News Book a Property Valuation
25Sep

3 Reasons That Will Make You Want to Stop Being an

Oswestry Buy-to-Let Landlord

… and the six reasons that will make you want to become one

 

The buy-to-let market in Oswestry is about to enter a challenging 12 to 24 months. Yet by looking back at the last recession and what is happening now, there are vital lessons all Oswestry landlords can learn to protect themselves, and in fact create opportunities for themselves both in the short term and ultimately the longer term. For the purposes of this article, I would like to split these and look at the challenges and then the opportunities.

 

So, let’s consider the challenges ahead for Oswestry landlords …

 

Overall, the impending rise in unemployment stands to encumber tenants’ ability to pay their rent, the rents being achieved and the possible Capital Gains Tax changes might mean an increase in tax paid by Oswestry landlords when they come to sell their Oswestry buy-to-let properties.

 

Lets look at these three points in greater detail. Firstly looking at your Oswestry tenants ability to pay the rent; the Furlough Scheme certainly did help soften the blow, helping out 8.9 million people in May (out of 30.5 million who were eligible for it) and at the last count in early August, this thankfully had reduced to 5.3 million people (meaning 15.86% of workers are still on furlough). However, it cannot be denied the economic fallout from Coronavirus has already placed some tenants under economic strain. As the Furlough Scheme finishes at the end of October, commentators are suggesting the number of tenants either incapable of paying their rent, or requesting a reduction in their rent, is predicted to increase as we go into autumn and early winter.

 

The ultimate sanction against non-payment of rent is legal proceedings although guidance from the Government has recommended that landlords and tenants should work together and deplete all possible options before starting eviction proceedings. Yet many landlords are feeling the pressure as many mortgage payment holidays will be coming to a close at the end of September. Some Oswestry landlords can indisputably see that their tenants are finding it tough and they are willing to work with them, but they can only make allowances go so far.  Landlords aren’t running a charity and I would stress to any tenant that finds themselves being made unemployed in the months to come to apply for Universal Credit as soon as possible, which should help with their rental payments. With regard to the eviction process, the Government have changed the rules a number of times in the last few months, so if you want an update, don’t hesitate to contact me, whether you are client or not – I am just happy to help.

 

Secondly, it’s interesting that in central London, there has been a glut of Airbnb properties coming onto the market because of lack of tourists to rent them on a short-term let. A greater supply of rental properties has meant a downward pressure on rents in London of 2.1%. I don’t think this is so much of an issue in Oswestry as

 

Oswestry rents are 2.63% higher year on year

 

Thirdly, there is talk that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is looking at changing the Capital Gains Taxation rules.  As property is the biggest asset that most people own, this is also reason for concern for Oswestry buy-to-let landlords. Currently, Capital Gains Tax on sales of buy-to-let property is levied at 18% for basic income tax rate payers and 28% for higher rate income taxpayers. There is talk the capital gains made on the landlord selling their buy-to-let property could be taxed at the landlord’s income tax rate.

 

Yet before you all start selling your Oswestry portfolios before November’s budget, any changes in Capital Gains Tax would be immediate. That means to ensure you didn’t come foul of the potential rise in the tax, you would have to have to sell your Oswestry portfolio at a ‘fire sale price’ in days and have a solicitor that could do the conveyancing in 3 weeks (whilst it is taking 19 weeks on average for buyers to sort their legal work out) and the buyer be a cash buyer because banks are taking months, not weeks to sort finance. This is just something we are going to have to take on the chin!

 

Let us now consider the opportunities ahead for you Oswestry landlords …

 

As the country officially entered its first recession since 2009, uncertainty in any markets (be it property or stocks and shares etc.) causes investors to vacillate over whether or not to take the jump. Nevertheless, there are numerous indicators that appear to show this is, indeed, a good time either to become a buy-to-let Oswestry landlord or expand one’s property empire and buy more property ... let me explain.

 

Firstly, assets (such as gold and stocks and shares) are great, yet if they aren’t producing income and cash – that doesn’t pay for your day-to-day living. Gold doesn’t create any income and many FTSE companies won’t be paying dividends for a while. Government Bonds are currently earning their investors 0.2% (no – that isn’t a typo) and the best savings accounts are achieving 1.1% with a 120-day notice period, so where are you going to invest your hard-earned money?

 

The average Oswestry buy-to-let property

will earn a monthly return of 4.34%

 

Of course, deciding on the right Oswestry property is crucial to get a good rental income and return. I have seen so many Oswestry first-time landlords buy with their heart and not their head. Buying your own home is more heart than head but buy-to-let is a completely different kettle of fish. There is the inverse relationship between income (rent) and capital growth (how much it will go up in value in the future) i.e. as one goes up, the other tends to go down – so getting the balance for your needs is vital. Again, I can advise on that for you.

 

Secondly, with the stamp duty holiday and the pent up demand for people wanting to move home in Oswestry (discussed many times recently in this blog), the Oswestry property market is certainly very buoyant at the moment, yet even the most optimistic agents say it cannot last. Whether the market goes pop or has a slow and steady puncture, the market will cool in 2021. The recession will mean some people are less able to afford a mortgage. This means that if Oswestry property values do ease off in 2021, you may be able to get a great buy-to-let deal if you are planning on becoming an Oswestry landlord or expand your property empire as an existing landlord.

 

Also, if the property market does find property prices realign to a new normal in 2021/2, house sellers may find it difficult to get a good price on their Oswestry home during a recession, meaning many house sellers may be more agreeable to sell their property at a lower price.

 

Third, if people aren’t buying, they still need a roof over their head and the council aren’t building any council houses, meaning the private sector will need to take up the slack.

 

Rightmove reported tenant demand grew by a third in

May 2020 when compared to the same month in 2019

 

Therefore, if you are still unsure about becoming an Oswestry landlord, knowing that more Oswestry people want to rent should help you feel more comfortable as the risk of ‘running out’ of renters interested in your Oswestry property is minimal. Yet again, please don’t go buying any old Oswestry property, as it’s fundamental that you make a good investment from the start in order to see a good return on your investment.

 

If Oswestry property values do fall in 2021 (as in 2009),

tenant demand for Oswestry property will only go up

 

Fourth, the Government reduced Stamp Duty with the sole aim to benefit the property market. The purchase needs to complete by the end of March 2021, which means you will need to have bought the property by November at the latest (as obtaining finance and legal work is taking at least 19 weeks). A word to the wise though, that whilst the saving in Stamp Duty delivers some up-front saving for those buying a buy a let property, don’t get carried away and use that saving in the purchase price you pay. Certain sectors of the Oswestry property market are seeing some very inflated prices, meaning if you go into battle for a show home quality semi-detached house within a stone’s throw of the best school, you will be fighting against buyers who want it for themselves and are prepared to pay top dollar for it, meaning some landlords could end up paying more for a property. My advice, if you want to save on the Stamp Duty, there are bargains to be had – you just have to know what you are looking for (again, as mentioned in point 1 – I am here to help on that whether you are a client of mine or not). The other option would be ‘just hold back’ until after 31 March 2021, when Oswestry property prices could ease.

 

Fifth, reports that the mortgage lenders are imposing stricter conditions are true, yet even during Covid, many lenders are seeing buy-to-let landlords as a safer option to lend their money to. In June alone, the number of buy-to-let mortgage products rose by 19.2% (to just over 1,700) meaning if you have a decent deposit of 30% upwards, you are likely to find something that fits your needs (at the time of writing this article, the Birmingham Midshires had a buy-to-let 5-year fixed rate mortgage at 1.94% and Santander at 2.04% ... this is cheap money in anyone’s language). Mortgage rates are ever becoming more economical, which is a great motivation for anyone wanting to get a foot on the Oswestry buy-to-let property ladder.

