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One of my Luton landlords contacted me last week from Breachwood Green, after he had spoken to a landlord friend of his from Chalton. He told me they were deliberating the Luton property market and neither of them could make their mind up if it was time to either sell or buy property following Covid-19. His friend said he would wait to see what would happen to property prices following Covid-19, yet my landlord wanted to pick my brain in order to help him decide what to do.

 

I said the press are aware bad news sells newspapers and the doom mongers are plying their trade on uncertainty in the world economic situation. Roll the clock back to the Credit Crunch of 2008/9, and there were quite a few landlords in Luton who had overexposed themselves with high percentage loan to value buy to let mortgages, backing the hope they would make their money on the capital growth, yet fell foul of a drop in rents and thus got bankrupted (but who could blame them when the property market was rising at 15% to 20% a year in the early 2000’s and banks like Northern Rock were giving mortgages out to anyone with a pulse and note from their Mum).

 

Thankfully the Bank of England changed the rules on all mortgages in 2014 banning self-certification mortgages, tightening the rules around interest-only mortgages and the requirement around affordability to be checked, plus a tough stress test if interest rates rose. It’s obvious we are going to enter into a recession because of Covid-19, yet this time the Luton property market is better placed to weather the storm.

 

However, gone are the days when you could buy any old house in Luton and it would make money. Yes, in the past, anything in Luton that had four walls and a roof would make you money because since World War 2, property prices doubled every seven years … it was like having a free cash machine.

 

If a landlord bought a Luton terraced / town house in the summer of 2000, he or she would have seen a profit of £136,200 to its current value of £205,400, a rise of 196.9%

 

Nonetheless, if that landlord had bought the same property in 2010, the Luton landlord would have only made £51,900 profit (a 33.8% increase). Yet since 2010, the country has experienced 31.5% inflation, meaning our Luton landlord has seen the ‘real’ value of their Luton property increase by only 2.3% (i.e. 33.8% less 31.5% inflation).

 

And this is my point. Nobody has been complaining about the property market in the last ten years, yet even after inflation, landlords are still making only the smallest of profits. If we do see a slight dip in property prices because of Covid-19 (looking at the market at the moment I haven’t seen any indication of its slowing down from its post lockdown takeoff), but if we do, Luton landlords need to realise property values aren’t the only indicator of whether the property market is good or not.

 

The reality is, since around the early 2000’s we haven’t seen anything like the capital growth in property we have seen in the past and it’s not predicted to grow at the rates it has previously done either. So, I believe it is high time for any Luton landlord, pondering investing in Luton property to stop believing the hype and do some serious research using independent investment expertise. You can still make money by buying the right Luton property at the right price and finding the right tenant.

 

Think about it, properties in real terms are only 2.3% higher than a decade ago, so investing in Luton property is not only about capital growth, but also about the yield (the return from the rent). It’s also about having a balanced property portfolio that will match what you want from your investment – and what is a ‘balanced property portfolio’? Well we discuss such matters on the Luton Property Blog ... if you haven’t seen the articles, then it might be worth a few minutes of your time? 

…. and should Luton landlords & Luton homeowners be worried?

 

In 2019, the private rented sector accounted for just over four and a half million households or 19.9% of UK households, no change from the year before. Interesting, when compared to the proportion of private rented households in the 1980’s and 1990’s, when the proportion of private rented households was stable at around 9.5% to 10.8%.

 

Most of that growth in the private rented sector came in three main spurts. The first growth spurt was between 1999 and 2003 and that was caused when property values were increasing at 20% per annum, the second came from the migration of 1.69m people from the EU8 countries after 2004 and the final growth spurt came about because of the property crash of 2008/9. When I look at the local stats…

 

8.2% of Luton properties in 1991 were privately rented,

whilst the most recent stats stand at 22.2%

 

Apart from social housing, the other pillar of home tenure is owner occupation. Owner occupation is made up of two separate groups: outright owners and those who own their home yet are buying the property with a mortgage.

 

In 1991, 19.9% of Luton households owned their property outright and 54.2% of Luton households were buying with a mortgage, whilst current stats show 25.6% of Luton households are outright owners and only 35.5% are buying their Luton home with a mortgage

Looking at these numbers, two things are clear-

  1. The increase in the proportion and number of Luton outright owners is at least somewhat caused by Luton’s baby-boomer population retiring, being able to pay off their mortgages and thus going into outright homeownership.
  2. Overall homeownership is down. These figures will be of no surprise to many readers with heightened barriers to home ownership, as saving for the deposit became the prevailing hurdle to getting on the housing ladder together with a substantial increase in the amount of private rented accommodation, provided by an ostensibly ever-growing cohort of buy to let investors.

