask? 
The seven reasons I believe are these … 
1.    The new Bank of England mortgage rules on lending 2014 to stop reckless lending that fuelled that last crash.
2.    Low inflation.
3.    Low mortgage rates (the average Brit’s fixed rate mortgage is currently 2.26% and the variable rate mortgage of 3.07%).
4.    Wage rises are forecast to continue to outgrow inflation.
5.    Unemployment figures dropping to 4% (down from 8.4% in 2011).
6.    The high percentage (67.7%) of all British mortgages being on a fixed rate.
7.    And notwithstanding the distractions of Brexit over the last few years, it cannot be denied that the British economy has slowly and steadily been heading in the right direction for a number of years, built on some decent foundations of a steady housing market (unlike the 1988 and 2008 crashes when the housing market got overheated very quickly on the run up to the crashes).

So as the circumstances are much different to the last two crashes, the chances of a crash are much slimmer. Yet if we do have a crash, for the very same 7 reasons above why the chances of a crash are unlikely, those 7 reasons would definitely contribute to making the ensuing recession neither too long nor substantial in scale.

One final thought for the homeowners of Royal Tunbridge Wells. Most people when they move home, move up market, meaning in a decreasing market you will actually be the winner, as a 10% drop on yours would be much smaller in £notes than a 10% drop on a bigger property ... think about it.
One final thought for the new and existing buy to let landlords of Royal Tunbridge Wells. Well, the questions I seem to be asked on an almost daily basis by landlords are: -
·      “Should I sell my property in Royal Tunbridge Wells?”
·      “Is the time right to purchase another buy to let property in Royal Tunbridge Wells and if not Royal Tunbridge Wells, where?”
·     “Are there any property bargains out there in Royal Tunbridge Wells to be had?” 


Many other Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords, who are with us and many who are with other Royal Tunbridge Wells letting agents, all like to pop in for a coffee, pick up the phone or email usto discuss the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market, how Royal Tunbridge Wells compares with its closest rivals (Tonbridge, Crowborough and Heathfield), and hopefully answer the three questions above. I don’t bite, I don’t do hard sell, I will just give you my honest and straight-talking opinion. I look forward to hearing from you.