 

Finally, words cannot portray the feeling of being able to see and touch one’s investment like the sensation of bricks and mortar. Buy-to-let investment has to be seen as a long-term investment yet, for many, that is a source of financial security. Of course property values might go south next year (but they might not!) whereas there may be intervals where it’s more problematic to sell because property values will be too low, as is normally the situation throughout a recession, there will also be times where Oswestry landlords will make a nice profit when selling their buy-to-let homes. Like all things in life – it’s all about the timing.

 

Oswestry property values are 178% higher than 20 years ago

 

If you’re looking to invest but are not interested in stocks and shares (and you understand that your money may be tied up for a while) then the Oswestry buy-to-let market could be for you.

 

To conclude, buying the right Oswestry property at the right price to start with, presenting the property in the best way to get the best tenant, fully checking out and referencing the tenant to ensure they have a good track record of being a good tenant that doesn’t trash the property and has always paid the rent on time in the past and then finally, managing the property to ensure your property complies with the 200+ legislations and regulations of rental property, so you can sleep well at night … all to ensure the property is returned at the end of the tenancy to you in good order is what nirvana looks like.

 

Of course, buy-to-let does come with some risks and challenges, but it’s all about mitigating those risks. Also, there is no denying that buy-to-let also comes with a lot of opportunities as well. If you are a landlord with another agent or even an Oswestry landlord that manages the property themselves, feel free to drop me a message, email or pick up the phone and let’s chat about your personal goals when it comes to buy-to-let … because what have you got to lose? Surely 15/20 minutes of your time to get great insight and inside track is worth it?

 

Remember, the choice is yours!

 

 

 

 

 

02Sep

The 1,342 ‘Trapped Landlords’ of Oswestry

 

Going into lockdown in March, the Government proclaimed a ban on tenant evictions, pledging that no tenant in a private rented home, who had lost their wages due to Covid-19 would be kicked out of their private rented home until the late summer. Fast forward to August and the press were being briefed as late as Wednesday 19th August that this freeze in evictions in England and Wales would cease on the 23rd August. That was until just after 4pm Friday 21st August when Mr Jenrick, the Housing Minister, announced that the eviction ban would be extended for a further four weeks and also buy to let landlords must now give their tenants six months notice to gain possession.

 

Cue crocodile tears for all the 1,342 Oswestry landlords

 

Not so ‘snappy’ with piping your eye there. I know many Oswestry landlords became landlords between 2000 and 2009 because they preferred bricks and mortar to investing in the stock market or gilts/bonds market. All they were looking for was a small pension income to top up their meagre state pension. Not all Oswestry landlords are akin to the 21st Century Rising Damp version of Leonard Rossiter with his ‘Rigsby-esqe’ or even ‘Rach-manism’ wicked landlord ways. Official estimates suggest there are 1.8m to 2.1m landlords in the UK, the vast majority doing the right thing by their tenants, many of whom have helped their Oswestry tenants in financial trouble during Covid-19 by acquiescing to short-term rent reductions or rent-payment holidays.

 

Also, many Oswestry landlords have mortgages (in fact, if we added all the UK buy to let landlord’s mortgages, they would add up to £216.65 billion). The Government and the Bank of England have applied political influence on the mortgage companies to be a little more flexible and sympathetic on landlord’s mortgage interest payments, yet the mortgage interest is still adding up. The issue is, some tenants are in arrears with their rent, meaning landlords aren’t receiving their rent, which means many buy to let mortgages aren’t being paid either.

 

So, how many tenants are in arrears? The National Residential Landlords Association stated that just 3% of landlords recently surveyed reported tenants are in arrears. This was backed up recently when Goodlord stated …

 

3.72% of tenancies in the UK are in arrears,

although interestingly ours stands at x.x%

 

These are only slightly above the pre-Covid arrears levels, yet still a strain for the landlords involved. Also, the two-month notice period of the section 21 Notice has been extended to six months, meaning it will be March before any tenants are made to leave, even if the notice was issued now.

 

So, does this leave Oswestry landlords trapped?

 

With regard to the arrears, only 1 in 17 landlords rent their property through a limited company, meaning the rest (i.e. the vast majority) rent their property as a person, thus giving themselves unlimited personal liability should their rental portfolio fail (i.e. the mortgage company could make a claim on the landlords own assets, including their main residence, if the property was repossessed and the shortfall wasn’t made up). Also, if the building society’s and Banks turn against the Government advice and are too lenient with landlords with buy to let mortgages, there could be situations where the rental properties are repossessed, meaning the tenant will be made homeless.

 

I am particularly concerned about the fate of the

377 self-managing Oswestry landlords (i.e. they don’t use an agent)

 

They should seriously consider taking out rent guarantee insurance to protect themselves against any potential defaulting tenants (so many don’t). Reasonably priced rent guarantee insurance products, even on existing tenancies are still available to landlords via agents, even in these Covid-19 times (whether you are a client of mine or not do not hesitate to pick up the phone and have a chat or send me an email). Whilst the policies aren’t inexpensive – they do give you peace of mind with the rental payments.

 

One thing that this does also remind me of is the 2008 Credit Crunch. There were an awful lot of Oswestry homeowners who were unable to sell their home in 2008/9, so they converted their Oswestry property into a buy to let investment. There are going to be an awful lot of Oswestry landlords who will also want to sell in the next six to nine months, yet are unable to do so until the middle of next year without having to take a hit on the value of their home. For those Oswestry landlords that can relate to that, maybe we should chat to consider your options so you can mitigate any losses?

 

It seems Oswestry landlords have been used to saving the Government from a PR disaster of homeless tenants on the streets at Christmas, the least we should do in the country is stop disparaging landlords and lift them up from their pariah status.

 

Oswestry landlords are housing 5,325 Oswestry people in private

rented accommodation…

 

… and so it is my opinion that the contributions made by these Oswestry landlords should be recognised. My fear is always of a danger of a widening schism between the landlords and tenants. Truth be told, both need each other, and I hope the Government extend help to landlords as they have with tenants, otherwise the Government won’t have any homes to house the British people if all the landlords decide to sell up. It is especially important that the supply of private properties doesn’t drop in Oswestry going forward when you consider…

 

Oswestry needs an additional 1,008 private rental homes by 2029

 

In the meantime, the Government have bigger fish to fry sorting out the economy as a whole, so if you are a self-managing landlord or even a landlord with another agent in Oswestry, feel free to pick up the phone or make contact with me and we can discuss your options without any obligation. There is no need to feel trapped, there are options for you and it is better to consider them now - set the foundations and motions going in the right direction promptly before it becomes a bigger issue in the future.

 

 

26Aug

102 Oswestry Properties Sold in Stamp Duty Holiday Bonanza

 

On the 8th of July 2020, the Chancellor announced the first £500,000 of any property bought was exempt from stamp duty until 31st March 2021. This also included buy to let landlords (although they would still need to pay the additional 3% stamp duty level for second properties). Talking to many of you Oswestry homeowners, I know lots of you are bringing forward your home moving plans to take advantage of this tax cut. Also, many Oswestry portfolio landlords are looking to save paying the tax by bringing their portfolio purchases forward.  Yet how do you ensure you sell and buy your Oswestry property whilst the tax cut applies (a saving of up to £15,000 of stamp duty on your next Oswestry home?).

 

The biggest issue whenever you are selling your Oswestry property is the properties that you are in competition with. Plenty of Oswestry homeowners have jumped onto the stamp duty holiday bandwagon since the announcement and there are 10% more properties for sale in Oswestry than there were during lockdown. The number of properties for sale in Oswestry can split down into type…

 

·            *  Detached Oswestry homes up 21%

·            * Semi-detached Oswestry homes down 7%

·            * Terraced / town houses Oswestry homes up 29%

·            *  Apartments in Oswestry up 13%

 

So, now you know what you are up against, what do you need to know?

