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Cautious Optimism in the Sale Property Market

As the British and Sale property market navigates the ongoing economic turmoil, many homeowners and landlords may feel uncertain about the future.

However, up-to-date data suggests that the 2023 property crash predicted by the many newspapers and the usual clickbait doom-mongers in the lead-up to Christmas on social media, may not be as bad as initially thought, and there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic.

According to property website Rightmove, the average asking price of a home for sale in the UK rose by just £14 in February.

While this might sound like cause for concern, asking prices remaining flat rather than falling could be seen as a positive sign for the year ahead. Remember that they are only what people are asking (and not necessarily achieving).

So, what exactly is happening in the Sale property market?

Well, it all starts with realistic pricing.

Thankfully, most Sale sellers are heeding their estate agents’ advice and being more realistic on price, helping maintain market stability.

If you are realistic with pricing, the property should sell.

The time it takes to get a property to sale agreed upon has increased nationally from 21 days in the summer of 2022 to around 50 days in Q1 2023.

Additionally, despite the turbulent economic conditions, buyer demand is rising. Rightmove also reported in the national press that the number of people contacting estate agents has increased by 11% in the last two weeks compared to the same period in 2019.

The number of sales agreed upon has also rebounded.

Nationally, from 1st January to the 19th February 2023, 134,886 properties had been sold subject to contract in the UK.

Not a good figure when I compare it with the same year-to-date sale agreed figures from the last couple of years.

2022 – 173,607 properties sold stc

2021 – 193,607 properties sold stc

But the last couple of years have been extraordinary for the UK property market and should be taken with a pinch of salt in some respect. We must compare 2023 with more normal years, like 2017/18/19/20. This tells a different story.

2020 – 151,694 properties sold stc

2019 – 143,504 properties sold stc

2018 – 138,665 properties sold stc

2017 – 134,503 properties sold stc

The picture looks similar when we look closer to home in Sale.

In Sale (M33), in the first seven weeks up to the 19th February 2022, 152 properties sold subject to contract.

This year, from the exact 1st January to the 19th February timeline, 132 properties have sold stc, which is lower, yet in the same ballpark as 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Yet it is all terrific selling a house (subject to contract); it is still only sold subject to contract, meaning the sale could fall through (as it is not legally binding).

As an agent who likes to delve deeper into statistics, I considered the ‘net property sales’. (Net Property Sales being the gross number of properties sold that week less the sale fall throughs in the same week).

In the three months leading up to the Mini-Budget in September 2022, there was an average of 17,801 ‘net property sales’ per week in the UK. That dropped by 34.7% two months after the Autumn Mini-Budget to an average of 11,624 ‘net property sales’ per week in the UK.

In the last five weeks, that has rebounded to 17,050 ‘net property sales’ per week.

And when you consider the average for the same five weeks in 2017/18/19 was 18,330 ‘net property sales’ per week, we are close to what many considered a normal market.

Improving market conditions has been supported by a reduction in average mortgage rates. Homebuyers taking out a five-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 15% deposit can expect a rate of 4.39% (correct at the time of writing with HSBC), down from an average of 6.1% in early October. This reduction in mortgage rates may have contributed to the recent increase in buyer demand.

These positive signs in the market have led some experts to suggest that a ‘softer landing’ for the UK property market than initially expected could be on the horizon.

The combination of sellers being more realistic on price and an improving picture of the number of agreed-upon sales suggests a more positive outlook for the property market.

I advise Sale homeowners coming to market in the upcoming spring season to use their agent’s expertise and get the price right the first time to find the right buyer more quickly. If you do wish to chance a higher asking price, only do so for no more than two weeks. If you haven’t sold by then, take the agent’s advice and realign your asking price.

61 Sale homeowners have realigned their asking prices since 1st January 2023.

While it’s true that some first-time buyers may still be priced out of their original plans and may need to look for a cheaper property, save a bigger deposit, or factor higher monthly mortgage repayments into their budgets, there is still cause for optimism.

There is still a considerable demand for buying property in Sale – renting is becoming increasingly unattractive for many people as rents are increasing by double digits percentages.

It is important to remember that purchasing a property always involves a trade-off between what one desires and what is affordable, regardless of the market conditions. For example, while a four-bed detached house may be out of reach, a larger and older three-bed semi-detached property may be a more realistic option (and probably have similar square footage).

Sale landlords looking to invest in buy-to-let homes – now may be a good time, as rising rents could offer attractive returns.

Of the 154 properties let in Sale since the 1st January 2023, the average rent achieved has been £1,198 per month. This is a significant drop in the number of properties let in the same first seven weeks of the years of 2017/18/19 and a massive increase in rents.

Finally, the newspapers will be full of news about house price drops in the coming months. All the indexes report house sales where the sale agreed price was offered nine to eleven months ago and completed (i.e., monies and keys handed over) three or four months ago. This peculiar time lag means the house price data is nearly a year old before publication.

So, if you decide to buy a home on that information, you are using old property data. In late 2021/early 2022, there were 30+ viewings per property, and people paid way over the asking price to secure a property. Now there is more ‘normality’ in the Sale housing market; today’s prices are also more normal (at or slightly below the realistic asking price). So yes, the house price indexes will show a reduction in house prices. The newspapers will say house prices are crashing, yet when it is explained I have above … whilst it is not a newspaper clickbait title – it is the truth and it’s more of a return to more ‘normal house prices’.

So, prepare for clickbait newspaper headlines of a house price crash (because ‘bad news sells newspapers’ as the saying goes).

Also, prepare for the doom-mongers to quote the bad news of the earnings-to-house prices ratio at one of its highest levels ever.

Earnings-to-house price ratios are a poor measurement of health in the UK property market. Instead, I believe Nationwide’s measure of first-time buyer mortgage payments as a percentage of take-home pay is better (as it is actual pound notes out of actual pay packets).

The Nationwide measure of first-time buyer mortgage payments as a percentage of take-home pay has grown for first-time buyers from 30.4% in Q4 2021 to 39.4% in Q4 2022 … a massive rise! Yet mortgage interest rates have dropped since then (so that percentage will fall). Also, to give some context, let us not forget that percentage in 1989 was 48.4%.

Ultimately, Sale homeowners and landlords should decide, based on their unique circumstances, rather than being swayed by newspaper headlines or general market trends. Anyone uncertain about the property market’s future should contact me for my opinion, advice and guidance.

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103% more Sale homes are on the market today than a year ago

More Sale homes are now coming up for sale.

This is excellent news for Sale homebuyers and Sale landlords because as properties are no longer flying off the shelf as they did last year, the number of properties available to buy is beginning to return to long-term averages.

This means there is greater choice for Sale buyers and this will reduce the pressure on Sale house prices and return us to a more normal Sale housing market for buyers (and sellers).

The average UK estate agency now has 25 homes for sale, the highest level of properties on the market since December 2021 (when it was 21 homes for sale). 

