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With constant advances in technology, medicine and lifestyles, people in the Docklands area are, on average, living longer than they might have a few decades ago. As Docklands' population ages, the problem of how the older generation are accommodated is starting to emerge. We, as an area, have to consider how we supply decent and appropriate accommodation for Docklands’ growing older generation’s accommodation needs while still offering a lifestyle that is both modern and desirable.
In 1997 in Docklands, one in every nine people (11%) were aged 65 years and over (and the local authority area as a whole), this decreased to around one in every 16 people (6%) in 2017 but it is projected to increase from this to reach one in every ten people (10%) by 2037, meaning..
Over the next 19 years, the growth of the over 65 population in Docklands will grow by 66.7% - a lot more than the overall growth population of Docklands of 27.6% over the same time frame.
In fact, the number of those over 90 is expected to nearly double in our local authority from 811 (0.3%) in 2017 to 1,540 (0.4%) by 2037.
And looking at the proportional percentage changes over those years..
Looking at Docklands and the local authority as a whole, there is a distinct under supply of bungalows and retirement living (i.e. sheltered) accommodation. The majority of sheltered accommodation fit for retirement is in the ex-local authority sector whilst the majority of private sector bungalows were built in the 1960s/70s/80s and are beginning to show their age (although that means there is often an opportunity for Docklands investors and Docklands buy to let landlords to buy a tired bungalow, do it up and flip it/rent it out).
In the medium to longer term, we need to build more bungalows and sheltered accommodation and, if we do that, that won’t only be of benefit to the elderly population of Docklands – it will have a direct knock-on effect to the younger and middle-aged population by unlocking those family homes the older generation homeowners live in.  
There have been 17 Housing Ministers since 1997. No one ever seems to stay in the job long enough to create a consensus and direction in Government Policy on the vital issue of the country’s housing shortage, yet the sound bites and White Papers seem only to focus exclusively on first-time buyers when there is an even more severe and disregarded shortage in suitable housing for the older generation.
This scantiness affects both mature homeowners trapped in unsuitably big family properties, unable to find smaller bungalows or suitable retirement apartments, whilst the waiting list for Council sheltered accommodation is putting a strain on other aspects of social care. In both circumstances, policy coming (or not coming) out of Government is repressing the supply and type of accommodation mature people desire, need and want, whilst at the same time, increasing the cost (and taxes) for social and NHS care.

Maybe we need tax breaks for people to downsize or planning permissions that stipulate bungalows only. Whichever way you look .. there are challenging times ahead for us all.

It’s now commonly agreed amongst economists and the general public that the dramatic rise in Docklands property prices of the last six years has come to an end.
Read the National newspapers, and they talk of doom and gloom in the British housing market with such things as strained buyer affordability (as property prices have increased over the past six years at a far faster pace than average salaries), a lack of new properties being built and the Brexit uncertainties over the last two and half years being blamed for the slow down - yet in the last 12 months, people have still been moving, buying and selling in Docklands at levels similar to the last six years - something tells me we have a case of ‘bad news selling newspapers’.
So instead, let me share with you what, exactly, is happening in the Docklands property market, and more specifically, who is moving and why in Docklands. Most of the sales in Docklands over the past twelve months were flats, which on average sold for £503,600. Terraced properties had an average sold price of £589,100 and semi-detached properties averaged at £561,050.
In Docklands, in the homeowner sector in 2018 (i.e. owner occupation), 279 households moved within the tenure (i.e. sold the home they owned and bought another one) and 54 new households were created (i.e. they moved from living with family/friends and bought their first home without privately renting).
Docklands Home Movers in 2018
Moved from Owner Occupation to Private Rented
102
Moved from Private Rented to Owner Occupation
130
Owner Occupation to Social Housing
14
Straight to Owner Occupation
54
Left Owner Occupation (i.e. Household Ended)
67
Owner Occupation to Owner Occupation
279
 

What does this mean for Docklands buy to let landlords? Well looking at the graph, it appears bad news for landlords. There were 130 households that moved into the home owning (owner occupation) tenure from the private rented sector, whilst on the other side of the coin, 102 Docklands households moved to the private rented sector from owner occupation … which appears on the face of it, a reduction in the private sector.
My research has calculated that in 2018, an additional 135 new households in the Docklands private rental sector were created
...and it will continue to grow at those levels for the foreseeable future.
I have one final thought and opportunity for you Docklands property investors. 67 owner occupied households in Docklands sold in last year where the homeowners had passed away. These properties can be a potential goldmine and offer great returns. The reason being is some members of the older generation who have owned these homes for decades have spent money on high capital items (double glazing / central heating etc.) but not spent money on more superficial low-ticket items such as up to date carpets, kitchen, bathroom and decorating (vital if you want to sell your property for top dollar). These properties can often be bought cheaply because most buyers can’t see past the avocado or brown bathroom suite from the 1970’s and the dated decor, so if you were to buy wisely and do the works, you could sell it on for a healthy profit.

