During my school years (and that was a while ago...), I recall people constantly moving. From research I have carried out it shows things have changed considerably in Epsom over the last few decades, and interestingly, the trend is getting worse ... for the removal van people at any rate!
In Epsom, at the moment there are 12,641 properties. However, after we remove the 1,386 council
houses, 2,450 privately rented houses and 148 houses where the occupants live rent free, that
leaves us with 8,657 owned properties (be that 100% outright, with a mortgage or shared
ownership). This means 68.5% of the properties in Epsom are occupied by the owner (the national
average is interestingly 64.2%) but the number of people who have sold and moved house in Epsom,
over the last 12 months, has only been 1,164. This means on these figures, the homeowners of
Epsom are only moving on average every 7.43 years.
These are the reasons. Firstly, the cost of moving house has risen over the last twenty years.
Secondly, with many remortgaging their properties in the mid 2000’s before the price crash of 2008,
there is a reluctance or inability in a small minority of homeowners to finance a home sale/purchase,
due to lack of equity. These are both factors driving fewer moves by existing homeowners.
However, the big effect has been the change in house price inflation. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s,
house prices were doubling every 5 to 7 years. Even in Greater London, with its stratospheric
property price increases over the last few years, it has taken 13 years (August 2002 to be exact) for
property values to double to today’s levels.
This change to a relatively low inflation Epsom property market (i.e. Epsom property values not
rising quickly) is significant because the long term consequences of sustained low house price
growth is that it eats into mortgage debt more slowly than when property price inflation is higher.
Epsom homeowners cannot rely on inflation to shrink their debt in real terms as much as they did in
say the 1970’s and 1980’s.
So what does this all mean for Epsom buy to let landlords? Well for the same reasons existing Epsom
homeowners aren’t moving, less ‘twenty something’s’ are buying their first home as well. Epsom
youngsters may aspire to own their own home, but without the social pressure from their peers and
parents to buy their first property as soon people reach their early 20’s, the memory of the 2008
housing crisis and the belief the hard times either aren't over or the worst is yet to come, current
and would-be homeowners are warming to the idea of renting. I also believe UK society has
changed, with the youngster’s wanting prosperity and happiness; but wanting it all now... instantly...
today... without the sacrifice, work and patience that these things take. As a society, we expect
things instantly, and if it doesn’t come easy, doesn’t come quick, (or free), some youngsters ask if it
is really worth the effort to save for the deposit? Why go without holidays, the newest iPhone,
socialising four times a week and the fancy satellite package for a couple of years, to save for that
5% deposit if there is no longer a social stigma in renting or pressure to buy as there was... say... a
Even though, in real terms, property prices are 5% cheaper than they were ten years ago (when
adjusted by inflation), 19.4% of Epsom properties are privately rented (nearly double it was twenty
years ago). As a result, the demand for rental properties continues to grow from tenants, meaning
those wishing to invest in the buy to let market, over the long term, might be on to a good thing?