However, properties per estate agency brand is not the best judge of the property market.

Let’s look at the actual Sale stats, which tell a slightly different story.

  • Sale Detached Homes – Dec 2021, 25 available and today, 72 available – a rise of 188%
  • Sale Semi-Detached Homes – Dec 2021, 58 available and today, 180 available – a rise of 210%
  • Sale Terraced/Town Houses – Dec 2021, 23 available and today, 66 available – a rise of 187%
  • Sale Apartments – Dec 2021, 106 available and today, 111 available – a rise of 5%

Overall, an increase of 103% – year on year.

(The data for Sale is calculated by looking at all properties and plots for sale within a 2-mile radius of the centre of Sale).

This growth in properties for sale has been seen across all areas of the British Isles. This is important because when there is a more significant availability of homes for sale, this diminishes the increasing pressure on house prices.

So how does a low number of properties for sale make such a huge difference?

Coming into the early spring of 2022, the levels of properties for sale were low (as seen from the low December 2021 stats above). It was ‘Hobson’s choice’ for buyers, so they had to pay top dollar to secure their Sale home.

The value of Sale properties that had their sale agreed upon in the early spring of 2022 (and completed their sale in September 2022) is 14.6% higher than those Sale properties that had a sale agreed upon in the spring of 2021.

The number of properties estate agents have to offer buyers is increasing; this will boost the choice for Sale buyers, meaning we will move into a more balanced Sale housing market. 

Nevertheless, it’s vital that Sale sellers place their properties, when they go onto the market, in line with what Sale homebuyers are prepared to pay, given the current hit to their buying power initiated by higher interest rates.

Sale house prices are not expected to crash in 2023, yet they will be lower than in 2022.

If you are buying and selling in the same property market, it doesn’t matter what happens to property prices.

Also, some might say waiting for Sale house prices to drop will enable them to grab a bargain.

Well, sorry to ‘rain on your parade’, but you should read my recent article that discusses what would happen if Sale first-time buyers waited for Sale house prices to drop. If they waited, because interest rates are rising, the extra mortgage payments would cost them a lot more than the savings made on the purchase price. (Send me a message if you want a copy of it).

What has an effect on the value of your Sale home is the number of properties for sale at any one time compared to the number of buyers. When there is an over-supply of homes for sale, prices go down, and with reduced demand, house prices will go down. So how do the stock levels of properties for sale compare to the past?

If you recall at the start of the article, I stated the average UK estate agency had 25 properties on their books now. In 2018/9, that average was 36 properties for sale (and for added comparison, the long-term average, since records began in 2016, is 49 homes for sale).

As you can see, whilst stock levels have grown, we are a long way off the long-term average.

A great way to determine what will happen to the property market is by measuring that stock level (i.e. the number of properties for sale). Check once a month and see how many properties are for sale. Let me break that down for Sale specifically and how you can judge the market from your sofa.

There are 444 properties and plots for sale in Sale now. To give context, the long-term 16-year average is 984 properties and plots for sale, yet in the credit crunch of 2008, it reached 2,215 properties and plots for sale at one point.

I envisage some component of scarcity to persist in the Sale property market, meaning whilst the house prices that were being achieved in the spring of 2022 won’t be replicated in 2023, it also won’t fall dramatically next year. 

The incentives and impetuses to move home have changed in the last six months and will continue to do so into 2023. 

As I have written before, there are a larger number of mature homeowners in their 60s and 70s downsizing to help with heating bills, whilst the desire for more space means younger families will continue to look for new homes to live in, in 2023. 

If younger 20-somethings can access the Bank of Mum and Dad for mortgage deposits, they will also carry on buying. This is especially true because double-digit rental inflation makes renting quite expensive compared to buying (even with the increased interest rates).

These are my thoughts on the Sale property market this week. Do put in the comments (or send me a message) your thoughts on the matter discussed and any other property-related topic you want some advice and opinion on.

Thank you in advance …

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Could the humble ‘granny annexe’ help solve the Sale housing crisis for mature homeowners?

Most Sale homeowners born before 1960 have been in their homes for more than 25 years.

Yet of all the properties sold in the UK since the first lockdown in the summer of 2020, 50% of those property owners had only been in their homes for six years and four months or less. That means we almost have a two speed housing market.

One market of homeowners in their 20s and 30s who move every four to five years and another property market of homeowners who, when they hit their late 40s, tend to stay put for decades. Yet now those mature homeowners, many of whom are retired and on fixed incomes with pensions, are finding it a lot more challenging to make ends meet with the cost-of-living crisis.

Evidence suggests nationally and locally, a lot of larger houses (property which tends to be owned by mature homeowners) have come onto the market in the last 12 months compared to the previous few years.

There has been a drop of 22.9% of properties priced up to £200,000 on the market in the UK in the last 12 months, yet an increase of 13.3% of properties priced between £500k and £1m.

Focusing on the lower price range nationally, there are 39.4% fewer properties for sale in the price range up to £100k, 27% fewer in the £100k to £150k range and 14.9% fewer in the £150k to £200k range. The range that has seen the highest growth is the £600k to £750k, which has grown by 14.2%.

ooking closer to home in Sale …

there are 18% more properties for sale in the Sale area today, compared to a year ago (396 properties for sale now compared to 336 a year ago).

But it gets much more interesting when you split the increases by bedrooms and property type.

Properties with more bedrooms tend to be more expensive than those with fewer. Also, detached and semi-detached properties are more expensive than terraced/townhouses and apartments.

5-bed Sale properties – an increase of 10%

4-bed Sale properties – an increase of 39%

3-bed Sale properties – an increase of 74%

2-bed Sale properties – a decrease of 12%

1-bed Sale properties – a decrease of 19%

And now, by type …

Sale detached properties – an increase of 5%

Sale semi-detached properties – an increase of 98%

Sale terraced/town house properties – an increase of 38%

Sale apartments – a decrease of 25%

The increase in these larger Sale homes is great news for second or third-time movers, as it releases larger homes for them to bring up their young families.

Yet, the other side is the lack of properties for these mature Sale homeowners to buy.

There are 12.7 million people aged 65 and over in the UK (19% of the total population), yet there are only 2 million bungalows (which represent 7.2% of all UK property).

When it comes to new properties, the figures are even worse.

Of the 173,660 properties built in 2019, only 2,384 were bungalows.

And this is where the annexe could be one part of the solution.

Annexes are buildings often erected in gardens or extended onto an existing property to be used as separate and independent living accommodation.

Generally, the ‘granny annexe’ has been used to keep one’s parents and grandparents nearby whilst retaining their independence. Roll the clock back to the Millennium; annexes were seen as excess accommodation that added little to the saleability or value of property.

Interestingly though, in the last few years, the annexe has had a renaissance and has become a practical, economical and emotional answer for a more flexible group of homeowners.

Lockdown brought working from home to the fore, and the annexe is undoubtedly an excellent solution for many homeowners.

