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Should you sell or should you buy in this most interesting Luton property market?
I have calculated that at least 135 Luton house sellers have rented a home to break their house chain in the last 12 months, although at a cost as they face paying many thousands of pounds in rent.
There are a number of reasons behind this. One is because they cannot find another Luton property to buy amidst a continuing shortage of new Luton properties coming to the market. Although, there are others who have achieved such a high price for their home they have decided to cash in and are (hopefully for them) waiting for the Luton property market drop?
Or will it drop? (More on that later).
Those selling their home have seen the…
average Luton home rise in value in the
last 12 months by £5,600.
Yet, if they have had to go into private renting, they have paid for that privilege in the rent they have had to pay.
The average cost of a six-month rental agreement in Luton is £4,667, meaning accidental Luton tenants have pumped £630,000 into the Luton rental market in the last 12 months.
The unevenness between the number of properties for sale and demand for them is at its widest since the early 2000’s. Whilst we have seen a slight improvement in the number of properties for sale in Luton, there are still…
30% fewer homes up for sale today in Luton,
compared to August last year.
This serious shortage of Luton property for sale is discouraging some hesitant Luton homeowners from putting their property on to the housing market, anxious they will not be able to find their next home and will be left renting.
Yet some savvy Luton homeowners are moving into a rented property as a way to navigate the shortage of properties to buy. If you have someone offering you top dollar for your Luton home, whilst you will have the hassle of two moves, the increase in value of your Luton home will more than offset the rent.
Also, when you come to buy your next Luton home, you will be chain free and in pole position to buy your ‘forever home’, rather than being overlooked for the home because you are sold stc and burdened with a chain.
Yet this trend has made life tougher for long-term Luton tenants.
On average there were normally 650 to 800 properties available to rent in Luton on Rightmove at any one time (pre-pandemic), today there are only 340 available.
To give you an idea of how this has affected the Luton rental market, with heightened demand and lower supply, demand for rental properties has grown to such an extent…
the average rent in Luton has grown from £778 per month a
year ago to £854 per month today.
Tenants are suffering from less choice and higher rents in the Luton property rental market, with few indications it’s going to significantly ease on the run up to Christmas.
So, what is going to happen to the Luton property market?
Well, those of you that follow me know I regularly write about the Luton property market in my property blog. If you would like some recent articles I have written about the future of the local property, either drop me a line and I will send you some links to those posts, send me a DM or contact me by telephone.
In the meantime, please do share your thoughts on the matter in the comments.
Author: Taylor Kay
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Whether you are a Luton homeowner, first-time buyer or landlord; the last 15 months has been a roller coaster ride when it comes to the Luton property market.
With 213,120 UK house buyers and 58,580 UK tenants moving home in June, the summer has been manic for many people. Meaning some Luton homeowners are asking if they should be staying put? Or should they wait for the best home to come onto the market before putting their home up for sale or find a buyer but be unable to find a property – it’s all rather confusing.
Then we have some Luton landlords who are asking themselves if they should buy another property investment (and some even wondering if they should sell and cash in on the boom) and then finally, with 95% mortgages back, first-time buyers are asking if they should look to take the plunge and buy their first home or wait.
In this article, I hope I can help you with the decisions you might want to make and to navigate this unusual post lockdown housing market. Let me start with some stats to show you what is happening at the moment in Luton.
The average time it takes to sell a Luton property in
this housing market is 26 days.
Interesting when compared with nearby Dunstable at 22 days, Houghton Regis at 23 days, Harpenden at 43 days and Redbourne at 33 days.
Look back five years, it took 63 days on average to sell a Luton home – the local property market is now certainly ‘cooking on gas’!
The property market has certainly solidified a little over the last few weeks. The Stamp Duty holiday rush has seen its run and the pent-up post-Brexit and more importantly post-lockdown demand has receded and although I am still observing competing offers on most Luton properties, I can certainly get a feeling of a small shift in the balance-of-power between the seller and buyer.
Many people have put their house hunting on hold as they go on their first holiday since 2019, be that glamping in Cornwall or having days out on a ‘staycation’. That means between now and mid-September, depending on what type of property you are looking for, many buyers could well discover that there are fewer competitors for their next home than there might be.