So, whatever is happening in the world with Brexit, Trump, China, and the Stock Market … the Docklands housing market is in decent shape for the medium to long term. If we do have small corrections in values in the next 12 to 18 months, in the long term, house prices have always returned ... and returned with vengeance. Like I say to anyone buying a property, be they a first time buyer, landlord or homeowner ... property is a long game ... and if you play the long game, you will always win (although isn’t that true in most aspects of life?).

I just love looking over and keeping up to date the 108 pieces of legislation that govern the rental of residential property in the UK”  

...No Docklands Landlord, ever

If you are one of the 4,901 Docklands landlord’s that manages your own property, would it surprise you to know that there are 108 separate pieces of legislation that govern the rental of private houses to tenants. Oh, and on top of the 108 pieces of law, there are further 300+ regulations in the mix. Whilst Docklands landlords may once have preferred to manage their Docklands buy-to-let properties themselves to boost their profits, many Docklands landlords are starting to see this as a false economy.

In the last four years, an additional 1,885 landlords in Docklands have converted from self-managed to having their property managed by a letting agent in Docklands, taking the total number of properties under management in Docklands to 7,666 (out of a total of 12,567 private rental properties in Docklands).

Now, don’t get me wrong, self-managing your Docklands rental property can be a very fulfilling experience, allowing you, as a Docklands landlord, to build a deep relationship with your tenant and your emergency 24 hour plumber, builder (happy to do small jobs at a drop of a hat), decorators, first name terms with their deposit provider, lawyer and EPC provider to name but a few. (Wow!)

Also, did you know if your tenants deposit isn’t registered, or doesn’t continue to be registered after the end the periodic tenancy upon renewal ... you could be fined up to three times your deposit? With the average rental deposit in Docklands being £2,328, each self-managed landlord in Docklands could be fined £6,984 per tenancy if the deposit isn’t currently registered. Therefore...

...if every deposit of every Docklands self-managed landlord’s property wasn’t registered, the total fines would amount to £34,229,492

Now of course, I am not suggesting for one minute all the self-managed landlords of Docklands haven’t registered their deposits, yet almost on a daily basis, I come across horror stories to that effect. Another two (but by no means all) hot issues that the Courts are cracking down on, are doing immigration ‘Right To Rent’ checks on all tenants (yes all tenants) and confirmation proving the tenant received the ‘How to Rent’ guide. If that second issue cannot be proved (a ‘sent’ email won’t suffice), the landlord cannot serve the section 21 Notice, meaning the tenant cannot be served notice to vacate the property.

To many, it’s really a case of DIY or getting a qualified professional in … as those additional Docklands landlords mentioned above have done since 2014. You might say, “Of course you are going to say all this – you are a Letting Agent”. Well the choice really comes down to your time and your knowledge. If a Docklands landlord is not equipped, or able, to devote time keeping up-to-date of legislation and law nor doesn’t want to be bothered 24/7/365 about a blown light bulb, dripping taps, have that confrontational conversation with their tenants about missing rental payments, or arbitrate arguments and disagreements between your tenant and the neighbours, it is perhaps better to pass this accountability/responsibility onto a letting agent.

One thing I would say is all letting agents aren’t the same. Would it surprise you to know that letting agents aren’t regulated?

Docklands landlords that do use a letting agent should not forget that passing over management to a letting agent doesn’t mean they can disregard legislation and they are still responsible for deposit/rent repayment legal directives, civil fines or action if the letting agent makes a mistake. Therefore, it’s important to pick a respectable letting agent from the start.

Nevertheless, for those Docklands landlords that see their job as a professional landlord and want to be intricately involved in the day to day administration of their rental properties, it can be worthy pursuit.

If you are a self-managed landlord in Docklands, and want to know if your paperwork is in order please feel free to drop me a line and I am more than happy to do an ‘MOT’ on it to ensure you are the right side of the law.