 

The most important factor is the time issue. It currently takes on average 17 to 19 weeks between a sale price being agreed and the keys being handed over, meaning you need to have found a buyer before the end of November or early December to enable you to complete the sale by the 31st March 2021. That means you really need to have placed your property on the market by the end of September and early/mid-October at the very latest to take advantage of the stamp duty Holiday. Don’t get me wrong though, you could put your Oswestry property on the market after that date, yet the price you will be able to achieve for your property could be affected.

 

There are 256 properties on the market in Oswestry,

of which 102 have sales agreed on them

 

Talking of price, or more specifically the asking price. There is a window of opportunity for Oswestry homeowners to take advantage of this stamp duty tax cut, yet don’t let local estate agents curry favour with you by tempting you with a high initial asking price to win the right to put their for sale board outside your Oswestry home.

 

A Which report stated in 2017 that many estate agents routinely over inflated the asking prices of the properties they brought to market. One might ask why this is an issue for Oswestry property sellers, as surely, they can just reduce their asking price at a later date? The excellent report proved that those estate agents who on the face of it appear to be doing you some kindness by endeavouring to get more for your home with a suggested higher asking price, the property often ended up selling for much less than similar properties that were realistically priced properties from day one and also, they ultimately took longer to sell!

This Which report compared the original asking price with final selling prices for 370,000 properties to ascertain how many estate agents had reduced the initial asking price of properties in order to sell them. Which found that 70,300 (19%) of all 370,000 properties sold had to be reduced by at least 5% in order to get the property sold, whilst the other 81% (299,700) had no or very minimal reductions to get them sold.

 

Of the 299,700 sold properties that weren’t reduced or reduced by less than 5%, the average initial asking price was £261,000, yet they eventually sold for an average sale price of £260,000. For those 70,300 homes whose asking prices were reduced by over 5%, whilst the average listing price was £266,000, their eventual sale price was only £241,000, a loss of £20,000 each. Even worse, those properties with the heavy price reductions (5% or more) took an average of nine weeks and one day longer to sell (when compared to the other properties with no or minimal reductions).

 

What that means is by over inflating your initial asking price of your Oswestry home, it will cost those Oswestry homeowners an extra nine weeks to find a buyer and they will lose out on the final sale price by some considerable margin (meaning you will also probably lose out on the stamp duty holiday).

Assuming your asking is price is realistic, you aren’t out of the woods yet. Other things that will help you get the best price for your Oswestry home in the best possible time (and thus save you money with the stamp duty holiday) are …

 

·        *  Everyone searches on the portals for their next home. Photos are therefore very important (a picture speaks a thousand      words). If the weather isn’t good on the day of the photoshoot, ask the agent to revisit when the sun is out (and even tell    them to hold off marketing the property until those pictures are perfect)… as you only get one go at being ‘new to the          market’, with all the excitement and interest that causes.

 

·       *  Employ the services of a solicitor at the same time as instructing the estate agent. Bringing together the legal paperwork      of  the property you are selling. By doing so, you will save weeks between the sale agreed and completion. Also, solicitors    will be really busy, juggling many property transactions at the same time in the next 200+ days. Anything you can do to      get a head start on others can only help your cause.

 

·       *  Kerb side appeal. Look at your property from across the road. Does the front door need painting? Could a tonne of gravel      spruce up your driveway? Maybe adding some hanging baskets and planted pots will help to make a home stand out for        the best reasons?

 

The final piece of advice I can give you is if you are planning to sell your Oswestry home, make sure your Oswestry estate agent can show you proof of similar Oswestry properties and what they actually sold for to back up their suggested asking price. If the asking price isn’t realistic, the chances are you end up losing many thousands of pounds and wasting everyone’s time. If you would like to chat about selling your Oswestry home, please do not hesitate to pick up the telephone.

14Aug

Nimbyism in Oswestry is Dead – Long Live the Planning Permission Rule Changes:

How will this affect the 13,459 Oswestry Property Owners?

 

The 1st July 1948 heralded a new dawn in how property was built, as the Town & Country Planning Act 1947 came into force, meaning no property could be built without the say so of the local authority. Now, Boris Johnson has announced a substantial change to that, by in effect, ending planning permission.

 

The decision of what gets built (and what doesn’t) will be removed from Shropshire Council and replaced by Westminster governed ‘Zoning Commissions’. The anticipated reform will give presumptive building rights to any piece of land outside areas of outstanding natural beauty, green belt and national parks, although in the press release there was mention of protection for the countryside.

 

Travel to Europe and it’s common to see out of place haphazard development of new households or commercial buildings, surrounded by open countryside ... so, I hope these new regulations protect us against that.

 

The principles of the planning rule changes are a departure away from looking at each planning application as a standalone application to a ‘zone-system’ of planning. Land will be divided into three classes: 1st for growth, 2nd for protection and 3rd for renewal. Anyone applying for planning permission to develop homes, offices and shops on land zoned for growth, will automatically be granted planning permission; whilst land zoned for renewal planning permission will be granted in principle while Government officers perform checks. Local authorities have until 2024 to designate areas for the three classes and once agreed, planning departments will have little or no say over individual applications that fit the rules.

 

Interestingly, these changes come on top of new planning regulations coming into force this September which gives implied rights to demolish any office building and replace with a block of flats, and the right to build extra floors/storeys on your home.

 

The Housing Secretary has specified the motive behind the changes to the planning system is not to make planning permissions easier to get (although 88% of planning applications are approved by local authority’s already). Instead, they have been done to make the planning process quicker, less expensive and less likely to be held up by special ‘interest’ groups.

 

92% of planning permissions in Shropshire Council

were approved last year (compared to the national average of 88%)

Noteworthy, the planning rules were changed in 2016 to turn disused shops and office space into residential homes (called ‘permitted development’ rights), yet these new regulations about to be announced by Boris will take that right even further. This is important because in 2019, there were 241,340 new households created in the country, yet 29,260 of those households came from turning disused shops and office space into residential homes (i.e. the planning permission rule changes made in 2016).

My concern is that the new planning rule changes do not make shop or redundant space into the new 21st Century ghettos. An RICS report in 2018 showed a massive difference between the conversion of office blocks with planning permission and those without (i.e. permitted development). What was interesting is that only 1 in 5 properties met the national space standards, a non-legally binding suggestion on the minimum size of home, minimum dimensions of bedrooms, natural light, storage & floor to ceiling height, whilst 3 in 4 of office block conversions that did obtain planning permission met the standard.

These planning changes cannot be a charter for cowboy builders or developers, otherwise your children or grandchildren could end up renting one of these sub-standard homes, thus stealing human dignity from thousands of youngsters who will end up renting these homes.

 

So, what does this all mean to Oswestry homeowners and Oswestry landlords? If you have been reading my articles you will know that one of the most important factors holding back the Oswestry property market is the lack of new properties being constructed and when they are, the lack of infrastructure surrounding them.

 

Since 1995, only 1,451 properties have been built in SY11

 

Yet, these new planning changes will also introduce a new method of taking a lot more money off landowners and builders, as the Government will take a larger share of uplift in land value (i.e. the increase in value from farmland to building land) to finance infrastructure around the development. This would mean new housing developments would come with upgraded roads, GP surgeries, primary schools and shops that these new communities need to be viable. Also, communities will be asked to decide on their own standards on style and design for new developments in their area, allowing residents a greater say on the development in their locality.

 

Like all things, the devil is in the detail. All of us in Oswestry cannot deny that we need to build more homes to keep up with the ever-growing population and the fact that people are living longer. This new planning system should lead to more housebuilding, which in turn would increase the supply of property for those trying to get on the property ladder. Also, in the proposed legislation is the new ‘First Homes scheme, which would allow key workers, first time buyers and people who live or work in the Oswestry area to purchase their new home at 30% less than its market value and when they come to sell it, that 30% discount would be passed on to the new buyer (if they also met the criteria).