So, on the face of it, everything looks rosy for Luton buy to let landlords with the private rented sector growing ever upwards.

This is not the case though, because these stats on private rented and homeownership on Luton are from the last census. However, the Government have a number of in-depth annual surveys on the property market and since 2016, the proportion of privately rented properties has remained stagnant at between 19% and 20%. Also, over the same time frame, the proportion of homebuyers with a mortgage has increased quite considerably from 30.7% of all households nationally to 35.5% last year. This increase is mainly attributed to an increase in first time buyers.

So, why have we seen an increase in the number of first time buyers?

 

Firstly, the government introduced their Help to Buy Scheme in 2013 helping first time buyers get on the property ladder with interest free loans and mortgage guarantees. Secondly, the wide availability of 95% mortgages since the mid 2010’s (meaning first time buyers only need to find a 5% deposit), and finally the continued increasing reliance of deposits from the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ have helped to support this growth.

 

Interestingly, age is an important factor in these stats, as it’s the 25 to 35-year olds that have seen the biggest increase in home ownership, yet it’s decreased for those in the 35 to 45-year old bracket.

 

So, what does all this mean for Luton landlords and Luton homeowners?

 

In the next six months, I believe the growth in first time buyer numbers will ease slightly. The pent-up demand of the Boris Bounce in January and February has now been released, and whilst the early signs are very good, we are still to see the effects of the curtailing of the furlough scheme on the people’s ability to move home.

 

Many doom-mongers were predicting the banks would remove 95% mortgages after Covid-19, yet looking on a well-known comparison website, at the time of writing, there were 183 ‘95% mortgages’ available to first time buyers, with eye watering low rates of 1.53% with the Halifax on a 2 year fixed rate and 5 year fixed rate with the Skipton at 1.83%. The Bank of Mum and Dad might be a tougher nut to crack for first time buyers’ deposits - the fall in the FTSE and the repercussions this will certainly have on older households’ pensions income may restrict its availability.

 

This means even though the Luton property market is doing reasonably well, Luton homeowners wanting to sell shouldn’t get carried away and ‘over-egg’ their asking prices. The information available today at all buyers’ fingertips means your property can so easily be overlooked as being overpriced, and thus become ignored.

 

My advice to Luton landlords is, even though the proportion of private rented properties isn’t growing, in real numbers it is, as we created 230,000 residential homes in the country last year alone, so we aren’t seeing a mass exodus out of private renting.

 

Yet, now might be the time to consider spending money on upgrading what you already own instead of buying another property. Depending on the type and location of your Luton rental property, the return on investment of certain upgrades can be in the order of 20% to 30% per annum. Don’t fall for the trap many Luton landlords fall into and upgrade without speaking to a property professional. Whether you are a client or not, I am always here at the end of the phone to give you my advice and opinion.

 

Please do let me have your thoughts on the matter – thank you in advance.

Should you wait to buy your first home in Luton or buy now? What sort of mortgages are available? What sort of deposit is required? These are questions all Luton buyers are asking at the moment, yet this week I would like to focus on Luton first time buyers and what it means directly and indirectly to Luton homeowners looking to move up the Luton property ladder and Luton buy to let landlords.

  

Well quite frankly, to answer that question it’s contingent on what Luton property you are looking to move into and even more significantly, how long you are hoping to live in that property.

 

We have many armchair economists and even professional economists predicting Armageddon when it comes to the property market, yet the Luton (and UK) property market is essentially very sound. Don’t forget the Chancellor himself, George Osborne warned that if we voted to leave the EU two things would happen. Firstly, the UK property market would crash and property values would drop by 18% in the two years after the vote. Secondly, there would be an ‘economic shock’ to the country’s economy that would increase the cost of mortgages (through increased interest rates as there would be a run on the Pound). UK GDP rose by £132bn in the two years after the referendum and interest rates actually dropped locally, with regard to property values …

 

Luton house prices rose by 9.8% in the 2 years

following the Brexit vote

 

Lloyds have predicted an enormous 30% fall in property prices over the next 36 months whilst Savills have suggested a short dip of 5% during the summer, based on very low transactions numbers, with property prices bouncing back to be just over 15% higher in 5 years’ time. This assumes that the UK plc economic downturn is short & sharp, and that no substantial gap opens up between supply and demand in the property market (i.e. everyone doesn’t dump their property market all at the same time).