 

A few months ago, I wrote an article on the Docklands Property Blog about the length of time it took to sell a property in Docklands and the saleability of the different price bands (i.e. whether the lower/middle or upper local property markets were moving slower or quicker than the others). For reference, a few months ago it was taking on average 92 days from the property coming on the market for it to be sold subject to contract (and that was based on every Estate Agent in Docklands) … and today … 162 days  .. does that surprise you with what is happening in the UK economy?
Well, a number of Docklands landlords and homeowners, who are looking to sell in the coming months, contacted me following that article to enquire what difference the type of property (i.e. Detached/Semi/Terraced/Apartment) made to saleability and also the saleability of property by the number of bedrooms) As I have said before, whether you are a Docklands landlord looking to liquidate your buy to let investment or a homeowner looking to sell your home; finding a buyer and selling your property can take an annoyingly long time… but anything you can do to mitigate that is helpful to everyone.
So, I did some research on the whole of the Docklands property market .. and these were my findings …  to start with by type (i.e. Detached/Semi/Terraced/Apartment)….
As you can see, the star players are the semi-detached variant of Docklands property, whilst terraced/town houses seem to be sticking in Docklands.
Next I looked at what the number of bedrooms does to the saleability of Docklands property..
… and as you can see the four bed properties seem to be taking the longest time to sell ..and to answer the question in the title .. it’s two bed properties!
So, what does this mean for Docklands buy-to-let landlords and homeowners?  
There is no doubt that there is a profusion of properties on the market in Docklands compared to 18 months ago … it’s not because more houses are coming on to the market, it’s because they are also taking a little longer to sell. This makes it slightly more a buyer’s market than the seller’s market we had back in 2014/5/6. Therefore, in some sectors of the Docklands property market, it is much tougher to sell, especially if you want tosell your Docklands home fast.

Therefore, to conclude, on the run up to the New Year, if you are looking to buy and plan to stay in the buy to let market a long time, perhaps take a look at the Docklands properties that are sticking as there could be some bargains to be had there? Want to know where they are .. drop me a line and I will tell you a nifty little trick to find all the properties that are sticking.

 

What is it to be British? Our stubbornness, long-suffering stoicism, our vexation at injustice, our obsession with football and rugby, we are weather obsessed external awkward noncommittal modest people whilst underneath seething like a volcano because someone jumped the queue….. and our No.1 obsession is with the property ladder.
This ‘love affair’ with owning our own home has been both good and bad for the UK as a whole; giving people financial freedom in their later years whilst also reducing the quantity (and quality) of housing provision whilst adding the extra pressure of a ‘them and us’ society. Strong words I know .. but let me explain more.
I honestly believe that most Governments since the end of the 1970’s, Conservative and Labour, have attempted to nourish our addiction to home ownership (to keep the housing market on track) with the Council House Right to Buy sell off in the 1980’s, tax relief of mortgages, relaxation of the mortgage rules in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s and most recently, the Help to Buy scheme.
But the Brits haven’t always had this obsession.
Roll the clock back 100 years and, in 1918, just under a quarter of all Brits owned their own homes and the other 77% rented. Go back 50 years to 1968, and only 46% of people owned their own home, the rest rented. This homeownership thing is quite a recent phenomenon.
According to my research, anyone looking to get a foot onto the property ladder as a first-time buyer in Docklands today, AS A SINGLE PERSON, would need to spend 11.3 times their earnings on a Docklands first time buyer property.
Using the numbers from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the average value of a first-time buyer property in Docklands today is £370,000, compared to £221,000 in 2007. If we divide those property values by the average annual earnings of first time buyers - in 2007, that was £28,764 pa and that has risen to £32,603 pa .. giving us the ratio of 11.3 to 1.
However, what must be remembered is that these are raw statistics from the ONS and don’t take into account other factors, like most people buy their first home as a couple. Also, mortgage rates are at an all-time low and who can remember mortgage rates of 15%+ in the 1990’s, meaning borrowing today is relatively cheap. Also, 95% Loan to Value first time buyer mortgages have been available since the end of 2009  (i.e. you only need to save a 5% deposit) and first time buyer rates of 2.19% fixed for 5 years can be obtained (correct at time of writing this article)… it is cheaper to buy than rent .. fact!
I believe there has been a mind-set change to owning a home. Home ownership was the goal of the youngsters in the latter half of the 20th century. Britain is changing to a more European model of homeownership, where people rent in early to mid-life, wait to inherit the money from their parents when in their 50’s and then buy.. thus continuing the circle - albeit in a different way to the last Century.

This means the demand for privately rented accommodation will, in the long term, only continue to grow. If you would like to know more about where the hot spots are for that growth in Docklands, then one place would be my property blog http://www.docklandspropertyblog.com or if you want to drop me an email or telephone call, feel free to pick my brain on the best places to buy (and not to buy) in Docklands to ensure your rental investment gets you want you want. The choice is yours!
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