Lockdown saw many people recognise the importance of having their family close by. I have seen several mature Sale homeowners build an annexe extension in the garden, then move into the annexe themselves and give their original property to their children to live in.  Thus helping two families with their accommodation needs and the advantage of shared fuel costs (plus other benefits such as childcare).

Also, as mortgage rates are rising, the annexe could be the salvation for either your first-time buyer child/grandchild who cannot afford to buy their first home because of mortgage affordability rules or who is finding it tough to save a deposit for a mortgage.

The demand is there for annexes. In December 2020, Rightmove reported a year-on-year 89% increase in the number of home buyers and tenants searching for the term ‘annexe’. Demand is high and supply, as seen by these statistics, is low.

Of the 396 properties for sale in the Sale area, only 3 have an annexe.

I believe the lockdown made many of us look at how we live in the UK. Many people are adopting, adapting and changing how they look at housing. With recent planning regulation changes, the rules were relaxed a few years ago, which allowed homeowners to extend their homes without planning permission in an arrangement called ‘Permitted Development’.

If you are a mature/older Sale homeowner or have mature/older parents and want to look at all your options regarding upsizing, downsizing and annexes then, without any obligation, drop me a message and let’s chat through your options.

For everyone else in Sale, what do you think about annexes? And what other solutions could help solve the housing issue in Sale and the UK as a whole?

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Will Waiting for the Sale House Market to Crash Cost You More in the Long Run?

Doom and gloom in the British property market or clickbait doom-mongers?

Newspapers and clickbait 24-7 news websites, desperate for clicks, are peddling a story of a doomsday time for the economy, particularly the property market, as interest rates and inflation create the perfect storm for the UK property market.

So, let us look at what is happening in the British property market and whether house prices will drop.

Yes – Sale house prices will be lower in 24 months.

Yet the reductions in what I believe a property will sell for in the next couple of years compared to the doom-mongers is wildly different.

The doom-mongers are saying the 2022 property market will be like the crash years of 1988 and 2008.

I’m afraid I have to disagree, let me explain what the difference is this time compared to the previous house price crashes.

To start with …

56.25% of homeowners don’t have a mortgage, whilst in 1988, that was 35.8%. These people are shielded from the interest rate rises.

The next point is negative equity.

Yes, negative equity was an issue after 1988 when everyone had an endowment mortgage, so they never paid any of the capital off their mortgage. Therefore, when house prices dropped, negative equity was a massive issue as people owed more than what their house was worth.

By 2008, nobody was taking out endowment mortgages, yet still, 1 in 2 were interest-only mortgages (meaning the capital wasn’t being paid off). Today, 17 out of 20 homeowners are on repayment mortgages – so they have more home equity, so negative equity isn’t so much an issue.

The issue is the increasing interest rates. Yes, they are rising … albeit from artificially low rates.

In 1988, nearly everyone was on a variable rate mortgage and an average mortgage interest rate was 10.8%, and they rose to 16.4% by 1990. That hurt, yet most survived.

In 2008, 6 out of 10 homeowners had learned their lesson and were on fixed rates at an average rate of 6.07%. Today 17 out of 20 homeowners have long-term fixed rates with an average of 2.14%.

Also, it must be noted that homebuyers have been stress tested for 6% to 7% mortgage rates since 2014 because of the Bank of England MMR rule changes. It will be challenging, and lifestyle choices will need to be made, yet we should not see the dumping of houses on the market as we did in 2008/9.

The next issue is the number of mortgages being pulled. Yes, around 1,000 mortgage deals have been removed in the last few weeks – yet there are still 3,000+ deals out there … and most are still fixed rates.

Also, let’s not forget that 1 in 5 people rent today and are protected from all this, yet in 1988, only 1 in 14 rented.

Therefore, the economic conditions surrounding the house price crash in 1988 and 2008 are not there now.

Don’t get me wrong, those homeowners coming off their fixed rates of around 2% in the coming years will have to make tough choices as they will see their monthly mortgage payments rise substantially.

Yet, as I have discussed in other articles, extending your mortgage term can significantly affect your monthly mortgage payments and there are things that homeowners should be doing now to mitigate the issue in the coming few years.

But back to the question, should people wait to move, and what will happen to Sale property prices?

I believe that subject to nothing seismic happening in the world, Sale property values will be broadly neutral and slowly drift downwards over the next 24 months. I believe they will drift because of the issues of inflation and mortgage affordability, yet we won’t have a crash for the points made in the first part of this article. I believe Sale property will be selling for sums of 4% to 6% less in a couple of years compared to today.

This means if we achieve prices of 4% to 6% less, homeowners will still be getting the same prices the property market was getting in the summer of 2021 – again – nobody was complaining about those!

However, let us assume I am wrong with my thoughts, and we see a significant house price crash; what then?

Well, let me look at the last two house price crashes first.

The housing crash of 1988 saw the average house in the UK drop from £63,784 to £50,167, a drop of 20.09%.

The housing crash of 2008 saw the average house in the UK drop from £184,132 to £154,065, a drop of 16.33%.

So, let’s assume that Sale house prices fall by 18% – surprisingly, it will not help Sale buyers.

In previous house price crashes, people tend to find their careers are more at risk, and in turn, their wages don’t rise as much. It is the younger generation (i.e., first-time buyers age range) that often gets hit the toughest by these recessions.

Let me look at Sale first-time buyers.

If Sale first-time buyers wait until 2024 to buy and Sale property values drop by 18%, that will prove more expensive. Let me explain why …

In the last property crash of 2008, lenders withdrew 5% deposit mortgages. The smallest mortgage that first-time buyers could obtain was with a 10% deposit, and even those were hard to come by.

When writing this article, first-time buyers can obtain a 5% deposit mortgage for a fixed rate of 3.92% for five years.

The typical first-time buyer terraced house in Sale sells for £300,145.

If first-time buyers were to buy now, on this mortgage deal, they would have to find a £15,007 deposit, and their monthly mortgage payments would be £1,248.87 per month.

So, let’s say property values in Sale do drop by 18% in the next 24 months; the terraced house would now be worth £246,119, a significant saving in the purchase price.

Or is it?

Everyone believes the Bank of England will raise interest rates further, so let’s assume they go to 5.5% by the autumn of 2024. That will mean the rate for a 10% deposit first-time buyer mortgage will be in the early 7%’s, so let me assume 7.19% (because the lenders have in the past increased the gap between the Bank of England base rate and the mortgage rate in more challenging economic times to allow for the extra risk).

The monthly mortgage payment in two years on the 7.19% mortgage would be £1,444.72 per month, and in those two years, you would have had to have saved an additional £9,605 to make up your 10% deposit of £24,612.

So even if Sale’s house prices did drop by 18%, the first-time buyer would be £2,350 worse off a year in mortgage payments (and would have to save many thousands extra for their deposit)

… and then there is the other cost of waiting.