 

Luton Property Values after the 2008 Credit Crunch crisis plummeted 13% between 2008 and the end of 2009.

 

Yet, the circumstances of the 2008/9 property crash were fundamentally different to today. Many ‘armchair economists’ assume there will be a re-run of the 2008/9 and 1988 property crashes in the coming 12 months in terms of house value falls. Yet, dissimilar to the last recession, this dip has not been led by previous years of strong property price growth like the other two crashes. House prices in many parts of the UK have been down in the last 12 months.

 

You would think Luton first-time buyers who have already saved their deposit could grab a bargain in the coming months, you would believe they would have less competition in the market because of landlords holding back buying additional rental properties. This is because of the press speculation that rent arrears are sky high from tenants who are unable to pay their rent. Yet evidence from many professional bodies in the private rental sector state rent arrears across the whole of the Country are appearing to be very low indeed, despite Covid-19. 

Interestingly, the firm Yomdel who handles ‘web live chat’ and ‘phone support’ for thousands of estate and letting agents have reported national activity is higher than the two months of the Boris Bounce (in January and February 2020). The number of new buyer enquiries for the last two weeks is double (108.9% higher to be precise) than the 2019 yearly rolling average. New landlord enquiries are 32.1% higher than the 2019 average and tenants are 150.1% higher than the 2019 average ... these are all great signs and go against the doom monger economists.

 

My best advice to all Luton property buyers is, be they second time buyers, first time buyers, landlords … whatever number buyers, they should buy with a medium-term view of future Luton property values, instead of an expectation of always looking to making a quick few pounds flipping a property (i.e. selling it quickly).

 

Let’s not forget that mortgage interest rates are another important factor: they are at a 325-year low, so borrowing money has never been so inexpensive. If you know you are going to be living in your first (or second) Luton home for five years and you want the peace of mind of knowing precisely what your mortgage payments will be, then it’s very attractive. At the time of writing, Barclays are offering any first-time buyer a 95% mortgage on a 5-year fixed rate of 2.95%. The average value of an average terraced house in Luton is £231,800 and so with the 5% deposit of £11,000 on a 35-year term the …

 

Mortgage payments on a typical Luton terraced house would only be £844 per month (i.e. much cheaper than renting)

 

Many lenders are lending money even if you are on furlough, yet you may find you won’t be able to borrow as much pre Covid-19. Interestingly, some mortgage companies will even take into account total income, where your employer is topping up the Government’s furloughed amount, whilst other lenders will consider mortgage applications on a case-by-case basis. The best advice I can give is, don’t assume what you can or can’t borrow. Speak to a whole of market mortgage broker, to see what is possible – not what your friend on Facebook tells you, what you can or can’t borrow.

 

You only need to put down a 5% deposit

for the property you would like to buy

 

If you think about it, it’s inconsequential if Luton property values drop or not, or if they do drop whether they bounce back quickly (or not as the case maybe) because it’s impossible to know the bottom of the property market. I would say if you find the right Luton property for you, at the price that feels right, that will be your home together and you are going live in that Luton property for the next five to ten years, it’s not a bad time to be buying. It is like waiting for the next piece of tech – there will always be a better model or an assumed better time. We are talking about your home here – a home for you and your partner and family, be that your kids, dog, cat, pet or favourite pot plant because …

 

Spending money on rent is all wasted money – at least when you buy your own home, you start to pay your mortgage off from day 1

 

So many first-time buyers use the Bank of Mum and Dad to help with their deposit, yet I have spoken to many parents who wouldn’t want to interfere in their mature children’s life and subsidise day to day expenditure, yet are embarrassed to offer their help with the deposit. If you don’t ask …you don’t get!

New Electrical Safety Regulations could cost each Luton Landlord £350+ in the next 13 months

 

Luton Electricians are going to very busy in the next 13 months as they will have to test the electrics of every private rented property in Luton and potentially may have to install new fuse boards and wiring in some circumstances.

 

New regulations set out in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 gave the Secretary of State of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government the authority to compel private landlords to test their fixed electrical systems.  Currently, these responsibilities only apply to licensable Houses of Multiple Occupancy (where a house is split into individual rooms) yet these new rules will come into force for any new tenancy or renewal of any private rented home from the 1st July this year (2020).

