This part of Dunstable High Street is in desperate need of regeneration, but plans are in place to provide housing and new shop units
Most of the main roads in Dunstable have seen or are seeing redevelopment and empty shops filled with new businesses, but one road which has lagged behind the others is High Street South at the junction with Church Street in the centre of Dunstable.
The West side of the street is made up of small shop units, some with aspects to both High Street South and Middle Row Here there are 3 shop units that are now quite derelict and in serious need of improvement if only to smarten up the appearance of that row of shops.
On the opposite side of the road are 2 large distinct vacant buildings, a part refurbished building and a building that has recently been successfully converted from offices to apartments that would suit young professionals.
Starting from the corner of Church Street and High Street South is the old Dunstable Kitchens shop which has 4 or 5 one bedroom flats above. This was purchased at auction about 3 years ago and the owner started work on refurbishing the flats above and also applied for planning permission to add another flat in the roof space. Work stopped about 2 years ago and although I have spoken to the owner on a few occasions and put him in contact with fellow investors he is unsure when it will be complete.
A few doors along is what many in Dunstable will remember as the Woolworths store. A few years ago it reopened briefly as a Londis supermarket and has been closed since. This building was bought about 2 years ago and planning permission granted to demolish it and rebuild with smaller shop units and 26 apartments made up of 10 two bedroom apartments and 16 one bedroom apartments made possible by adding an extra floor to the new building.
Planning permission was granted in April 2015 and the owners recently sold the site. Our shop shares the same access drive to the rear of the site and in the last few weeks surveyors and ground investigations have taken place, so it looks like work might start soon.
Next door is Albion Buildings with William Hill bookmakers on the ground floor and 7 recently converted apartments on the 2 floors above.
A couple of doors further along is the old Moores store which closed in 2008. Planning permission was granted in 2014 to part demolish the building and build 4 flats and 5 houses whilst providing 2 shop spaces to the front. There has been no sign of any work starting yet, but with the high demand for property in Dunstable and the increasing improvements in the area with large companies such as Amazon locating here we expect to see something happening soon.
Once work starts and completes on these buildings it will bring much needed residential accommodation to the centre of Dunstable which in turn means more ‘locals’ to spend money in the local shops thereby encouraging more businesses to open in the shop units that are part of these developments. This is a good way of regenerating buildings such as these where the office space above is no longer required and should be encouraged by planners and the local communities.
The best deals are often the ones that are not on the market yet such as this development of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments in Dunstable town centre
My background in Architecture where I worked for Architects in London for 27 years, 21 of which were for a leading Architectural practice of that time has given me an advantage when talking to landlords and developers. I have a greater understanding of property and how buildings work and are constructed allowing me to offer advice gained from years of Experience.
In the last few years I have worked with a number of developers and one I have been working with recently is about to complete a conversion of a building in the centre of Dunstable into 1 and 2 bedroom apartments with parking.
Initially we were working on renting all of the apartments when they are ready, but now he is looking to place them on the market for sale first. He also has another larger development in Dunstable where work is due to start later this year.
The development which is about to complete is a mix of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments finished to a high standard. In reality the 1 bedroom apartments have 2 double bedrooms, but can only be sold as 1 bedroom apartments with a ‘study’ due to planning restrictions. From a rental perspective this will be a 2 bedroom apartment to rent.
The expected asking prices for these new 2 double bedroom apartments in the centre of Dunstable with parking will be from £165,000 - £175,000 and the expected rental value for new apartments in Dunstable with 2 double bedrooms would be £800+pcm.
I don’t do sales and concentrate fully on lettings so for me there is no momentary value in promoting the sales of these apartments, but I do enjoy working with developers, talking to landlords and developers about their properties and investments and helping them where I can. This is one of the reasons you will find me presenting at the Luton Property Investors Network (Luton PIN) meeting every month. I also highlight potential property that investors might be interested in and could enquire about before it comes to market.
If you would like some more information on this or would like to register with me so that I can inform you of other developments or interesting investment property that are on the market or coming to market please complete and submit the form below.
Why am I receiving more enquiries from Buy to Let investors? It’s not just because of the recently announced stamp duty rise.
The last 6 months has seen a large increase in the number of enquiries coming through our door from investors looking to purchase in Dunstable and the surrounding areas. This is mostly due to the affordability of property in the area and the demand from tenants. With the stamp duty changes due to start on 1st April many are also now trying to push their new purchases through before the deadline when the extra 3% stamp duty on Buy-to-Let purchases will hit them.
I welcome all investors who wish to visit the shop to talk about possible investment property in the area, the best places and properties to invest in and the likely rents achievable. This is why you will find me presenting the Lettings Update every month at the Luton Property Investors Network (PIN). (If you would like to attend for Free contact me for a voucher code)
Yesterday a landlord walked into our shop asking where the best place to purchase a 3 bedroom house in Dunstable was. He lives in Hemel Hempstead and the cost of purchasing a house in his area as an investment now makes it unaffordable and the rental yield is now too low because of this.
Like many landlords in London and Hertfordshire he is aware that he has been priced out of those areas by the cost of housing and therefore he has investigated the surrounding areas and realised that Dunstable and Houghton Regis offers good housing, at affordable prices, with a high tenant demand from local workers. The accessibility to the M1 is also appealing for workers who need to drive into London or use the M1 for work.
