Friday, 28 August 2020

The 4,673 ‘Trapped Landlords’ of Warrington



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 buy to let landlords must also now give their tenants six months notice to gain possession.

Cue crocodile tears for all the 4,673 Warrington landlords 

Not so ‘snappy’ with piping your eye there. I know many Warrington 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 Warrington 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 Warrington tenants in financial trouble during Covid-19 by acquiescing to short-term rent reductions or rent-payment holidays.

Also, many Warrington 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 less than 1% 

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 Warrington 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 
1,313 self-managing Warrington 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 Warrington homeowners who were unable to sell their home in 2008/9, so they converted their Warrington property into a buy to let investment. There are going to be an awful lot of Warrington 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 Warrington landlords that can relate to that, maybe we should chat to consider your options so you can mitigate any losses?

It seems Warrington 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.

Warrington landlords are housing 18,046 Warrington 
people in private rented accommodation… 

…and so, it is my opinion the contribution made by these Warrington 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 Warrington going forward when you consider…

Warrington needs an additional 3,510 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 Warrington, 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.



If you are looking for an agent that is well established, professional and communicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your property.

Email me on manoj@hamletwarrington.co.uk or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on G5, Warrington Business Park, Long Lane, WA2 8TX. There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH YOUR WARRINGTON HOME IS WORTH FOR FREE

Follow The Buy-To-Let Property Investment Market in Warrington

Warrington Property Market LinkedIn Page

Hamlet Homes Estate Agents Warrington Facebook Page

Hamlet Homes Estate Agents Warrington Twitter Page







Monday, 24 August 2020

How To Not Lose £20,000 Of The Value Of Your Warrington Home

 

Talking of price, or more specifically the asking price. There is a window of opportunity for Warrington 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 Warrington 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 Warrington 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 Warrington home, it will cost those Warrington 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 Warrington 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 Warrington home, make sure your Warrington estate agent can show you proof of similar Warrington 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 Warrington home, please do not hesitate to pick up the telephone.



If you are looking for an agent that is well established, professional and communicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your property.

Email me on manoj@hamletwarrington.co.uk or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on G5, Warrington Business Park, Long Lane, WA2 8TX. There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH YOUR WARRINGTON HOME IS WORTH FOR FREE

Follow The Buy-To-Let Property Investment Market in Warrington

Warrington Property Market LinkedIn Page

Hamlet Homes Estate Agents Warrington Facebook Page

Hamlet Homes Estate Agents Warrington Twitter Page




Friday, 14 August 2020

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



How will this affect the 102,856 Warrington 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 Warrington Borough 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.

91% of planning permissions in Warrington Borough 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 Warrington homeowners and Warrington landlords? If you have been reading my articles you will know that one of the most important factors holding back the Warrington property market is the lack of new properties being constructed and when they are, the lack of infrastructure surrounding them.

Since 1995, only 12,387 properties have been built in WA1-5

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 Warrington 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 house building, 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 Warrington 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 met the criteria).

With regard to what can be built and where, Warrington 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 Warrington homes we are proud of for our children and for Warrington generations to come.

Please do let me have your thoughts on this matter.



If you are looking for an agent that is well established, professional and communicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.
Email me on manoj@hamletwarrington.co.uk or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on G5, Warrington Business Park, Long Lane, WA2 8TX. There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH YOUR WARRINGTON HOME IS WORTH FOR FREE

Follow The Buy-To-Let Property Investment Market in Warrington

Warrington Property Market LinkedIn Page

Hamlet Homes Estate Agents Warrington Facebook Page

Hamlet Homes Estate Agents Warrington Twitter Page

Friday, 7 August 2020

Warrington OAP Homeowners to Face £13,314 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 Warrington 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 is, according to official figures, 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 Warrington OAP homeowners?

Warrington OAP homeowners own £3,481.29bn worth of property

Taking into account the average length of time those homeowners have been in their Warrington home, that is an ‘unearned’ profit of £2,633.85bn, or £1,393.57bn 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 Warrington had to pay a 10% capital gains tax when they (or their descendants) sold their Warrington home, that would cost them £13,314 each (or a total of £263.38m).

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 that the Government want another slice of the 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 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…





If you are looking for an agent that is well established, professional and communicative, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

Email me on manoj@hamletwarrington.co.uk or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on G5, Warrington Business Park, Long Lane, WA2 8TX. There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH YOUR WARRINGTON HOME IS WORTH FOR FREE

Follow The Buy-To-Let Property Investment Market in Warrington

Warrington Property Market LinkedIn Page

Hamlet Homes Estate Agents Warrington Facebook Page

Hamlet Homes Estate Agents Warrington Twitter Page