 

All new tenancies from the 1st July 2020 will need

to have had their electrics tested

 

The new IET electrical regulations enforce a duty on all private landlords to ensure that their electrical installation complies with the 18th edition (from 2018) of the IET wiring regulations.  Therefore, any property built before the middle of 2018 will have electrics to 17th edition regulations (or a previous edition).  It might not sound a lot, but the 18th edition regulations were a substantial update over the 17th edition which were published in 2008.  Now, just because a rental property was built with its electrics up to the prevailing 15th, 16th or 17th regulations at the time of building, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will automatically fail this test.

 

A qualified electrician will need to test your rental property against the new 18th Regulations (as that is standard practice in the industry), which will cost in the region of £150 plus VAT for a small one bed flat through to £250/£350 plus VAT for a large 4 or 5 bed house (again these are ballpark figures).  The Electrician won’t fail a property who complies with a previous regulation (e.g. 16th or 17th) unless there is a good reason to do so.  No doubt there will be further clarification notes issued before the implementation date to sort this out – and I will keep you informed in this blog.

Electricians are telling me any property built after 16th Regulations came into force in 1991 (and they deem it to have failed the test) will probably require a new fuse board and other minor works at an average cost of around £355 per property, although it could be as low as £300 and up to £500 per property to upgrade, meaning…

The potential cost of upgrading every Luton buy to let

Home to 18th edition regulations (if they all failed) could total £6,107,065

Some Luton landlords might think they can circumnavigate the regulations by renewing the fixed term every 6 months, yet the Government have  protected against that by stating,  irrespective of what tenancy is in place, all rental properties by the 1st April 2021 must have been tested against  the 18th Regulations standard.

My concern is all 17,203 rental properties in Luton will need

their electrics testing before the Spring of 2021 and that there are only 60 qualified electrician firms within a 2-mile radius of Luton to do all these tests and work

Luton landlords must give any new Luton tenant a copy of the inspection report before they start the tenancy.  Also, Luton landlords must give a copy of the report to any prospective tenant who asks for it in writing within 28 days of a request during the tenancy itself.  

Even with the coronavirus situation, only last week the Government indicated that Landlords should still make every effort to follow these new electrical safety regulations from the 1st of July, yet those same regulations also allow for situations where a landlord cannot carry out their obligations. To stay the right side of the law, they must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law. If they do that, they will not in breach of the new regulations (including the duty to comply with a remedial notice). My advice would be if a landlord could keep copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with electricians as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had, together with any other evidence they have on the electrics of their rental property.

The local authorities are tasked with policing this – and they too have the right to request to see copies of any Electrical Report and works done.  They can force a landlord to comply with the legislation and also may issue a civil penalty up to a maximum of £30,000.

Remarkably, if the letting/managing agent doesn’t organise the Electrical reports, there is nothing in the legislation which allows a landlord to pass the blame onto their letting/managing agent.  That means Luton landlords could be at significant risk from dishonest or badly organised letting agents who won’t/don’t sort the electrics out, so my advice to all Luton landlords is to speak to your letting/managing agent right now and plan ahead.  Rest assured, we have had plans well in hand for our Luton landlords since last year, because I knew this legislation was on its way.

The regulations are obviously important for the safety of tenants and, in essence, these new laws and regulations will mean new accountabilities for the private rented landlords with not much time in which to get prepared and be compliant.  If you are worried about these new rules or don’t have ultimate confidence in your current agent, then please do pick up the phone and let’s have an informal chat about how we can help you with this issue, you don’t want to fall the wrong side of the law do you?

What Will Be the Effect of Covid-19 on the Luton Property Market?

 

So now we are only a matter of a couple of weeks into lockdown, yet can you believe it I am still speaking with agents from all over the UK, and I do not jest, properties are still being sold and let even in these unprecedented times. Yet I would like to address the question I have been asked many times recently “What will be the effect of Covid-19 on the Luton property market in the short, medium and long term?”

 

These are obviously unchartered times, yet we can look back in history to give us clues and more recently, the bounce back that is happening in China (and their property market). The Covid-19 situation will touch all parts of the Luton and UK property market, and so in this article, I will be considering its impact on Luton property prices, transaction numbers (i.e. the number of people that move home), Luton buy to let landlords and finally tenants and the rents they pay.