You have two years’ worth of rent to pay. The average rent for a Sale property is £1,200 per month.

If you waited a couple of years for Sale house prices to drop by 18%, you would spend £28,800 in rent plus have higher mortgage payments in 2024/5/6 and with the extra deposit mentioned above it would add up to an additional £45,455 over the next five years.

Yes, the price you paid for your Sale home would be lower if you waited two years. Yet, you would only benefit from that when you sold on versus the economic pain of two years of extra renting, the higher deposit and higher mortgage payments in a couple of years.

This doesn’t even consider the emotional cost of putting your life on hold for two years, and there is no guarantee that the mortgage lending criteria in two years would allow you to step onto the property ladder.

So, now I have shown that waiting will cost you financially and emotionally, what are your thoughts on the matter?

Sale house prices will drop, yet did you realise it will cost you more, even if house prices are falling?

Do you believe the doom-mongers, or do you believe in the robust nature of the British economy?

Don’t forget, George Osbourne said house prices would drop by 18% in May 2016 if we voted to leave the European Union, whilst many economists said house prices would fall by 5% to 10% when Covid hit in March 2020.

And we all know what happened to those predictions now.

If you believe you will be better off owning your own Sale home rather than renting one, don’t bother to wait for the suggested house price crash that may never happen.

These are my thoughts – what are yours? Let me know in the comments.

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What will the stamp duty cuts and interest rate rises mean for homeowners and landlords?

The Bank of England increased interest rates to 2.25% and they are expected to be 3.25% by early next year. This increase will make the monthly mortgage payments more expensive for first-time buyers, an issue dubbed by some as the ‘property affordability crunch.’

It will also damage the household budgets of homeowners coming off their fixed-rate mortgages in the next 12 months.

So how many homeowners are coming off their fixed rates in the next year?

Of the 7.97 million homeowners with a mortgage in the UK, 6.1 million of them are on a fixed-rate mortgage at an average rate of 2.04%. Industry statistics show around 1.3 million homeowners are coming off their fixed rate in the next 12 months.

The current crop of fixed-rate mortgage deals available today have already had the recent increase in the base rate ‘priced-in’ for weeks.

The cheapest 5-year fixed-rate today for a 65% Loan to Value re-mortgage (i.e., you are borrowing 65% of the value of your home) is a mortgage rate of 3.8% with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

So, what will be the difference in mortgage payments between a 2.04% mortgage and a 3.8% mortgage? Lets look at Lymm as an example…

Say an average Lymm first-time buyer bought their first home in November 2019 on a 25-year mortgage. They had a 3-year fixed-rate mortgage, and let’s assume they fixed it at 2.04% (as mentioned above), meaning their fixed-rate deal finishes next month. They have £260,000 outstanding on their mortgage, and their Lymm house is worth £400,000. They would have been paying £1,107 per month for the last three years (assuming they took out a 25-year repayment mortgage).

On the RBS deal above, they will have to start paying £1,548 per month from November when they come off their initial rate – a rise of £441 per month in mortgage payments. That’s quite a rise and potential blow to their household budgets.

Yet if they pushed back the repayment term from 22 years to, say, 35 years, that reduces the payment to £1,120 per month – something to consider if you are re-mortgaging in the coming 12 months.

What will the stamp duty changes mean for Lymm property owners?

Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng believed that cutting stamp duty will support economic growth by encouraging more people to move home or jump onto the property ladder.

Stamp duty also has other harmful side effects as it decreases labour market elasticity and curtails people from selling up and buying elsewhere, where the jobs are.

Also, stamp duty makes mature homeowners stay put in their large homes rather than downsizing. This reduction in stamp duty will encourage those mature homeowners to move, thus freeing up their large family homes for the younger families that need them.

The ex-Chancellor doubled the zero-rate stamp duty band from £125,000 to £250,000, passing a stamp duty tax saving of up to £2,500 for all English homebuyers.

Also, tax savings are even more significant for first-time buyers, particularly in areas with high house prices, such as London and the South East. They can save a maximum of £11,250 in stamp duty – with a new zero-rate band of £425,000, based on a higher £625,000 spend cap (i.e., the house they buy can’t be over £625,000 for them to qualify for the tax relief).

So, what effect will these stamp duty changes have on the Lymm property market? Looking at recent events in the local property market is the best place to start.

Of the 283 transactions in the Lymm area since June 2021, 67 were below £250,000. These would now be tax-free!

Unsurprisingly, most housing transactions in Lymm were above the £250,000 threshold, yet irrespective of that point, it’s a saving of up to £2,500 for all future Lymm homebuyers.

Anyone currently buying a house in Lymm and not yet completed on their purchase (completion is when you have paid the money for your home and collected the keys) will be in line to make this saving.

Lymm landlords purchasing buy-to-let properties will also save money with the stamp duty cut (but they will still be liable for their second home stamp duty levy of 3%).

Overall, this is a welcome move to help the Lymm property market.

Yet will the stamp duty threshold rise have the seismic effect that the Rishi Sunak stamp duty holiday did in 2021, where just under 40% more people moved home than the long-term 30-year average?

I am sure the stamp duty cut will somewhat offset the rising costs in mortgage rates mentioned in this article and cushion the blow to the property market.

A blow to what you might ask?

Well, many people judge the property market’s health by house prices.

The average value of a Lymm property stands at £464,146 and has risen 40.1% in the last five years. Not bad, eh?

But I believe there is a better way to judge the health of the local property market, and that is the number of people moving home (i.e., housing transactions).

You might be asking yourself why we should be more concerned about the number of property transactions and not the change in property values.

Many economists believe the number of property transactions is a far more accurate bellwether for the health and potency of the local housing market. A greater number of people moving home is better for the whole economy (i.e., what these changes are being made for) than a smaller number of transactions, whilst the same can’t be said for higher house prices. 

So, what is going to happen to Lymm house prices?

I believe the growth in Lymm house prices achieved in 2021/22 is not sustainable into 2023.

In conjunction with the price cap on energy bills, the stamp duty change, the reversal of the rise in National Insurance and the drop in Income Tax will mitigate house price drops. Yet, I foresee a ‘slight’ realignment in the house prices being achieved in 2023, compared to 2022.

The more significant impact these changes will have is the number of people moving home in the next 12 months.

I have been forecasting a 15% to 20% year-on-year drop in Lymm property transactions in 2023. Following this stamp duty cut and the measures mentioned above, I believe it will be lower, yet around 5% lower.

To conclude, I predict we will have slightly lower house prices and fewer people moving home in Lymm, but not any way a crash that many thought was on the horizon.

Before I go though, let me share some thoughts on whether stamp duty is a fair tax.

Now, this is almost a topic for a standalone article itself. Some economists believe that removing stamp duty (which raised £14.1bn in tax in 2021) and replacing that lost income to the Exchequer by increasing council tax on more expensive properties would do a lot more than other intended tax cuts to boost economic growth.