Also, July and August are notoriously barren months for estate agents putting new properties up for sale. Yet since the typical ‘seasonal property market’ is so out of kilter as a result of the pandemic, many agents are taking on a decent number of very good properties now, which is not something that characteristically would have happened in the summer months.
The important thing is not to wait for the property to hit the portals (i.e. Rightmove etc). Yet research shows, nearly 5 out of 6 people who bought their home were not on the agents mailing list before they viewed the home they eventually bought. That’s OK in a normal property market as you can wait until it hits Rightmove or Zoopla, yet these are unprecedented times and if you are not on an agent’s mailing list – you will miss out on properties.
If you don’t put yourself on the agent’s mailing lists, you will
end up losing out on the property of your dreams.
So, the question is should you put your Luton home on the market first or wait for the right property to come along?
Roll the clock back a few years and it was standard practice for people to wait for their dream home to come onto the market, then put theirs on and hope that it would sell in time. This housing market is different and only those who are in a position to proceed (cash buyers or those sold subject to contract) will be considered as serious buyers.
Yet, nobody wants to be homeless if they do sell.
Estate agents are returning back to their old skills from the 1980s and 1990s by chain building. By starting at the bottom of the chain of the smaller house and building up a chain, waiting for everybody to find their next homes, nobody need be made homeless.
This is not an issue because most house sales are taking on average between 20 and 25 weeks and as long as everybody communicates with each other and everyone knows where they are, then normally things go through, albeit slower. Can you believe it – estate agents really are earning their money with this!
So what Luton homes are selling the fastest?
Luton Terraced and Town Houses are selling in 22 days
Luton Semi-Det Houses are selling in 24 days
Luton Detached Houses are selling in 24 days
Luton Apartments are selling in 40 days
Luton landlords, maybe there are some bargains to be had on some apartments with that length of time on the market? Again, do your homework or even consider picking up the phone to me for a chat.
So, there you have it. The lessons I hope you have now learnt from this are to put yourself on agent’s mailing lists, talk to agents about your requirements so you get the heads up first when a property is coming on to the market (don’t just do everything over a computer screen) and once you have found a property be a little bit more patient with how long it takes to build a chain and then get the property through to an exchange and completion so you get the keys to your forever home.
Whether you are a Luton homeowner, Luton landlord or first-time buyer and would like some advice and opinion on your circumstances in the current Luton property market, please don’t hesitate to either pick up the phone or drop me a message.
To everyone else, what are your thoughts on the Luton property market?
Author: Taylor Kay
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The bungalow is a building that has represented a more leisurely, gentler way of life since the early 1900’s. Bungalows have been sold as an aspiration for those about to retire, saving them the annoyance of having to climb stairs. With an ageing population, one would think they would be building more bungalows, yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this could be one of the main issues that is holding back many mature homeowners moving home thus creating a bottleneck in the Luton property market for the younger families who are being held back and unable to move into the larger homes they so need to grow their families.
So, before I answer that question, let me share this fascinating fact about bungalows. The word ‘bungalow’ originated in India, not the UK. The name is derived from the Hindi word ‘baṅglā’ or the Gujarati word ‘baṅglo’, both of which seem to refer to a home occupied by a Bengali person. The colonial English started to use it for themselves in the late 1600s to describe the same sort of basic lodgings that sailors and staff of the invading East India Company used.
Anyway, back to the here and now in Luton.
There are 3,529 bungalows in Luton.
When you consider there are 77,462 properties in Luton, that means only 4.56% of property in Luton are bungalows.
To give you an idea of the age demographic of Luton homeowners, there are 19,664 Luton homeowners aged 65 years old (and over) and 23,508 Luton homeowners aged between 50 and 64 years of age.
You can see demand for bungalows is only expected to grow. Yet new homes builders are having to deal with soaring land prices, meaning to get a profit from the site they are under pressure to build more vertically than horizontally as with bungalows (as bungalows take up so much more land).
The last available data is from 2018 and only 1.6% new builds in the UK were bungalows, interesting when it was just over 7% in the middle of the 1990s. As British people are living longer, those existing Luton bungalow homeowners will be living in them longer, thus creating even more of a bottleneck in the Luton property market.
So, what is the answer?