 

The Three Issues with the Virus and the Property Market

 

The first issue has to be the lockdown itself. Limitations on society’s capability to go about their normal working life will hinder the house buying/selling process. The practical difficulties of moving home and expediting the property sale; from the viewing itself, the Energy Performance Certificate being carried out, the surveyor checking the property for the lender etc., are all issues. Yet the estate agency and legal industries are coming up with some innovative solutions, from virtual viewings to legally watertight delayed completions, where the old owners stay in the house under licence during the lockdown, and the move will take place after the lockdown period.

 

Secondly, the UK housing market has never liked ambiguity or uncertainty and this virus will play a part on people’s feelings and sentiment towards moving home (or not).

 

Thirdly and finally, there is the issue with the money people have, be that wages, whether they have a job (or not) and their overall affluence, on the back of the 29.4% stock market decrease in the last two months (correct at the time of writing this article).

                       

The Background Economics

 

The economy drives everything including the housing market – and the overall measure of the economy is the Gross Domestic Product figure or the GDP (the GDP is basically the total value of all the goods and services created by the whole UK economy in one year and it currently stands at £2.15 trillion).

 

Looking at what has happened in China, most economists believe the UK will experience a short, yet sharp economic shrinkage in Q2 2020 with GDP set drop by 4% to 7% in the one quarter depending on the extent of the lockdown. Then GDP is expected to level out in Q3 2020, and then a significant ricochet (how significant depends who you listen to) in Q4 2020/Q1 2021.

 

Now putting politics aside, I have been impressed with Boris Johnson’s response with wide-ranging support for the UK economy and businesses, and whilst it’s far from perfect, help has been in the guise of the Bank of England reactivating its Contingent Term Repo Facility increasing liquidity and keeping the money markets going (important as that was what the issue was with the Credit Crunch), business grants and Government backed loans, together with telling lenders to take a compassionate line to those unable to make mortgage holidays and finally the furloughing of staff, thus allowing a quicker recovery in the economy.

 

What Will Happen to Luton Property Values?

 

There are a few doom-monger economists predicting Armageddon, yet I feel a lot of that is to get column inches in the newspapers. The Luton property market is less exposed than it was in the previous four historical property crashes in 1972, 1979, 1988 and 2008. This is because of the following reasons..

 

  1. Before each of the four crashes, there had been a significant upward spike in property values prior to the crash. We have not experienced that over the last 12 months.

 

  1. Mortgage interest as a percentage of household income (nationally) was a massive 32% in 1988, 18% in 2008 – yet now it stands at just under 8% (because interest rates are so low).

 

This is all assuming we don’t have high unemployment. Yet historically, it has been proved house price falls are not caused by high unemployment. It is in fact, that it happens the other way round, that a housing downturn can (not always) create unemployment - yet with the Government furloughing people – this shouldn’t be such so much of an issue.

 

The value of an average Luton home currently stands at £272,200

 

As I will explain in the next section, the biggest effect will be on transaction numbers, not on property values. I suspect in the summer there will be some Luton homeowners who will want to sell at all costs, and not care what price they achieve. Savvy property buyers will swoop on those properties and drive a hard bargain, meaning there will be some short-term localised reductions in what properties sell in the summer for those that want to sell at any cost.

 

Yet, these reductions will artificially amplify the property value indexes in a downward direction in the autumn (the ones the newspapers mention when they talk about property value changes) because they will be based on the very low levels of property transactions that will take place in the summer (because there is always a lag). Interestingly we have seen this many times over the years because just about every spring for the last 20 years, we have often seen negative or very subdued figures in the House Price Indexes in the months of January/February. This is because of the lack of property sales on the run up to Christmas a few months before. To give this all some context, property values in Luton are 49.3% higher than 10 years ago – and nobody was complaining about those. To give you an idea what that is in pound notes …

 

The average Luton home has risen in value by £89,900 in the last 10 years

 

The swiftness of recovery in the autumn/winter from that point will depend on the state of the wider economy. With the measures (mentioned above) implemented by the Government, household incomes should continue to remain steady, and whilst holidays and luxuries may be shelved for a year, those Luton people who have been locked up in their Luton homes for weeks on end, might just consider making that move later in 2020, taking advantage of the ultra-low interest rates. This in turn ought to encourage a return to sturdier levels of house-price growth in the medium term (2021/2 onwards).

 

The Number of People Moving Home in Luton Will Significantly Drop in 2020

 

I foresee the number of people moving home (i.e. the number of household transactions) in Luton will significantly drop in 2020. This will only really affect the pockets of Estate Agents (as they charge their fee when people move – so if less people are moving, they will earn less) and the people associated with house moving.