According to some commentators, the way UK Government taxes housing is flawed. They suggest instead of taxing an infrequent property transaction particularly harshly (the average stamp duty bill is £10,600), the Government should tax living in a house more, especially those who live in the higher priced properties.

So let us see how viable that could be…

Even if council tax was frozen for bands A to D (the lower priced properties), and the uplift between the more expensive council tax bands was doubled on each step between band D and H (so a typical band E property owner would see their council tax rise from £2,473 to £3,628 per year and a typical Band H see a rise of from £3,435 per year to £5,790 per year), such massive increases in council tax would be political suicide for the wealthy Tory voting homeowners and only raise £5.28bn – a long way from the £14.1bn currently raised.

Now, if the £14.1bn tax raise were spread evenly over all council tax bands, the average band D property would need to rise by £490 per year, and even a band A would increase by an extra £382 a year … something that again would be political suicide.

Yes, stamp duty is flawed. It’s just every other option has more significant flaws.

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House Prices Ought to be Falling – these are the reasons they are not.

Looking at the newspapers with their doom and gloom headlines, you would think that the Sale property market (and the British property market) would be on its knees.

Lets have a look at Sale as an example.

Ring some Sale estate agents for a viewing or free valuation, and if you can get an appointment within a week to ten days, you are doing well!

British properties continue to sell in good numbers.

In July and August 2022, sales have been agreed on an average of 25,476 UK properties per week.

Interesting when compared to the averages of 27,351 sales agreed per week in 2021 and 26,382 sales agreed per week, year to date in 2022.

So why is the Sale property market defying all expectations?

It is because there is an absolute shortage of properties to buy on the books of Sale estate agents, meaning Sale house prices are being kept buoyant (as demand exceeds supply).

Today, there are 356 properties available to buy in Sale. Roll the clock back to October 2007, the month before the last house price crash, and it was 1,918.

That’s 81% fewer properties to buy today in Sale than the month before the property crash.

Notwithstanding suggestions that the Bank of England’s higher interest rates would peter out British house price growth, the continued limited supply of properties coming onto the market has helped Sale house prices climb.

Sale house prices are 13.2% higher today than a year ago.

Nevertheless, there is evidence that the insane demand for property has started to ease, and supply is increasing, which means that the direction of the Sale housing market will begin to change in the coming months.

This can be seen in several ways.

Back in January and February (2022), 8,094 UK properties per week were reducing their asking prices, whilst this July and August that had risen to an average of 13,115 UK properties per week. This is significant as some ‘optimistic’ homeowners who placed their properties on the market in the spring and early summer have had to reduce their ‘optimistic’ asking prices to attract buyers.

Also, the number of UK house sales falling through (i.e., when the sale is agreed yet the sale falls through before the legal paperwork is completed) is starting to creep upwards from an average of 5,558 properties a week in the spring of 2022 to 6,854 per week in July and August 2022.

Sale house prices have risen over recent times; the latest figures are based on what was selling in the late winter/early spring of this year and subsequently completing the sale in the early summer.

The prices obtained by the estate agents on properties achieving a sale in Sale today (i.e. in the autumn of 2022) are slightly lower than what was obtained nine months ago. This means the house statistics published in early spring 2023 will slightly reduce. Nothing to worry about – I want to give you a heads up and not to be concerned. The simple fact is …

we are returning to a more normal Sale housing market this autumn, compared to the crazy last 30 months since the end of lockdown one.

With UK inflation standing at 9.9%, this brings an interesting scenario for Sale property values.

Reducing ‘real’ wages will hit first-time buyers and existing homeowners’ disposable income, while the same high inflation will make the Bank of England increase interest rates.

These things will significantly reduce homebuyers’ capacity to afford their mortgages as the fewer people who can take out a mortgage; the fewer buyers will buy homes.

The Bank of England base rate currently stands at 1.75%, yet forecasts suggest it could end the year between 2.75% and 3%. Yet let us not forget the long-term average over the last 50 years has been between 7.1% and 7.2%, and many mature Sale homeowners will remember Bank of England Base Rates of 17% in 1979, so these sorts of increases are still off a low base.

During these autumn months though, the lack of properties on the market and available to buy still support Sale house prices. The newspapers compete for attention and use clickbait titles to generate more interest in the publications.

The simple fact is that unless something seismically happens in the world to change things materially, the Sale and British property markets will continue to harden slowly and will face some different challenges compared to the last 30 months, but fundamentally Sale house prices will remain broadly neutral over the next 12 to 18 months.

These are my thoughts; what are yours?

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Why Does it Take 114 Days to Get the Keys When You Buy a House in Lymm?

  • 203 properties have sold in the Lymm area in the last 12 months.
  • It only takes 39 days to sell a Lymm home, so why does it take 114 days from the sold board going up to the buyer getting the keys?
  • With a shortage of solicitors and a sub-standard conveyancing system, this article discusses what Lymm house sellers (and buyers) can do to speed up the house buying process.

Nationally, the average length of time it takes from agreeing the sale of a property to the keys being handed over is 111 days (down from 117 days last year), yet in Lymm, we are above the national average at 114 days.

So why does it take just over 16 weeks, when all that is required is the lawyers to look at some paperwork and get a mortgage? Also, what can Lymm homebuyers and sellers do to speed this up? 

The legal process to buy and sell a UK property is called conveyancing. The conveyancing system itself hasn’t really changed in hundreds of years. After the housing market was reopened after the first lockdown in the spring of 2020, the property market returned with a bang, helped on with the stamp duty holiday.

In 2021, the number of properties selling in Lymm in some months went up massively, e.g., by 96% June 2021 and by 65% in March 2021. Many conveyancers and solicitors had to sort the legal paperwork out for upwards of 120 to 150 properties each at any one time.

This glut of sold properties caused by the pandemic that needed legal work to be sorted exacerbated a problem already present in the conveyancing industry.

For years conveyancers have complained of overwork and underpay. Conveyancing is seen as the Cinderella of the legal profession. This workload was the straw that broke the camel’s back, making many conveyancers leave the profession and go into better paid legal work like corporate work.

Also, the legal process of conveyancing has built-in inefficiencies, and the conveyancing profession has been relatively slow to innovate. However, there are some excellent tech solutions that are being slowly rolled out across the industry to make the process more efficient and effective.

What can Lymm home buyers and sellers do to speed up their property sale?

If you are buying or selling your Lymm property as we speak, you won’t be able to wait for the conveyancing profession to be revamped, yet you can be as pre-emptive as possible to get your Lymm house sale through earlier.

In a nutshell, ensure you have all the paperwork sorted on your Lymm home before you put your home on the market. Next, get the ball rolling on your mortgage. If you receive some paperwork, read it, check it, sign it and send it back in a day, do not leave it a week; finally, always communicate frequently with your estate agent and conveyancer.

When you instruct a solicitor, most will request money to start the ball rolling for searches and disbursements. They won’t lift a finger until that is paid.