Well with building land in Luton at a shortage, maybe new homes builders should be forced under planning rules to reserve ground floor apartments to be set aside for older people to encourage them to move out of larger houses. I would challenge the long-held point of view that building more bungalows in Luton is the pre-eminent way to urge growing numbers of mature ‘last-time buyers’ to move out of their under-occupied Luton homes and free up their large homes (where their children have flown the nest) for younger Luton families to grow.
With the new Planning Regulations due to be in place in a couple of years, local authorities could require builders to set aside a share of homes for mature residents, as they are already obligated to subsidise local community facilities or low-cost social housing in return for obtaining their planning permission to build in the first place.
Another option would be to convert all those empty shops in our town and city centres up and down the country into residential use. There is no need for planning permission to change offices to residential property and the Government are considering the same for shops (although I have heard of some horror stories of those office to residential developments making rabbit hutches look spacious) – so again, it comes down to the planning laws and making them fit for purpose.
There are no doubt consequences of not designing our housing stock for the 21st Century and beyond for older people.
The population of Luton is set to grow
by 39,806 to 249,311 by 2040.
As the UK population gets older in the coming decades, as life expectancy is set to grow from 81 years 2 months to 83 years 3 months by 2040, I fully appreciate the need for more Luton homes to be built for families, yet one must ask if the planning authorities are focusing too much on new housing for the younger generation, when they in fact should be encouraging new homes builders to develop larger, ground floor two-bedroom homes and decent accessible transport links.
These are my thoughts, what are yours the good people of Luton?
Author: Taylor Kay
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The Semi-Detached House – the icon of middle-class aspiration, the pinnacle of liberalism yet at the same time compromised individuality, the ‘semi’ as it is colloquially termed is, for many Luton homeowners, the highpoint of modern domestic bliss.
Britain’s gift to architecture is the humble ‘Semi-Detached House’. This type of property has been exported around the world with - the ‘Doppel Haus’ in Germany, the ‘Duplex’ in the USA, Canada and Australia.
For those young, hip and trendy people living in your converted warehouses with strobe lighting and exposed brickwork, it might surprise you the semi is the dream home of an immense number of Luton people. In fact, it is the most common dwelling type in the British Isles, with 8,060,657 semi-detached homes occupied by Brits alone (representing 31.68% of all occupied property) compared to 23.81% detached, 25.49% terraced and 19.02% flats.
In Luton alone, there are 32,683 semi-detached houses meaning …
42.7% of properties in Luton are semi-detached.
So, when did the semi-detached house first come into play? Many people think the semi-detached boom started with mass swathes of the suburban mock Tudor bay fronted semis being built between the first and second world wars. The fact is that it was actually rich landowners in the post Great Plague (1665+) years wished to house their farm labourers as inexpensively as possible, yet making their grand estates look as imposing as possible.
And that’s the point of a semi-detached house. Only half the property is yours, yet you ‘feel’ like you own it all.
The next phase of the semi-detached story, and a phase that really pushed home the point, were many of the late Georgian houses built around the Kensington Gardens area in West London. Many upper-middle class Georgians were wanting something more than the classic Georgian terraced house yet couldn’t afford a large detached home. Therefore, architects took the humble semi-detached house to the next stage of its evolution by masquerading the building itself as one home by slipping its two front doors down opposite sides of the building, making it look like one home from the front, to complete the impression of total ownership.
By Victorian times, semi-detached houses fell out fashion as the railways were building many of them for their railway workers and they became associated with the lower working classes but speculative builders continued building semi-detached homes for the new lower middle class, that is the reason why ultimately the country is full of semi-detached homes today.
The semi-detached house was saved from the annals of history by the Bedford Park development in Ealing (London). Referred to as the world's first ‘garden suburb’ and started in the 1870’s, the architect of Bedford Park used influences of the ‘Aesthetic Movement’, the precursor to the ‘Arts and Craft Movement’ to make the buildings look more pleasing on the eye. The architect also took reference from the style of properties from British history such as Queen Ann to be seen in such features as a sweep of steps leading to a carved stone door, rows of painted sash windows in boxes set flush with the brickwork and bright coloured brickwork with limestone stone quoins emphasising the building’s corner.