 

Even with virtual viewings and creative legal work, the number of property transactions will be considerably obstructed over the next couple of months. Interestingly, in the Chinese cities that removed the lockdown first (in the middle of March) I have read in the press the number of property transactions has already bounced back to around half of the medium-term average after only three weeks!

 

This was caused by people delaying their move because of the ‘B’ word (Brexit) over the last 12/18 months, which interestingly saw a massive upsurge with the Boris Bounce in December/January and February.

 

Worse case scenarios suggested by economists state transactions will drop to 20% of the normal 10 year average number of transactions until the end of Q3 2020, return to 65% by Q1 2021, increase to 100% by the end of Q2 2021 and then 120% in 2022, yet most sensible economists (and often those that stay out of the limelight and don’t go chasing headlines), believe transactions will reduce to 45% to 50% of the 10 year average until the end of Q3 2020, improve to 80% in Q4 2020 and 100% by Q2 2021 with potential for higher transactions numbers in the order of 110% to 130% in 2022.

 

It all sounds rather grim doesn’t it, until you dig deeper…

 

Remarkably, it must be stated the number of property transactions over the last 12 months in Luton are only at 65.0% of the 10-year Luton average … and this was before Covid-19

 

In the last 12 months, there have been 1,448 property transactions in Luton, compared to a 10-year average of 2,229 per year

 

 

Yet, let’s not forget, these predictions are from the 10-year long term average, and as it can quite clearly be seen, transaction levels are already at a low, even without Covid-19 and nobody was complaining about that apart from estate agents and removal vans!

 

With the number of Luton people moving being held back, I would anticipate seeing a build-up of supressed demand for Luton property from Covid-19, on top of the pent-up demand from Brexit, especially with many Luton families realising their Luton homes aren’t large enough to contain them as the lockdown experience will push many Luton households to move in late 2020 or possibly 2021 …and as every economics student knows, when demand outstrips supply (because we can’t all of a sudden build more houses), prices go up.

 

How Will This Affect Luton First Time Buyers, Those Trading up, Downsizers and Landlords & Tenants?

 

FIRST TIME BUYERS - I believe the banks will be a little more wary when lending money to first buyers with their need for large percentage mortgages. The demand for the Help-to-Buy Scheme has been increasing year-on-year, yet its pace of growth has been declining in the last couple years – I foresee demand accelerating in the later parts of 2020. There could be some good deals to be had from new homes builders looking to release cash in Q3 and Q4 later in the year? Maybe the Bank of Mum and Dad might be able to help, yet they too will be stretched, although they might be able to release equity down the generations to their children and grandchildren (see the downsizers section).

 

TRADING UP – Many Luton homeowners in their starter homes will be going stir-crazy in their smaller homes, and with interest rates at ultralow levels, some Luton homeowners might forgo holidays and entertaining, and consider putting their weight and finances into moving up market in Luton. That might also be easier, if the Luton downsizers start to move as well.

 

DOWNSIZERS – There are many Luton retired people, rattling around their large Luton home, with their children having flown the nest and possibly moved away years ago. These Luton people don’t need to move, and so are considered ‘optional home-movers’ – yet the Covid-19 crisis could be the catalyst to make them finally move to be nearer their family around the UK – releasing good sized Luton family homes onto the property market for the ‘Trading Uppers’ to buy.

 

LANDLORDS & TENANTS – I suspect there won’t be many Luton tenants moving in the next three to four months. Tenants have the peace of mind with a cessation on evictions until the summer and buy-to-let mortgage payment holidays for buy-to-let landlords whose tenants are in financial difficulty (note the tenants have to give proof to their landlord that they are unable to pay with their applications to Universal Credit etc., etc.,). There might be small reductions in average rents, as some Luton landlords undertake to help their tenants in these chastened financial times, yet for most people, rents will continue to be paid, making no major impression on rental prices in 2020.

 

Let’s not forget, the level of average rents is directly related to tenants wages and I can’t see why this relationship between rents and tenants wages should break after Covid-19, so as wages are held back in the latter parts of 2020 the growth rents over the next year will be subdued. Finally, those Luton buy-to-let landlords sitting on cash might be able to bag a bargain in the summer from a desperate seller, before normality returns in Q3 and Q4 2020.

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

We are in unchartered territory, yet for the reasons explained in this article and, assuming there are no other seismic shocks in the coming weeks and months – in a few years’ time – this will be seen as a bump (albeit a rather big bump)  - another part of the roller coaster ride of the UK and Luton property market.

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