You will have to prove who you are in the conveyancing process, so your conveyancer will ask you to show them proof of ID and address. If you are buying, they will need to prove you have the funds/deposit to buy the home (and if your deposit is coming from family/friends, then they are required to write a letter to that effect).

How can the house buying and selling process be improved?

A couple of years ago, the Government set up the Home Buying and Selling Group to find the answer to this problem. Chaired by the well-known property guru Kate Faulkner, it is looking at an amalgamated Seller’s Information Pack (SIPs) and an IT-based single platform to share and communicate that SIP between buyers, sellers, their conveyancers, the estate agent, mortgage providers and brokers and finally surveyors.

The advantage of the SIP is that it can be created before the buyer has been found, meaning property buyers would be more knowledgeable when making an offer. Also, once the sale has been agreed upon, the SIP could be sent straightaway electronically to the buyers’ legal team (from the seller’s legal team) to start the procedure of asking for searches and raising inquiries.

The bottom line is the conveyancing process is not fit for purpose in the 21st century and change is on the horizon.

So, before the SIP becomes mandatory, there are things everyone can do to ensure they get the home of their dreams quicker.

At my agency, I recommend the seller, us as the agent and the conveyancer start to liaise with each other to get the key information on the property being sold as quickly as possible. Then once a buyer is found, I believe it is vital we, as the agent, regularly communicate with all the stakeholders in the chain to ensure everyone is playing their part to expedite the sale.

In the future, utilising technology and every agent/conveyancer preparing information upfront with the SIP will drastically reduce the time it takes between agreeing a sale and the keys/monies handed over.

The conveyancing process will have to change to meet the needs of the 21st century, but how long that will take is the big question.

If you would like to chat with me about how we do things differently to ensure your property not only gets the best price and how we do all we can, as agents, to expedite a smooth sale for your Lymm property, do not hesitate to pick up the phone to me or drop me a line at the office.

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1 in 5 Sale Homeowners Unable to Sell

  • The average time to find a buyer for a Sale property reduced from 65 days in 2020 to 42 days in 2021.
  • Yet still, just over 1 in 5 Sale homeowners are on the market after 12 weeks.
  • Why are so many Sale homes still on the market after all that time, and what does it mean for the Sale property market?

You would have needed to have been living in a cave since the end of Lockdown No.1, not to realise the property market has been on fire in Sale (and the UK as a whole) for the last 18/20 months.

It has been very much a seller’s market, especially in 2021. Yet as we enter the second quarter of 2022, I have noticed a slight rebalancing of the Sale property market, more towards buyers, something that is good news for everyone (sellers and buyers) locally.

In 2020, it took on average 65 days from the average Sale property appearing on the property portals (i.e. Rightmove, Zoopla etc) to the property going sold (STC).

Interesting when compared to the national average of 72 days in 2020. Yet, last year, this was reduced to 42 days in Sale (51 days nationally).

So, what’s the issue with the Sale property market being on fire?

Well, that was last year, and things have changed slightly since.

Of the properties for sale in Sale, 22.5% of houses have been on the market for more than 12 weeks.

That doesn’t sound a lot, yet that is an eternity in this market!

So, why are there so many properties on the market in Sale still for sale after all this time … it usually comes down to one thing … the practice of ‘overvaluing’.

So before I explain what overvaluing is, let me give you some background.

Many agents (not just ourselves), in 2021, were achieving top prices for Sale property with multiple offers becoming the standard. The property they were selling was only available to buy for days before the owner obtained multiple offers that were not only at a satisfactory level, yet more than they ever dreamed likely.

Although this was great news for Sale homeowners, this caused fewer homes to come onto the market in the last six months in Sale, as people were afraid to put their home on the market without having a property to buy.  

With fewer properties coming onto the market, some estate agents have become more and more desperate to get a larger slice of this smaller property market. It has seen an unwelcome side of the estate agency profession, the estate agency practice of ‘overvaluing’.

While ‘overvaluing’ is nothing new, the custom has been generally limited to a small number of estate agents. Yet now, it’s become more prevalent and creates uncountable distress and pressure for some Sale homeowners.

Many Sale homeowners want to sell quickly to get the property of their dreams. Yet, in many cases, when they do put their property on to the market, they don’t sell quickly enough because of this ‘overvaluing’ (even with the fantastic current property market conditions).

To give you an idea of the issue…

55% of Sale homes put on the market in the last 30 days have not sold.

There are hundreds of Sale families having their dreams dashed by ‘overvaluing.’

Therefore, let me look at exactly what overvaluing is, why it’s on the rise and most importantly, the harm overvaluing causes to homeowners like yourself.

You would think the most important thing in estate agency is all about finding the best buyer for your home, at the best price, who can make the move with the least amount of hassle.

To us it is, and to many other Sale estate agents, it is as well. Yet, to some agents, sales aren’t the essential objective. Instead, it is having a vigorous catalogue of properties to sell to generate more future leads.

Deprived of an endless number of new properties for sale, the enquiries estate agents receive will significantly drop, leaving them high and dry without any buyer (or seller) leads, the lifeblood of estate agents.

Therefore, some (not all), but some estate agents will feed on a homeowner’s appetite to get the highest possible price for their Sale home by giving them an over-inflated suggested asking price to market their property at (i.e. ‘overvaluing’).

If one estate agent can get you an extra £30,000 for your Sale home, you will take it, won’t you?

The suggestion of pushing the asking price of your Sale home for 10%, 15% even 20% could be seen by many as a temptation too good to miss. Yet once you are on the market, the agent is trained to slowly get you to reduce your asking price over a lengthy sole agency agreement.

The problem is that the home of your dreams might have sold by the time you reduced your price in 3 months. Also, Which reports in 2017 and 2019 proved you ended up getting less for your home when it did eventually sell (which means you lose money) and finally, the agents know homeowners perceive it’s a hassle to swap agents (which it isn’t).

But estate agents only get paid when they sell the house; why do they overvalue?

Would it surprise you that some Estate Agency chains pay their staff a commission when they put the property on to the market, not when it sells? So, their team overinflate their suggested asking prices to get that commission.

Over the last 18 months, with the rising property market, there has undoubtedly been a valid reason for pushing the envelope on the asking price. Yet, if every house like yours is on the market or sold subject to contract at £300,000 to £320,000, yours isn’t going to achieve £355,000, let alone £375,000 – even in this market.

With 55% of Sale homes still for sale after a month, the market is starting to level out and if you are keen to sell, then let me give you some advice.

Research has shown that if the asking price is initially set too high, it will be ignored by people surfing Rightmove and Zoopla.

(Come on, be honest – you have done that yourself haven’t you?)

When the property is eventually reduced because it has the stigma of being on the property market too long (begging the question of potential buyers that there may be a problem with the property itself hence no interest?), often when it does eventually sell, it will sell for less than what it would have done if it were priced correctly from day one (as per the two reports from Which in 2017 and 2019).