A quick check on Rightmove and there are eight 3 bedroom houses on the market at under £250,000 in Dunstable and 18 more between £250,000 to £300,000. His budget was up to £300,000 which gave him plenty of choice in the area. With rents for 3 bedroom houses generally ranging from £950pcm to £1,250pcm he was looking at a rental yield of at least 5% with no service charges or ground rent to consider.
Many investors are fixed on the type of property they wish to purchase as an investor and with that budget he could have considered purchasing a couple of 1 bedroom apartments.
At the moment in Dunstable a good modern 1 bedroom apartment will cost around £125,000 and will rent for £625pcm. Of course there would be service charges and ground rent to consider, but the demand and choice of tenants for 1 & 2 bedrooms is far higher than 3 bedroom houses and it is unlikely that both apartments would ever be empty at the same time reducing the amount of rent lost during void periods.
During writing this article I had a couple of ladies arrive who had an appointment booked for them by my colleague. I had no knowledge what the appointment was for and was surprised to find that they were looking to purchase a 1 bedroom property and their budget was £125,000. An opportune moment to show them the above text on my screen explaining exactly what they were looking for ! Having discussed the various 1 bedroom apartments on the market and the pitfalls of a couple they had just been given the details of by one of the Estate Agents they left much better informed and ready to do battle with the other agents. They will be emailing me links to any properties they have an interest in so that I can advise on their suitability as an investment.
Our friends at Deakin-White ( http://www.deakin-white.co.uk/ ) who opened in Dunstable in June and have been very successful in selling all the properties placed with them confirmed that the majority of their buyers are from London and they have established a tie-up with a London Agent to capture that market.
Luton Property Investors Network (PIN) Meeting – Tuesday 26th January.– FREE invite to this popular meeting of new and experienced landlords.
This first meeting of the year is always very popular so why not give yourself a great start to 2016, and book your place now.
There are lots of dynamic speakers lined up for you in 2016 giving you the must have information to boost your business. Each PIN meeting will have a speaker dedicated to helping you find the best strategy for you in 2016. They are not to be missed if you are thinking of starting out in property or just changing direction.
Our guest speakers are:
Christine Hertoghe - Finding the Best Property Strategy for You in 2016
Christine, our main speaker for the evening will explain how the Accelerator Flowchart by Simon Zutshi works so that when you find a deal you have got a much better understanding of what strategy to use and how to monetise the deal.
Cassie Hicks Kerr – Supercharge Your Property Business with Social Media
Cassie will explain how you can reach a wider audience and amplify your efforts with some simple (but powerful) social media tips. Cassie Hicks Kerr, who runs the award-winning Modern Marketing Spark (MMSpark.com) digital marketing agency, is herself a property investor and HMO Landlord and will be sharing some of the latest strategies for supercharging your business online.
What you’ll learn:
• Hot Tips You Can Action Today To Grow Your Property Business
• How To Use Social Media To Find Motivated Sellers, Tenants, JV Partners and New Deals
• Get On The Google Map And Blow Your Competitors Out Of The Water
Of course there will also be the usual great networking and opportunities to meet and share ideas with like-minded property people, both before the meeting starts when we serve coffee from 6pm, and then again during the break and after the meeting in the bar. So bring along plenty of business cards and arrive early so you not only get the best seat, but also have more time to meet the best people!
If it is your first time attending a PIN meeting you can use the code below for FREE entry
Click on this link: https://www.pinmeeting.co.uk/luton/
Click “Book using a voucher code”
Insert you contact details
Enter “belvoirluton” into voucher code box and click apply voucher button
Click, “Click Here to book your place now” - An email confirmation will be sent to you
When I have been presenting at the Luton PIN (Property Investors Network) every month I have been highlighting the increase I have witnessed in the last year of the property prices and rental prices in Dunstable and Houghton Regis.
The figures available from Zoopla for the last year confirm my observations showing that the house prices in Dunstable and Houghton Regis rose by 7.31% in the last 6 months compared to 4.88% for Luton, 5.91% for Leighton Buzzard and even outstripping London which only saw a 5.83% rise in house prices during that time. In the last 3 months of the year the house prices in Dunstable and Houghton Regis rose by 3.75%, marginally more than Leighton Buzzard at 3.70%, but significantly higher than Luton at 2.33%. Dunstable still out preformed London which saw a rise of 3.43% for the last 3 months of the year.
This improvement in the Dunstable and Houghton Regis housing market was there for all to see as demand from London buyers unable to afford the London house prices and rents have moved out past the other unaffordable areas like St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.
At the beginning of 2015 we could see the demand starting to increase and if you look at the figures from Zoopla for house price rises over the year it shows that for Dunstable and Houghton Regis it was only 6.5% compared to over 9% for Luton, Leighton Buzzard and London but in the last 6 months of the year the tables were turned with Dunstable and Houghton Regis out performing all three.
This is a trend we expect to continue as more London buyers and renters move to Dunstable and Houghton Regis and companies such as Amazon and Signature Flatbreads continue to expand this year.
If you would like to visit the Luton PIN meeting where you can network with other landlords/investors and listen to some leading speakers in the property industry email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I can email you the information including a free voucher for your first meeting.
Daniel Bourke is the owner of Belvoir Lettings Dunstable and in his previous career in Architecture he was an Associate in a leading London Architectural practice