 

With regard to what can be built and where, Oswestry people will have a say upfront (i.e. between now and 2024 when the zoning rules are drawn up) but once the zoning has been established, then ‘nimbyism’ will become a thing of the past and hopefully we can construct the Oswestry homes we are proud of for our children and for Oswestry generations to come. 

 

Please do let me have your thoughts on this matter.

11Aug

Oswestry OAP Homeowners to Face £13,863 Coronavirus Tax Bill?

 

The Government is on track to borrow £400bn because of Coronavirus and that needs to be paid back at some stage. Last year alone, before Coronavirus, the Government brought in £824 billion in taxes whilst they spent £887 billion, meaning they had to borrow £63 billion. In fact, the last time taxes were higher than spending in the UK was 1998, meaning since then the country has been living beyond its means.

 

Interestingly, whilst these are certainly eye watering numbers (£400bn is a lot of money in anyone’s book) most people aren’t too concerned in the short term. Because interest rates are so low, the Government are able to borrow this money at 0.39 percent per annum over a 10-year period on the Gilt Markets. There are even 3-year Government gilts at a negative interest rate. This is because the UK has been considered (and still is considered to be) a monetary sanctuary/safe haven for the last 20 years because of the country’s robust credit worthiness. Cheap money – yet it still needs paying back in the years to come and that can only be funded by taxpayers.

 

Ultimately, the Government will have to try to balance the books and that means increasing taxation. I know many will say there is waste in the NHS and MoD procurement, but that has already been squeezed quite hard during the Credit Crunch crisis and years of austerity. Some have suggested stopping the triple lock on pensions, which costs the Exchequer £6bn a year more than if pensions had risen at pre triple lock rates, so that isn’t going to make much of a dent in the debt. Some have suggested we could enter into a second wave of austerity, like we saw from 2010, yet neither the voters nor the wage frozen public sector would accept that. That leaves tax rises as the only option for leaders who claim to take a responsible long-term view of the economy.

 

The Government could raise tax on spending with VAT increases, but they did that in 2011 when it rose to 20% (from 17.5%). Also, increases in VAT affect the poor more than the rich. Then they could raise it from earnings (Corporation Tax, Income Tax and National Insurance) yet it’s been proved raising these ‘earning taxes’ ends up being counter-productive to the economy, resulting in tax receipts going down (even though the tax rate went up). Both are unsatisfactory, not least because big rises end up being unfair to someone.

 

So, some ‘think tank’ groups have suggested that we look to unearned wealth and the equity people, especially the older generation are sitting on in their homes, to pay for Coronavirus. Whilst I am in no way promoting and advocating that idea, I thought it was a fascinating suggestion and wanted to know what that would mean for Oswestry homeowners if such a fanciful idea took hold?

 

OAPs in Britain sit on £1.425 trillion in

housing equity in their own homes

 

The average length of time an OAP homeowner has been in their property, according to official figures, is 24.7 years, meaning on average, 75.8% of that equity is profit. So, if say a capital gains tax of 10% was placed on any profit, it would raise £107.84bn over the next 20 to 25 years. So, what would that mean to Oswestry OAP homeowners?

 

Oswestry OAP homeowners own £1.171bn

worth of property

 

Taking into account the average length of time those homeowners have been in their Oswestry home, that is an ‘unearned’ profit of £885.56m, or £468.55m after inflation. Some ‘think tanks’ have said that should be taxed as some form of capital gains tax.

 

To give you an idea, if every OAP homeowner in Oswestry had to pay a 10% capital gains tax when they (or their descendants) sold their Oswestry home, that would cost them £13,863 each (or a total of £88.56m).

 

So, is this the answer to pay for Coronavirus? There needs to be tax reforms to protect the public finances yet is it fair to tax previous capital gains? Many people say no. Let’s not forget people buy their homes out of taxed income, then pay Stamp Duty, VAT on any improvements and inheritance tax if the property value is more than £675,000, so is it fair the Government want another slice of pie?

 

The older generation who bought these homes saw mortgage rates of 19% in the late 1970’s and 16%+ in the early 1990’s, meaning for every pound borrowed, they ended paying back £3 to £4 when you added up the interest. Also, let’s not forget all the money spent on keeping up the maintenance - money that has already been taxed. The upshot will be this would stop OAP’s selling their homes because it would discourage older people from trading down to a smaller home in retirement, making it even harder for younger families to find a big enough home to live in. Also, many people use the equity in their home to pay for retirement care, so if some of that is going to keep the debts down, that means the Government will have a larger social care bill in future years.

 

One school of thought could be taxing future tax-free gains for ALL homeowners, although given the Tory’s dependence on the more mature middle class (homeowning) voters, this might be a step too far for the Conservatives, so some have said this will be kicked down the road for Labour to sort. Sir Keir Starmer, who appears to be quite a straight-talking and even monetarily responsible Labour leader, is certainly a lot more voter friendly to the British electorate than Corbyn.

 

At the 2024 General Election, he could introduce what appeared to be a smart agenda of tax increases on unearned property capital gains and as long as it was presented in a clearly defined way, maybe turning the tables on the famous Tory General Election poster from 2010, when the Tory’s mocked Gordon Brown for doubling the national debt, implying it was Labour’s fault for the increase in national debt when in fact it was the Credit Crunch that caused it.   

 

Starmer could soberly state Labour were the only party that could be trusted to make hard decisions to avoid burdening future generations with the £400bn ‘Tory’ coronavirus debt

 

One way or another, this £400bn (or £14,440.43 per household) is going to need to be paid back eventually; that means a rise in taxes. Nobody likes paying more tax - yet the truth of the matter is there is a lot of wealth tied up in property, especially with the older generation and so I suppose its introduction is inevitable in the future.

 

Please tell me your thoughts on the matter…

31Jul

What’s Next for the Oswestry Property Market?

 

There is no doubt that Coronavirus will affect the Oswestry property market, but just how?

 

The ensuing economic challenges are going to impact the Oswestry (and UK) property market, yet no one knows the real answer. The newspapers eulogise different opinions, but that's all they are – opinions and everybody's got a different opinion. The truth of the matter is we don't know and won’t know for another few months at least, if not more?

 

There have been some outstanding Government supportive measures both for tenants, landlords, home buyers and sellers (including a pause on evictions for tenants, and for landlords and homeowners, mortgage payment deferments and stamp duty reductions to make buying a home cheaper), and whilst these are only temporary, they have done their job, meaning there is a good level of activity in the Oswestry property market.

 

A lot of that is pent-up demand from a couple of years of uncertainty because of Brexit. Also, we had the General Election in late 2019, so there have been so many reasons for people to sit on their hands. At the beginning of 2020, it was like a water hose ready to burst with the Boris Bounce in January and February. Then, just as things were beginning to get going in the Oswestry property market, we had everything freeze up for months during lockdown. Since lockdown has been lifted …

 

the Oswestry property market is open once again for business

and there is unquestionably some impressive activity both in

the sales and rental market

 

So, back to the original question and where are we going? I think what we will see is a subtle change to where people want to live because of the pandemic. People working from home has shown that the need to be in the big cities has reduced and as employees have realised, they can work very efficiently from home, plus they are happier and have a better work/life balance. Their employers are also happy as they get more work out of their staff and can reduce their costly office footprint in the cities. The same goes for Oswestry tenants as they are wanting more from their rental homes. Three trends we have noticed is there is greater demand for properties with gardens, greater demand for Oswestry landlords who will accept pets (as they now can have them as they work from home) and finally, tenants willingness to pay top dollar for ‘top of the range’ properties, whilst more basic and uncared for properties without all the ‘bells and whistles’ need to go for a discount. There certainly has been a flight to quality.