Of course, on the other hand, setting the asking price below its market value means potentially leaving money on the table needlessly – hence the need for a good agent.

Putting your Sale home or buy-to-let investment up for sale at the right price from the beginning is the key to selling within the best time frame and for the best price to a serious and motivated buyer.

Ask a handful of estate agents to value your home, ask them to back up any valuation of your Sale home with cold hard comparables of similar properties to yours.

Find your comparables by searching ALL the property portals (i.e. Rightmove, Zoopla, Boomin, OnTheMarket).

If you only take away one thing from this article, when you search the portals for comparables, make sure you include under offer/sold STC properties, as that will triple the comparable evidence. 

Thus, by doing your homework and then working with a dependable, trustworthy and experienced Sale estate agent, who will help to ensure that your Sale property is put on the market to get you, the homeowner, the best price from day one without over cooking it (so you don’t lose out), you will be just fine.

These are my thoughts, let me know if you have any yourself.

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Why Are There So Few Homes on the Market in Sale?

  • 29% drop in the number of properties for sale in Sale in the last 12 months.
  • 521 Sale homes have sold (stc) in the last three months alone, taking the time from the ‘for sale board’ going up to sale agreed to a median of 15 days.
  • The £200k to £300k price range in Sale is the most active, where it only takes 14 days to agree a sale, but the £100k and under bracket is taking 35 days.
  • Yet what issues cause the people of Sale to want to move home and what can Sale people, who want to move in 2022, do to ensure they sell and find the home of their dreams?

There are 286 properties for sale today in Sale; roll the clock back exactly a year, and the figure was 405 – so there’s been a drop of 29%. This drop is being dubbed the ‘for sale board crunch’.

The ‘for sale board crunch’ has left many prospective Sale home buyers stressed trying to find the right Sale property as the number of properties available to buy has dropped significantly.

I am sure you know people looking for their next Sale home, but when they see it on the portals (Rightmove, Zoopla, Boomin, OnTheMarket etc.) the properties are gone within days.

With demand at an all-time high, many Sale home buyers are in a state of misery as Sale house prices have grown in the last few years, forcing many of them to review their plans.

They are victims of the ‘for sale board crunch’ in the Sale property market, the likes of which have not been seen since 2007.

Normally when there has been excess demand in the residential sales market, that frothiness has been taken care of by people moving into rented accommodation. However, the number of Sale properties available to rent is at a 15-year low.

So why is the Sale property market this way?

Demand for Sale homes has exceeded the number of properties for sale since the general election in December 2019. After years of long drawn out Brexit negotiations, homeowners and buyers were more confident about their move. Many Sale people who put their home move on hold in 2018/19 had more confidence to return to the market.

The first lockdown in the spring of 2020 did nothing to quell this pent-up urge, and since the late spring of 2020, the Sale property market has been on fire! The lockdown changed what homeowners were looking for in their Sale home. Proximity to public transport dropped down the wish list for buyers, and demand for apartments dropped. Whilst properties with larger gardens and rooms that could double up as home offices tended to be at the top of most Sale buyers’ wish lists.

Around 36% more Sale properties have sold in the last 18 months than the long-term 20-year average.

Looking at the supply side of the equation, in the last five years, an average of 204,410 new homes per year have been added to the number of properties available in the UK. Also, 239,600 properties came back into the market when they became available after their owners had sadly passed away. Yet still, that isn’t enough. The country needs at least 300,000 new dwellings to keep pace with demand.

There is also another problem that has come to light with the cladding issue of apartments. Just over three-quarters of a million apartments have issues with cladding. Whilst these are being sorted out (which will take many years), they are essentially unsaleable unless a fire safety expert on these buildings signs them as safe.

These cladding issues prevent these apartments from coming onto the market (thus reducing the supply of properties to buy). It also precludes their owners from moving up the property ladder from their apartment to a house. Also, many first-time buyers who can save a bigger deposit or be gifted cash from the Bank of Mum and Dad are skipping the apartment as their first home and going straight for a house, thus intensifying the lack of larger properties for sale.

So, how long does it take to sell a Sale property now?

Sale Apartments – 28 days

Sale Terraced / Town House – 14 days

Sale Semi-Detached – 14 days

Sale Detached – 22 days

This means it is a seller’s market in Sale, empowering them to push up their asking prices in high demand areas. However, most sellers are also buyers, which means the advantage they have on selling their property is turned on its head when they come to buy.

Many Sale sellers prefer to find their future Sale home before putting their current home on the market. That is making the lack of properties on the market seem even harsher than it may otherwise be.  

The ‘for sale board crunch’ would be somewhat eased if Sale sellers put their property onto the market whilst they were hunting for their next ‘forever home’.

However, not all Sale homeowners are doing so, partially because they (wrongly) believe they will be made homeless if they find a buyer and can’t find another property to buy (remember, you are not legally committed to moving until exchange of contracts).

A big issue will be finding a suitable Sale home. We very much have a chicken and egg scenario. Some homeowners are waiting for the right property to become available before they put their home on the market. This will probably mean that the Sale property will sell even before the photographs have been taken of your home.  

Yet, many Sale homeowners are worried if they put their house on the market and it sells, they won’t be able to find another suitable home and thus be homeless.

Classic chicken and egg – so what do you do first?

There is another way of doing this. It’s a technique estate agents used to use before the internet, and it’s called ‘chain building’. Many Sale homeowners are contacting me to move home yet don’t want to be made homeless. What we do is slowly build a group of people in a chain over many months. It requires a lot of patience to build a chain downwards and upwards around you.  

There is no cost to this and no legal commitment to go through. It can take six, even twelve months to build a chain of people who are prepared to wait for the chain to form.

Yet, everyone normally gets their next ‘forever home’ by playing this long game.

Because if you don’t play the long game, build relationships with Sale Estate Agents (who can build these chains) and only rely on waiting for properties to appear on Rightmove, Boomin, OnTheMarket or Zoopla, you will be sorely disappointed.

According to national research from Denton House Research, 7 out of 8 people who viewed a house through an estate agent in 2021 were not on the mailing list of that agent before they viewed it.

That means all these Sale properties built on a chain builder (as above) will sell, yet won’t appear on Rightmove or Zoopla, meaning you will miss out. 

You must get yourself on the mailing list of our estate agency (and other agents if they do this chain building) so you don’t miss out on your next forever home in Sale. 

If you would like a chat about anything mentioned in this article, feel free to drop me a message or call me.

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Sale People’s Addiction to Their Spare Bedrooms?

The Housing Minister, Chris Pincher, has suggested older homeowners are “rattling around” in their homes as they are too big for them. He implied they are selfish and should sell up and move to a retirement home when he spoke to a committee in the House of Lords. He stated that many British homes are “under-occupied” and could be better used by younger families with children.

He went on to say that the Government will aim to persuade UK housebuilders to build more developments suitable for OAPs, freeing up space in their existing homes, which in turn would open up more homes for first and second-time buyers.