As the car enabled people to commute to work from further away, people wanted to get out of the big cities, thus giving rise to the interwar semi, with its mock Tudor fronted, rosemary tiled roof, oak beamed, herringbone brickwork and the leaded and stained glass windowpanes that we all recognise. It was Bedford Park that gave the green light for architects up and down the country to use old styles of building design to make their semi-detached houses look the part.
And now, in more modern times, the semi-detached house has gone from strength to strength.
19,617 of Luton semi-detached houses have changed hands since 1995, many upwards of 5 times (and a handful even more).
The semi continues to appeal, both to big national builders and smaller Luton developers, and most importantly to home buyers. The advantage of semi-detached houses over town houses/terraced houses or apartments is they afford access to their (typically bigger) gardens without having to pass through the house, and they have natural sunlight on three sides of the property, are easily extendable and quite often have a driveway.
And that’s at the heart of what a semi-detached house is all about, the schism or divide of the semi reveals the tension at the heart of owning your home, which on one side of the coin is a commodity/way to make money and on the other side, a vision to have your own castle, a piece of ground to call your own. It articulates both the craving for personal freedom and the inevitability of socio-economic life. What do I mean by that?
We may dream of owning a castle in many acres, with a drawbridge and moat, yet real life means we can only afford half a building plot sliced out by a volume national builder next to the A6.
I just love a semi-detached house! Style and substance combined.
What are your thoughts? Share your stories and opinions on the humble semi-detached house.
Author: Taylor Kay
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as 266.6% more people sell in June compared to
the Luton area 10-year average
June 2021 was the busiest month ever for UK estate agents, home removal companies and conveyancers since monthly records began, as HMRC logged 213,120 residential transactions in June, a jump of more than 216% nationally on the same month last year (when the housing market had just reopened after the initial lockdown).
The cause of this was all the homebuyers trying to complete their property purchases before the approaching Stamp Duty Holiday deadline finished at the end of June. This was important as house buyers had until 30th June to complete their sale to save up to £15,000 in Stamp Duty Tax.
Many property market commentators believed the property market would slump after the Stamp Duty Holiday finished. Yet, I haven’t observed many property sales falling through or renegotiations because the buyer had to pay the extra Stamp Duty, and talking to other property professionals around the UK, neither have they.
Let’s not forget that the Stamp Duty Holiday isn't totally over as it is a tapering off until 30th September. This means homes and apartments sold under £250,000 will still profit from the Stamp Duty Holiday.
So, what sort of property transaction numbers are we talking about here in Luton?
An average of 97 properties a month in the Luton area have sold in the last 12 months, compared to the 10-year rolling average of 180 properties sold per month.
The best month ever before this June was March 2016, when there was a rush by Luton buy-to-let landlords to secure a property before the introduction of a 3% Stamp Duty surcharge for second homes. In March 2016, 530 Luton properties changed hands.
My calculations show 659 Luton households sold in June 2021, 266.6% more than the long-term average.
So, what has driven this? The Stamp Duty changes caused some Luton people to bring their home moves forward from 2022/3 to take advantage of the tax savings. Yet the most significant thing, talking to many Luton homebuyers and sellers, is the pandemic has changed the way people live. Working from home and needing additional office space has meant many Luton families (and others from out of the area) are seeking larger properties with more extensive gardens and better access to the countryside. I really can't see this social trend changing for a long time. I believe this means Luton property prices in the medium term will not be markedly different over the next couple of years yet…
don't be alarmed to see volatile short-term changes in the run-up to Christmas (both up and down) with Luton house prices.
I have always been a believer in the medium-term (i.e. over a couple of years) house price trends instead of the monthly trends, which can sometimes be like a yo-yo. I have always said the best bellwether to the health of the Luton property market is the number of property transactions rather than the house prices.
Finally, I can only see this continuing as Banks scrabble to give money away in the form of cheap mortgages. A few weeks HSBC and TSB launched a 0.94% two-year fixed rate deal for those wishing to borrow 60% or less. More recently, the Nationwide Building Society launched a 0.99% five-year fixed-rate mortgage deal (again on a maximum of 60% loan to value basis).
If you would like a chat about the Luton property market, your options and where you stand in the Luton property market – please do not hesitate to give me a call.
In the meantime, I would love your thoughts on this.
Has the pandemic made you move home earlier?
What do you think will happen in the coming years to property in Luton? Share your views.
Author: Taylor Kay