Thursday, 24 September 2015

My concerns about the Epsom Property market

I am genuinely concerned about the Epsom property market, but in a way that might surprise you. Rightmove announced that average ‘asking prices’ fell last month by 0.4% in the South East, leaving them 5.8% higher than a year ago. Whilst it could be said that monthly change is very modest, in the same period a year ago, we saw a monthly fall of 0.6% in the South East, which is more the norm given the onset of schools breaking up and everyone going on holiday.

Looking at all the data on the Epsom property market; putting aside the need for more houses to be built in the next decade to balance out the increase in population (helped in part by inward European migration) but not matched by a similar increase in housing being built; my research shows there is a widening gap between what property buyers want and what is available to buy. In a nutshell, many more buyers are looking for the smaller one and two bed properties (the typical semi detached and smaller terraced houses/apartments), whilst there is an oversupply of the four and five bed properties, which are the typical large detached properties available.

Demand for smaller properties comes from both first time buyers and the growing number of buy to let landlords, where it is more cost effective and efficient to buy smaller properties to let out compared to larger properties which tend to offer poorer returns. Also, landlords with larger loans (on those larger more expensive properties) will also be hit harder with the changes in the way tax is paid on buy to let investments, which start in 2017.

If you recall, a few weeks ago I did some research on how different types of properties had performed in Epsom since the year 2000. I revisited those calculations and it hit me how different types of properties had performed over the last 15 years. In a nutshell, this mismatch of demand and supply isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s been happening under our noses for years!

In the last 15 years, the average terraced house in Epsom has risen in value from £126,371 to £399,439 whilst the detached house has risen in value from £295,097 to £816,357. Nothing seems amiss until you look at the percentage growth. The terraced has grown in value by 216% whilst the detached by only 177% meaning the gap between the inexpensive terrace’s and expensive detached properties has in percentage terms narrowed enormously (this isn’t just an Epsom thing, it has happened all across the Country).

I am concerned because more houses need to be built, not only in Epsom, but in the South East and the UK as a whole. In particular, there is specific need for more affordable starter homes for the growing demand from both tenants (and the landlords that will buy them) and first time buyers. The Tories need to face up to the fact that unless they can get the builders, the planners (to release more building land), the banks (to finance it) and themselves together, to ensure long term plans can be made, and implemented, this issue will continue to worsen.

The country needs 200,000 houses a year to be built to keep up with demand, let alone reverse the imbalance between demand and supply. Last year, only 141,040 properties were built, the year before 135,510 and 146,850 in the year before that. This means only one thing for Epsom landlords. Unless David Cameron starts to rip up huge swathes of the British countryside and build on acres and acres of green belt, demand will always exceed supply when it comes to property for the foreseeable future.

Therefore, investment in the local Epsom property market as a buy to let investment could be the best move to make as the stock market investments are possibly on the wane. Everyone is different and trust me, there are many pitfalls in buy to let. You must take lots of advice and seek out the best opinion. One source of opinion, specific to the Epsom property market is here at the Epsom Property Blog or you can email me direct at ian@directresidential.co.uk.

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