 

Yet, what worries me is the fundamental future uncertainty in 2021 and beyond. What will things look like, say in spring 2021, when the Stamp Duty reductions are phased out? Any property sold needs to have completed by the end of March 2021 to take advantage of the tax holiday, meaning you need to have sold your Oswestry property by November 2020 at the very latest to ensure your property purchase and sale deal goes through in time (as it is taking on average up to 17 weeks between sale agreed and completion). This is where the difference between a great solicitor, brilliant estate agent and awesome mortgage broker compared to average ones will show. Good ones, when all three are working together for you, can get the sale through in 6 to 8 weeks, not the national average of 17 weeks, meaning if you are cutting it fine, you might not be able to take advantage of the tax savings in the spring. Give me a call if you want to know who the best of the best in Oswestry are to ensure you don’t lose out on those tax savings. 

 

The value of the average Oswestry home

currently stands at £204,400

 

So, what is going to happen to the Oswestry property market? It really depends on the economy as a whole and of course the property market is a large part of that. I know one thing that buy to let landlords and home buyers don't like is ambiguity and the British housing market has always lived and breathed on emotion and sentiment. People will only buy and sell property (and borrow the money to make those transactions happen) when they feel good. Are all these things like Stamp Duty holidays just putting off the inevitable? Are we heading for the mother of all property crashes?

 

Well, let me put sentiment and opinion aside for a second and look at the simple facts.

 

We have an increasing population,

yet we don't build enough houses

Since 1995, we have built on average 150,200 properties per year. The Barker Report said 2004 the country needed 240,000 per year to satisfy annual demand for new homes and whilst the number of new homes built in the UK last year rose 1% to a 13-year high, only 161,000 homes were built. That means over the last 25 years with the difference between actual homes built and the targets set out in the Barker Report, we have an inbuilt shortage of 2,245,000 homes, meaning …

since the Millennium, property values in

Oswestry have increased by 168.4%

 

Other factors have contributed to that. The average age of a person leaving their parents’ home in the UK is 24.4 years and that has been dropping for a few years meaning more homes are required. People are also living longer (in 2000 the average person lived until 77.7 years and now it’s 81.1 years – doesn’t sound a lot until one considers for each additional year the average person lives in the UK, we need an additional 356,500 homes). Finally, we have got immigration. In the year ending March 2019, 612,000 people moved to the UK (immigration) and 385,000 people left the UK (emigration) – meaning a net increase of 227,000 people (or a requirement of c.100,000 homes to house them in one year alone). All those factors in themselves mean…

 

 

we have more demand for Oswestry property than we have

supply and that's not going to change any time soon

 

Property markets are driven (like all markets) by supply and demand so I believe Oswestry property values can only rise in the long term. The question is whether Oswestry people will have the sentiment and confidence to borrow money on a mortgage and invest in Oswestry property, yet at the moment with ultra-low interest rates, borrowing money to buy a home has never been so cheap and if you are in it for the long-term (which you should be with property) then I think it's good news.

 

One piece of good news is that mortgage lenders are willing to lend up to 90 per cent loan to value mortgages for first time buyers (and in some rare cases 95 per cent), albeit with a lot of strings attached ... yet this is a good sign as the banks and building societies wouldn’t be lending at these levels if they were too scared.

 

Investing in property, be it for yourself to live in or buy to let is a long-term game. We might see an uplift in prices in the short term because of the demand mentioned above, then again, we might see a dip in 2021 - yet again for the reasons mentioned above - until we start to build new homes to the scale of 300,000+ a year (something that has never been achieved since 1969), the long-term picture appears to be good. Be you an Oswestry landlord, Oswestry house seller or Oswestry buyer, you have to be a lot more strategic and thoughtful about what you are going to do. If you would like to pick my brains, drop me a message on social media or pick up the phone.

 

So, those are my thoughts, tell me your thoughts for the future of the Oswestry property market?

 

 

23Jul

Every Oswestry Homeowner & Landlord to Receive Up to £5,000 Grant for Roof Insulation & Double Glazing from September

What you need to know

 

The Chancellor announced on Wednesday 8th July in his mini Budget some interesting news for Oswestry homeowners and Oswestry landlords. Rishi Sunak is going to give ‘The Green Homes Grant’ of up to £5,000 to cover two-thirds of the costs of environmentally friendly upgrades to your Oswestry property, with the homeowner covering the other third. There are also enhanced grants of £10,000 for the poorest households where 100% of the cost will be met by the Government.

 

This is nothing new mind you. The coalition Government in 2013 announced The Green Deal. That deal was in theory to have been a help for the builders, energy saving and home improvement industry, as the Government hoped many would take up environmentally friendly improvements to save energy (and ultimately greenhouse gases). Yet by the time it was brought to an end two years later only 14,000 households had applied, costing the taxpayer £238m (or £17,000 per household). That doesn’t sound good value to me - yet who am I to comment?

 

Anyway, let’s not be negative, as improving our homes does makes sense - after all, research shows Brits have the draughtiest homes in Europe. A recent survey suggests UK homes “leak” heat up to three times more quickly than more energy-efficient homes on the continent.

 

Data from 80,000 smart thermostats across the EU were reviewed to measure how quickly a home at 20°C inside cooled once the heating was turned off (when the outside temperature was 0°C). Within 5 hours, the average British home dropped by 3°C, the French came in second at 2.5°C yet the Germans came in at just 1°C, meaning British homes clearly need more heating (i.e. greenhouse gases) to keep them warmer.

 

The chancellor has allotted £2bn to the scheme, which pays for two thirds of the cost of the upgrade and stated that more than 650,000 homes would be upgraded.  This could save those households a total of £195m a year in heating bills (or the equivalent of £300 a year per household), cutting greenhouse gases and saving jobs in the construction industry. The grant can be applied for from September and is open to Oswestry homeowners and private sector Oswestry landlords. Applications must be made before March 2021 and the Treasury have stated about half of the fund would go to households with the lowest incomes (how low is still to be announced), with an enhanced grant of up to £10,000, saving them up to £600 per annum each on their heating bills.

 

The average Oswestry home annually produces 5.203 tonnes of CO2, compared to the national average of 4.101 tonnes

 

Due to the particular individual nature of the properties in Oswestry and their construction type, with suitable improvements in insulation, double glazing and draught proofing, Government statistics state that this could be reduced to 2.838 tonnes for Oswestry homes if suitable work (as per the Green Homes Grant) was carried out.

 

Why is this important? Well UK householders spend £34.735bn a year on their electric and gas bills – this is a lot of money. In fact, looking specifically at Oswestry properties…

 

Oswestry householders spend £844.24 per year on

heating their homes (compared to the national average of £669.34 per year)

 

Yet, if Oswestry householders carried out the energy improvements that ‘The Green Homes Grant’ suggests their energy bills for heating alone would reduce to £595.66 per year ... quite a saving over a decade and beyond (enough to buy a decent holiday – whatever one of those is!).

 

So, with Oswestry homeowners and Oswestry landlords being able to spend the grant on loft, floor and wall insulation, low carbon gas boilers, heat pumps, double or even triple-glazed windows, energy-efficient doors and low energy lighting … everyone should win - the environment, the economy and household budgets. More details on the scheme should be released by the Government in August.

 

 

 

 

 

13Jul

Oswestry Homebuyers & Landlords Set to Save £722,680 in Stamp Duty Over Next

Nine Months

 

The British are infatuated with owning their own property and politicians know that. Margaret Thatcher used it as a vote winner in 1979 when she allowed council house tenants to buy their own home. Coming to the present day, Boris Johnson’s Conservative government have anxieties that the Brits have not been buying nearly enough homes lately and, as with all countries in the world, the British property market was put ‘on ice’ for several months to help contain the Coronavirus, exacerbating the problem.