So why is this an issue?

The fundamental problem of the Sale housing ‘crisis’, is the point that the supply of Sale homes has not historically met demand, thus increasing property values (and in turn rents), consequently ensuring home ownership becomes an unattainable ambition for the twenty something’s of Sale.

Call me a pragmatist, but it’s understandable that either demand needs to drop or supply needs to rise to stop this trend getting worse for the generations to come.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire Westminster’s plans to help first-time buyers with their ‘First Homes’ initiative to increase the supply of new homes being built just for first-time buyers. Yet it’s targeted to deliver only 1,500 homes in around 100 locations in the next two years.

To give you an idea of how this a drop in the ocean the Government sponsored the independent Barker Review of Housing Supply Report in 2004, which was tasked at looking at what could be done to level the playing field regarding the housing needs for the UK. The report found that the UK needed 240,000 homes to be built each year just to meet the demand of a growing and aging population. Since 2000, the average number of properties built in the UK each year has only been 177,975 per year. This means we have been around 62,000 homes short per year. Therefore, after 20 years of this annual shortfall we, as a country, have 1,240,500 too few homes – hence the massive uplift in house prices over the last two decades.

Therefore, one option that could resolve the housing crisis is if the Government literally looked closer to home, concentrating on matching households with the appropriately sized home … and this is what the government have shone a light on … people with too many spare bedrooms.

Is having a spare bedroom something that in this day and age is particularly wasteful? Well, let’s look at the numbers for Sale.

21,392 Sale homes have one spare bedroom.

Well, everyone in my opinion needs a spare bedroom, especially in the light of lockdown where many of us needed to work from home.

Ok, let’s see who has two or more spare bedrooms.

Of the 58,110 households in Sale 19,787 have two or more spare bedrooms!

Of all the homes in Sale, be they owned, privately rented or council house, 34.1% of Sale homes have two or more spare bedrooms, compared to the national average 45.2%.

Breaking it down by ownership/tenure –

Of the 32,580 owned houses in Sale, 15,279 have two or more spare bedrooms or as expressed as a percentage,

46.9% of Sale owned homes have 2 or more spare bedrooms (compared to the national average of 53.9%).

Of the 17,431 council houses in Sale, 3,196 have two or more spare bedrooms, or as expressed as a percentage,

18.3% of Sale council homes have 2 or more spare bedrooms (compared to the national average of 11.6%).

Of the 8,099 private rented houses in Sale, 1,312 have two or more spare bedrooms or as expressed as a percentage,

16.2% of Sale private rented homes have 2 or more spare bedrooms (compared to the national average of 19.4%).

You can see there is the spare capacity in the Sale housing market.

The Government hit the social housing sector with their ‘Bedroom tax’ in 2012, (also known as under occupancy charge or spare room subsidy) which meant that in council homes you would receive less in Housing Benefit or Housing Costs Element in a Universal Credit claim if you lived in a housing association or council property and were deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.

Now it seems the Government have concentrated on the group that makes up the bulk of homeowners with spare bedrooms, the older owner occupiers of large properties, in their 60’s and 70’s, where the kids have flown the nest.

However, there are many explanations why these mature homeowners do not downsize. These people have lived in the same house for 30, 40 even 50 years, and as one matures in life, many people do not want to depart from what they see as the family home. Much time has been invested in making friends in their neighbourhood and it’s nice to have all those rooms in case every grandchild decided to visit, at the same time, and they brought their friends!

But is that a selfish point of view? Are we addicted to our spare bedrooms?

Or should the Government keep its nose out of where people live?

I would ask if the ‘Minister of Superfluously Sizeable Houses’ should be kicking you out of the Sale home you worked for and have spent much of your life in? And why is it assumed that retired homeowners want to downsize to small little bungalows and apartments? Many love their spacious living rooms and kitchens (which are typically found in bigger houses).

This Government is in a muddle about housing policy.

On one side of the coin, the Government announced an increase in the tax burden on the British public with a rise to its highest level since the early 1950’s to pay for care and the NHS, yet on the other side of the coin, recently cancelling vote losing policies, so that mature people going into care do not need to sell their homes (which, if you think about it, they won’t live in anyway because they are going to long-term care). Whilst at the same time, to muddy the waters, they are suggesting to mature homeowners they have to move out of those same large homes to free it up for younger families?  If the Government don’t know what the answer is, who does?

The subject of downsizing is a delicate one to unravel.

We all know mature homeowners and know that if they moved to a smaller Sale home they would lose all the space they take for granted and would be unable to have the grandchildren over. Remaining in your large Sale home is not greedy, it’s just the accepted human longing to enjoy a life after 50 plus years of working and paying your dues and taxes. You could say move to a managed retirement home? Yet many are very small and quite expensive.

I have spoken in previous articles in my blog on the Sale property market that there aren’t enough bungalows being built either. And anyway, why should you have to relocate and wave goodbye to all your neighbours who have become friends and provide a support network?

There is a case made by some that mature downsizers could be given stamp duty tax breaks to get them to downsize, yet I am not sure how this could be policed, and it doesn’t solve the problem of increasing the overall supply of property in the UK.

The real issue isn’t spare bedrooms, it’s the need to change the planning rules to increase the number and type of new homes being built that will satisfy these mature homeowners with excess spare bedrooms to move into.

Big national builders have exploited ham-fisted planning rules since the 1980s, but no political party seems to have the answer. Housing Minister Chris Pincher might say he wants to persuade builders to build more suitable homes for mature people, yet his Government’s actions don’t seem to match his words.

In the Queen’s Speech this spring, the Government announced a proposed new planning system, which would create “simpler, faster procedures for producing local development plans, approving major schemes, assessing environmental impacts and negotiating affordable housing and infrastructure contributions”, or in layman’s terms, allowing more building to take place.

However, word coming out of Government is those plans could be cancelled following the Conservatives’ surprise defeat in the Chesham & Amersham by-election to the Liberal Democrats in the summer, which was blamed by some Conservative MPs on the new proposed planning laws.

So, whilst the Government decide what to do, what can mature Sale homeowners do if they feel they do want to downsize?

The biggest fear many mature Sale homeowners have is they will sell their large Sale home but be unable to find anything to buy – thus making themselves homeless.

In this current Sale housing market, the issue isn’t selling your Sale home, but ensuring you find the right home to move into. Feel free to drop me a line to discuss how we can potentially sell your own Sale property, tell the buyer to wait, then we will go and find a home for you to move into in your chosen area of Sale.

Of course, all this takes time and patience, yet this is what old school estate agents did before the internet and the property portals. There is no extra charge for this and even if we find you a buyer, and for whatever reason the move doesn’t go ahead, there will be no charge.

If you are a Sale homeowner or Sale landlord and think this may affect you – feel free to drop me a line.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts about excess ‘spare bedrooms’? Let me know in the comments.