 

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced on Wednesday plans to boost the property market by momentarily scrapping Stamp Duty Tax (a tax paid by homebuyers) when they buy a property that costs less than £500,000.

 

Interestingly, Stamp Duty was originally introduced in 1694 as a way to raise funds for The Nine Years' War (1688–1697) against Louis XIV of France and applied to property and some legal documents.

 

Why is this important? Well the Government recognise that when the property market is working well, the economy also tends to work well, yet one of the barriers to people moving home is Stamp Duty. Even before Coronavirus, Brits were moving 40.21% less than they were at the start of the millennium, and now with this dreadful situation, the natural reaction is for people to stay put in their own homes, meaning another potential nail in the coffin for the economy.

 

Stamp Duty has raised not an insignificant £166.53bn since 1998, impressive when you consider the NHS costs £129bn per annum. Looking at more recent figures, the Government currently raise £1.045bn per month from Stamp Duty Tax and this statement will remove a good chunk of that from the Chancellors coffers each month, yet the Government knows a healthy property market will help the wider economy.

 

As Stamp Duty is a transaction tax, it restricts labour market mobility, making people who are thinking of switching jobs think twice before moving. Stamp Duty also holds back elderly homeowners from downsizing to smaller homes, which is an issue for the UK, as we don’t have enough homes to meet supply and also curtails first time buyers as it forces them to use some of the savings on the tax, as opposed to using for a deposit.

 

 

 

Before the changes, the Stamp Duty thresholds were as follows: 

 

-          Zero percent up to £125,000

-          Two percent of the next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000)

-          Five percent of the next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000)

-          Ten percent of the next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)

-          12% of the remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

 

and between the 8th July 2020 and 31st March 2021

 

-          Zero percent up to £500,000

-          Five percent of the next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000)

-          Ten percent of the next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)

-          12% of the remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

 

Landlords and Buy to Let Landlords will also benefit from these reduced rates, yet will still have to pay their additional premium for second homes (as they have since April 2016).

 

To give you an idea how significant this is, if these rules had been in place exactly a year ago for Oswestry properties purchased under £500,000 (i.e. between 8th July 2019 and 31st March 2020).

 

Stamp Duty would not have been paid on 339

Oswestry properties, worth in total £78,075,600

 

Anyone buying any home in Oswestry over £500,000 are also winners in this, as they will save having to pay the first £15,000 in stamp duty (under the old scheme). This is because during these 9 months, stamp duty is only paid on the difference over £500,000 (so if you buy a property for say £620,000 – one only pays the stamp duty on the difference between £620,000 and £500,000 i.e. £120,000).

 

I’m all for reducing Stamp Duty, which is imposed progressively at higher rates the higher a property costs (as you can see from the tables above). Yet, short-lived changes to property taxation risk warping the property market and generating a ‘property market hangover’ in Spring 2021. I am part of a group of 2,500 estate and letting agents from the UK, and most of us were running at 150% speed before this announcement, coping with the post Coronavirus explosion in demand.

 

Now it seems that the ‘feast’ will continue until the end of March 2021 as many more people will move to take advantage of the cut in tax. However, some are suggesting this could lead to ‘famine’ down the line as it will stop people moving into the late spring and summer of 2021.

 

History tells us different stories on the influence on transaction volumes from changing Stamp Duty rates. In 1991 the Tory’s raised the Stamp Duty threshold at which house buyers started paying and Gordon Brown did so in 2008 when we went into the Credit Crunch. More recently, both George Osborne and Philip Hammond fine-tuned Stamp Duty so that landlords had to pay an additional Stamp Duty Premium after March 2016 whilst first-time buyers pay less Stamp Duty and the purchasers of more expensive homes (over £1.5m) pay more.

 

The Stamp Duty changes for landlords in 2016 affected the property market only for a short while and by the autumn, transactions levels had returned to normal. However, in 1991, John Major’s Stamp Duty change encouraged home buyers to bring forward home purchases but nevertheless the property market ground to a standstill again once the benefit ended (although the steps up the 1990’s Stamp Duty levels were much harsher as the tax applied to the whole purchase price, not the margin steps as it had in the 1990’s).

 

So how much money will Oswestry people save when buying a home under £500k?

 

The average Stamp Duty paid by those Oswestry homebuyers in the 9 months between 8th July 2019 and 31st March 2020 was £2,132

 

Being objective, I can see why the Chancellor could see this as a suitable way to motivate spending because when people move home, they are more inclined to spend comprehensively on property renovations and the services of solicitors, home removal people, tradesmen and estate agents. So, drastically reducing Stamp Duty will undoubtedly help the UK economy, or at least contain some of the damage from the Coronavirus.  

 

Also, the experience of being in lockdown will have confirmed to many Oswestry people that they need a bigger home or one with a bigger garden. I also suspect other people may be able to work from home on a more long-lasting basis, meaning there could be a shift from the larger cities to outlying towns and even a move to the countryside.

 

So, these are my thoughts, what are yours?

                       

 

18Jun

 

 

It seems we can’t go a day in the news without hearing about the affects of poor mental health on young people. One Oswestry business is doing its bit to tackle the issues head on as part of the anniversary of 15 years in business in the town with a ‘year of giving back’.

 

Woodhead Oswestry Sales and Lettings has provided funding for a series of Happiness Clubs in two schools in the town.

Bellan House and Woodside School have already rolled out the four-week courses to its pupils.

Kate Howell of Woodhead Oswestry Sales and Lettings explains the reason behind the Happiness Clubs: “At work we are seeing the effect of mental health issues. We live in a small area and have seen a lot of people take their lives and it affects us all.

“We would like young people to learn the skills of coping with different situations in life. What seems desperate today can improve tomorrow and it can be a better day. Kids face a lot of sad situations and these sessions give them some of the basic tools to deal with it.”

Kate, who faced tragedy in her own life after her father lost his life to cancer was able to throw herself into work 15 years-ago by setting up the popular estate agents located on Leg Street.

“I came from an independent family business background, so working hard was all I knew how to do. It was the loss of my dad which spurred me to set up the business all those years ago. With nothing but a small business loan and a lot of help from family and friends, I opened the agency.”

Kate was a woman in a man’s world back then. The only female estate agent to set up in the town and faced all the challenges of breaking into an established industry.

But it was this fresh approach, youth and enthusiasm that helped her cement her place in the town’s business world. She brought her knowledge of new technology with her and continues to lead in this field. She was the first to install a digital touch screen in her shop window.

“We’re the oldest of the new and the youngest of the old,” beams Kate, “so we’ve got our finger on the pulse. We stay ahead of legislation and compliance and can react quickly to change.”

Woodhead Oswestry Sales and Lettings is a member of the prestigious Guild of Property Professionals and often welcomes industry leaders such as the head of the Landlord’s Association and the head of compliance in the UK to its Oswestry branch.

After nearly 25 years in the industry, Kate has seen some significant changes in the town’s property market, but none more so than now.

“Now seems to be the biggest change in Oswestry’s history. We’re at the start of a lot of big developments like Aico, Morrisons and several large housing developments.

“Years ago, I bought my building because I believed in the town and I believe that more businesses will come here. The infrastructure is starting to improve, and the town has waited a long time to see progress like this.”

The estate agency and subsequent addition of the Principality Oswestry agency have continued to grow from strength to strength, now employing 10 people and becoming the fastest growing agency the Principality have ever had.

The future for Kate and Woodhead looks bright.

“I don’t want to be the biggest, I want to be the best. I like the fact that the industry is becoming more regulated and we will be working harder than ever. I embrace that challenge.

“I like working with people. I like people telling me what they want and going out and finding it for them or them telling me they don’t want something, and I can sell it for them. It’s a very satisfying part of my role.”

Asked what advice she had for other aspiring entrepreneurs, she said “Your passion for your business has got to come from the heart so you can give it everything you’ve got. Blood, sweat and tears have gone into making the business what it is today.”

As mental health continues to play an important role in society, so Kate continues to wave the banner for mental health initiatives in local schools. “Mental health touches everybody. I threw myself into the business to cope with the death of my father. Little ones are our future. If we can help one child to learn how to cope with a challenging situation through the Happiness Club, then it has all been worth it.”

05Jun

 

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

  

Well quite frankly, to answer that question it’s contingent on what Oswestry 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 Oswestry (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 and locally, with regard to property values…

 

Oswestry house prices rose by 7.4% 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 transaction 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).

 

Oswestry property values after the 2008 Credit Crunch crisis plummeted 7.2% 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 Oswestry first-time buyers who have already saved their deposit could grab a bargain in the coming months, as 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 Oswestry 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 Oswestry 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) Oswestry 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 Oswestry is £136,100 and so with the 5% deposit of £6,000 on a 35-year term the…

 

Mortgage payments on a typical Oswestry terraced house would only be £497 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 Oswestry 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 Oswestry property for you, at the price that feels right, that will be your home together and you are going live in that Oswestry property for the next five to ten years, it’s not a bad time to be buying.  It’s 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 help with the deposit. If you don’t ask …you don’t get!

16May

In our anniversary year, our pledge is to give back and as part of this we are currently working with local schools in the area and sponsoring the delivery of an Emotional Management Programme for Children. In 2015, Nicky Morgan, then Secretary of State, spoke about how our children were now "facing unimaginable pressures" and 1 in 4 children show evidence of mental ill heath (ONS, 2016).

The programme will run for a number of weeks and forms part of our anniversary pledge to give back to our local community and thank everyone for all the business you have given us over the last 15 years.

13May

This year, Woodhead Sales and Lettings are celebrating 15 years of business and over 12 years operating as Oswestry’s first and only chosen representative of the Guild of Property Professionals.

This is a significant milestone for Oswestry’s award-winning independent agent and as part of the celebrations, Woodheads have been running several competitions on their Facebook Page to showcase the wonderful array of independent businesses operating in the town.

 

Kate Howell, Owner of Woodheads, comments:

 

“Buying or selling a house is one of the biggest, most significant events in your life and we are so proud and happy to have been supporting our customers for the last 15 years. In this time, we have built an award-winning business with an unrivalled passion and knowledge of Oswestry, its borders and surrounding areas. We pride ourselves on our professional, honest and trusted service and are so grateful to everyone who has supported us along the way. To celebrate this milestone we are running a sequence of competitions that showcase the wonderful, independently owned and run enterprises we have in our lovely town of Oswestry. Run in collaboration with other local business owners, so far we have given away a voucher for Barkers Gift Shop and an Easter Hamper from M. Battams the Butchers”.

 

Keep an eye out for the next competition, coming soon!

 

If you are thinking of selling or renting out your property, contact Woodheads today and see where a free, no obligation valuation could take you…

 

https://www.woodheadsalesandlettings.com/valuation-request

07May

The Guardian recently featured one of our properties in the article 'Let's move to Oswestry'. 

The article "Let's move to Oswestry, Shropshire: chocolate-box pretty with skeletons in its past" highlights some of the 'star features' of Oswestry and we were delighted that they had chosen to feature one of our properties in the article:

"Bargain of the week: An absolutely delightful, large five-bedroom detached Edwardian house; needs a spot of updating. £360,000, with woodheadsalesandlettings.com"

A copy of the article can be viewed below:

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/may/03/lets-move-to-oswestry-shropshire?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_WhatsApp&fbclid=IwAR3YHHFseiu8kHQSa4wg5UPJwZk6AVPRfCWL5Vxau_cmJ7Upg8DK4wjbnGI

21Mar

Thank you to our staff and everyone who popped in and supported our fundraising event. Our Red Nose Day 2019 Cake Sale raised £160.00.

25Feb

Woodheads are delighted to have renewed their sponsorship deal with Oswestry Cricket Club for the 2019 season. The sponsorship provides support to the junior section at the club including coaching, bats and shirts. 

21Dec

2019 marks a significant time for Woodhead Sales and Lettings as they celebrate 15 years of business and over 12 years operating as Oswestry’s first and only chosen representative of the Guild of Property Professionals.

Kimberley Morris, on behalf of Woodheads, explains:

“Buying or selling a house is one of the biggest events in your life and we are so proud and happy to have been supporting our customers for the last 15 years. With Woodheads you really do get the best of both worlds – a proven, independent, market-leading agent on the high street and the national backing of the Guild of Property Professionals. Over the last 15 years we have built an award-winning business that has an unrivalled passion and knowledge of Oswestry, its borders and surrounding areas.

As we enter 2019, there is no doubt that we are in amidst changing times and with this comes changing advice. My job is to be proactive and positive in this changing market and as the recommended agent in the area, Woodheads want to lead from the front to continue to deliver the very best service to our customers. Shropshire and the Welsh Borders are extremely desirable areas to live and at the last exhibition in London we were being asked for every kind of property - renovations, family homes, country and town houses, investments, building land and auctions. We need the stock to meet this growing, varied demand for all types of property as our area continues to grow and NOT follow the national trend.”

Come onto the market with Woodheads from 7th January and benefit from their Spring offer:

·         £500 off fees*

·         EPC, Floor Plans and Professional Photography Pack – all for £199*

* Subject to terms

Contact Woodheads on 01691 680044 to arrange a free, no obligation valuation. 

04Dec

Kate and Jill, valuers at Woodheads, recently spent the day at the the NEGOTIATOR EXPO at Grosvenor House on Park Lane. The event is a major date on the calendar for the estate and letting agency industry.

They listened to presentations from experts in the industry and politicians. Kate Howell, owner of Woodheads, comments: “In changing times, there is changing advice and as the recommended family agent in our area, Woodheads want to lead from the front and deliver the very best service to our customer”.


12Nov

Woodheads Sales and Lettings were delighted to be able to offer their support to Oswestry Boys and Girls Club, by sponsoring their Under 8 Blue Devil’s football tops.

Dean Pritchard from Oswestry Boys and Girls Club, commented:

“We are so grateful for the generosity shown by Kate from Woodheads. The boys were made up when we were able to hand out the tops. It's great that a local company like Woodheads are willing to support local clubs like Oswestry Boys and Girls Club. With their support, our boys are able to turn up to matches and training looking smart and professional, which can sometimes give us an edge before a ball is even kicked. From everyone associated with the Under 8 Blue Devils, we'd like to thank Kate and the team for their support and generosity”.

Kate Howell, Owner of Woodheads, commented: “Woodheads is a family run business and we are proud supporters of a number of local organisations. It’s great to see pictures of the team in their new tops, they look great! Good luck for the season from all at Woodheads!”




15Oct

Buying a home for the first time can be an emotionally driven experience, especially when you consider the various elements that need to be taken into account. While there are several new and exciting things that go into buying a home, it can be a complicated process to negotiate. Often, it’s easy to focus on the smaller details and lose sight of the larger picture while possibly making mistakes.

Here what you need to avoid along the way:

Not getting a mortgage in principle

Once you have made the decision to buy a property, the temptation to jump into the search with both feet will be overwhelming. However, rushing in before speaking to your bank about the mortgage they are prepared to offer you could lead to disappointment. Imagine you find a house you love, only to learn it is not within your price range when applying for the mortgage. While not a requirement or guarantee, getting a Mortgage in Principle will provide you with a written estimate from a lender, giving an indication of what you can borrow. 

It’s possible to apply for a Mortgage in Principle through a mortgage adviser such as L&C or directly with a lender. They will provide you with the reassurance that you are looking at properties within your price range and they will let the seller know you are serious and qualify to buy the property.  

Not working out what you can afford

There might be a difference between the mortgage you qualify for and what you can comfortably afford in real terms. It is always advisable that you leave some cushioning in the budget. Look at your finances and make a list of your expenses before determining a budget for a property to gain a clear idea of what you can afford. Don’t stretch your finances too thin, as this will make you vulnerable if unforeseen circumstances rear their head.

Focusing on the flaws

You shouldn’t compromise on your ‘must-haves’ but placing too much focus on the home’s flaws might have you miss the things that really matter. Fixtures can be replaced, rooms can be made open-plan or walls can be added to create your dream home with a property that meets your essential criteria.   

Falling in love blindly

On the other end of the spectrum, you shouldn’t overlook a home because of its flaws, but don’t completely ignore them either. The look of a home is one thing, but more serious issues such as structural damage are quite another. Often, once a buyer sees a home that they think is the one, their decisions will be based on the emotional connection rather than the facts. Be fully aware of all the property’s issues before you put in an offer. Ask your Guild agent to explain all a property’s past and current major or structural issues, or seek advice from a surveyor.

Waiting too long

It is crucial to make an informed decision when choosing the right home, but don’t take too long, otherwise, you could lose out to a faster buyer. Once you have found the right home, be decisive and take action to avoid disappointment. 

Not thinking about the future

Consider aspects such as the home’s resale potential as well as your future plans. It might seem strange to think about selling the home before you have bought it but much of the home’s potential return on investment is based on decisions you make when buying, not selling. 

Factors that will affect the home’s resale value include:

Location

Condition

Type of property 

Number of bedrooms  

Garage or off-street parking. 

Investments in infrastructure, like HS2

Also, consider whether the home will meet your needs in the future. For example, you may not have children now but plan to shortly - this means needing an extra bedroom or ensuring that you purchase near a school with the desired Ofsted rating. Think about whether the home meets your situation now, but also if it can meet your evolving needs.

25Jul

Before selling your home, most people try to spruce up their property by decluttering and doing a thorough clean. But many people forget the area that gives a first impression is the garden. We all like to get outside and enjoy a sunny summer afternoon, so make sure your garden looks appealing for a potential buyer. Here are some easy tips to follow to make your garden add value to your property. 


1. Spruce up the space 

Just like inside your home, some decluttering and garden maintenance can add value to your property. Always start with tidying and key maintenance. 

“Depending on their situation, buyers could see the garden as entertaining space, a hobby, the place where their children will play, space for their pets, a source of food or a combination of any or all of these, so it is crucial that sellers place as much importance on the presentation of the garden as they would on the presentation of the house,” says Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris in Cambridgeshire. “Good gardens can add value to a home and poorly kept gardens can detract from it.”

Susie Davies from Debbie Fortune Estate Agents in Somerset recommends maintaining the lawns. “A manicured lawn always enhances the appearance of a garden and makes it look bigger,” she says. 

Lee Hussell from Webbers in Devon has some practical advice. “The first place to start is to give your garden a good tidy up. Winters are never kind to our gardens and damage may have been caused to fences and trellis or maybe the larger shrubs and trees. Any dead growth can be cut back and fallen leaves and other debris can be removed and cleared away.”


2. Add some seasonal colour  

Once your garden is tidy, it is time to make it into a key selling point that potential buyers will love. 

“When showing your home, you want the buyers to visualise living there, so have pot plants filled with flowers to give it some colour and the lawn mowed to make it look tidy,” suggests Celeste Hannah from Hamilton Parkers in Hampshire. “First impressions count, and in the spring and summer months, you want to show your garden off to its full potential. This will definitely add perceived value and gives you a better chance to maximise the selling price.”


Pretty Garden with trees


3. Focus on what is seen first 

Struggling for time or budget? Start where your potential buyer will start and focus on this area. 

“Never forget kerb appeal, and, more relevant in the online age, photo appeal. The first impression really does count, so always start with the front garden,” says Martin Moore from Morris Marshall & Poole in Wales. 


4. Add a key selling point 

A well-maintained garden will make sure a buyer is not put off your property, but something more can make them want to buy your property above any others they have seen. 

“A nice summer house is a garden goal for many people,” says Phil Pritchard from Williams & Goodwin in North Wales. “It often feels like an extra room away from the main property and can be utilised as anything from a place to relax, an office, a man cave or a playroom for the children.” 

There are ways to maximise the impact of an existing summer house, too. “If you have a summer house, it is worth making sure the wood has been treated so that it is weather proof and you can easily give it a face lift by adding a touch of colour,” suggests Andrew Lodge from Andrew Lodge Estate Agents in Surrey. “There are so many good quality garden paints available in neutral tones.”

Don’t forget the impact that a child’s opinion may have on the decision makers, advises John Newhouse from Roseberry Newhouse in North Yorkshire. “Buyers may love the idea of a summerhouse or man cave, and of course children will be drawn to tree houses or play areas.” 

Simon Miller at Holroyd Miller suggests caution, though. “The truth is that some people like hot tubs or summer houses and some don’t. Additions of this kind shouldn’t be thought of in terms of re-sale, however, well looked-after and presented in the right way, they will certainly present something unique and a lifestyle image that potential buyers can see the value in.”


5. Add some shed-quarters 

Sheds are not only practical, but they are coming back into fashion. They can be used from anything as a useful place to store bikes and lawnmowers to a garden retreat. 

“By putting up a good-sized shed, you are adding a useful storage space for gardeners and families with outdoor furniture and even toys,” says Andrew Lodge. 

Many people choose to work from home, and an insulated shed could provide the perfect home office. John Newhouse says: “Additional space in the shape of pods, studios or cabins provide potential work space options for house hunters.” 


Painting a garden fence


6. A little paint goes a long way 

If you’re looking to spend less to add value to your property, don’t underestimate the impact of a good coat of paint on fences, sheds and other wood in the garden. 

“Adding value to your home through the garden doesn’t have to break the bank. If you have decking or a perimeter fence, you could freshen it up with a coat of paint. If the garden is presentable it will be more attractive to viewers and could increase the price a potential buyer is willing to pay for your home,” suggests Jared Thomas from Emsleys Estate Agents in West Yorkshire. 


7. Think about the patio 

“We recommend investing in good quality patio, paving or decking,” says Andrew Lodge. “Having a professional job done will enhance the overall appearance of your outside space. Decent sized patio and decking areas add value as they are great for entertaining and alfresco dining. Adding some good lighting outside will also enable people to make the most of the garden on those long summer nights.”


8. Style your garden with furniture 

You wouldn’t show a room to a potential buyer without any furniture in it, so why show a garden without a table and chairs? 

“Depending on the size of the garden and who it will appeal to, ensure that the lawns are cut or the terrace is swept and ideally have the garden furniture set up so buyers can imagine themselves sitting out enjoying an al fresco evening,” said John Newhouse. 


small dog in garden


9. Secure the garden 

If the people viewing the house have pets, they will want to see a garden that is fully secured to avoid an escaped dog. 

“It is important that you invest in secure fencing, walls or gates,” advises Andrew Lodge. “People like to feel secure in their gardens so that they can relax. It also makes the garden more appealing to those with young children and pets.”


10. Make it private 

If your home is overlooked by other homes or gardens, it’s a good idea to give the idea of privacy to the garden. If it isn’t too expensive, add hedges or trees in key spots. It will make the potential buyers be able to imagine themselves enjoying a peaceful afternoon outside in the summer. 

Susie Davies advises that ornamental trees have a pleasing, aesthetic effect in a garden.