As I have mentioned a number times in my local property market blog, with not enough new-build properties being built in Leighton Buzzard and the surrounding area to keep up with demand for homes to live in (be that tenants or homebuyers), it’s good to know more Leighton Buzzard home sellers are putting their properties on to the market than a year ago.
At the start of 2007 there were 441 properties for sale in Leighton Buzzard but by May 2008, when the credit crunch was really beginning to bite, that number had risen to 790 properties on the market at a time when demand was at an all-time low, thus creating an imbalance in the local property market.
Basic economics dictates that if there is too much supply of something and demand is poor (which it was in the Credit Crunch years of 2008/9) … prices will drop. In fact, house prices dropped between 15% and 20% depending on the type of Leighton Buzzard property between the end of 2007 and Spring 2009.
However, over the last five years, we have seen a steady decrease in supply of properties coming onto the market for sale and steady demand, meaning Leighton Buzzard property prices have remained robust. A stable housing market is one of the foundations of a successful British economy, as it’s all about getting the healthy balance of buyer demand with a good supply of properties. Nevertheless, if you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said we were beginning to see there was in fact NOT enough properties coming on to the market for sale … meaning in certain sectors of the Leighton Buzzard property market, house prices were overheating because of this lack of supply.
So, it is pleasing to note, looking at the recent numbers …
There are 34% more properties for sale in Leighton Buzzard today than a year ago
There were 213 properties for sale 12 months ago, and today that stands at 285. Definitely a step in the right direction to a more stable property market.
Even better news, since the Chancellor announced the stamp duty rule changes for first time buyers (FTB), my fellow agents in Leighton Buzzard say that the number of FTB’s registering on the majority of agent’s books has increased year on year. That has still to follow through into more FTB’s buying their first home, however, with the heightened levels of confidence being demonstrated by both Leighton Buzzard house sellers and potential house buyers, I do foresee the Leighton Buzzard Property Market will show steady yet sustained improvement during the first half of 2018.
What does this mean for Leighton Buzzard landlords or those considering dipping their toe into the buy to let market for the first time? Landlords will need to keep improving their properties to ensure they get the best tenants. It is true that demand amongst FTB’s is increasing, albeit from a low base. Even with the new landlord tax rules, buy to let in Leighton Buzzard still looks a good investment, providing Leighton Buzzard landlords with a good income at a time of low interest rates and a roller coaster stock market.
If you are thinking of investing in bricks and mortar in Leighton Buzzard, it is important to do things correctly as making money won’t be as easy as it has been over the last twenty years. With a greater number of properties on the market .. comes greater choice. Don’t buy the first thing you see, buy with your head as well as your heart … and don’t forget the first rule of Buy To Let Investment …..
I will tell you that 1st rule in a couple of weeks!
The value of all the homes in Leighton Buzzard has risen by more than 256% in the past two decades, to £4.647bn, meaning its worth more than the stock listed company Melrose Industries, which is worth £4.379bn.
Those Leighton Buzzard homeowners and Buy-to-Let landlords who bought their homes twenty or more years ago have come out on top, adding thousands and thousands of pounds to the value of their own Leighton Buzzard homes as the younger generation in Leighton Buzzard continue to be priced out of the market. This is even more remarkable because, in those twenty years, we had the years of 2008 and 2009 following the global financial crisis, where we saw a short term drop in Leighton Buzzard house prices of between 15% and 20% (depending on the type of property). And although there have been a number of consecutive years of growth in property values recently in Leighton Buzzard it hasn’t been anywhere near the levels seen in the early 2000’s.
Twenty years ago, the total value of Leighton Buzzard property was worth £1.302bn. Over those twenty years, total property values have increased by £3.345bn, meaning today, the total value of all the properties in Leighton Buzzard is worth £4.647bn. Even more remarkable, when you consider the FTSE100 has only risen by 40.84% in the same time frame. Also, when I compared it with inflation, i.e. the UK Retail Price Index, inflation had risen by 72.2% during the same twenty years.
So, what does this all mean for Leighton Buzzard? Well as we enter the unchartered waters of 2018 and beyond, even though property values are already declining in certain parts of the previously over cooked central London property market, the outlook in Leighton Buzzard remains relatively good as over the last five years, the local property market has been a lot more sensible than central London’s.
Leighton Buzzard house values will remain resilient for several reasons. Firstly, demand for rental property remains strong with persistent immigration and population growth. Secondly, with 0.25% interest rates, borrowing has never been so cheap and finally, the simple lack of new house building in Leighton Buzzard. Not even keeping up with current demand, let alone eating into years and years of under investment mean only one thing – yes it might be a bumpy ride over the next 12 to 24 months but, in the medium term, property ownership and property investment in Leighton Buzzard has and always will, out ride out the storm.
In the coming weeks, I will look in greater detail at my thoughts for the 2018 Leighton Buzzard Property Market.
Buying and selling a home in Leighton Buzzard or Dunstable isn’t the easiest or cheapest thing you will ever do. Estate Agent fees, Solicitors fees, Survey fees, Mortgage fees, Removal Van … the costs just mount up throughout every step of the move. Last week, a Leighton Buzzard landlord asked me whether the Council Tax Band made a difference to a property’s appeal, be it tenanted or to owner occupiers, when it comes to being sold on the open market and whether extensions or improvements made a difference to the tax banding?
Well, like I said, the first point you should always be aware of is what Council Tax Band your new house or apartment will fall under. Being aware of this before you buy/move will help when planning month by month for life in your home (or investment). But what exactly are Council Tax Bands, and how do they affect landlords/tenants/homebuyers?
How much Council Tax you pay depends on two variables. The first is which Council Tax Band your property is in. A property is placed into a specific band depending upon what the value of the property was in April 1991 – the date when the tax band system was applied. In a nutshell, what your property is worth today has no relevance whatsoever to your banding.
Council Tax Bands have a letter of the alphabet and range from bands A-H.
The Council Tax Band values are:
Band A – up to £40,000
Band B – £40,001 to £52,000
Band C – £52,001 to £68,000
Band D – £68,001 to £88,000
Band E – £88,001 to £120,000
Band F – £120,001 to £160,000
Band G – £160,001 to £320,000
Band H – more than £320,000
So, for example, if a property sold for £110,000 in April 1991 but is now worth £350,000 it will remain in Band E – NOT Band H), as this was the value when the bands were set in 1991. For new homes, the same thing applies: they are valued based on the 1991 market value. This safeguards that all homes and all buyers are treated equally and consistently. The second factor that determines how much Council Tax you pay is what each individual local authority decides each band will pay in Council Tax. (So for example, a householder/tenant in Leeds in a Band E property will pay a different amount in Council Tax each year to someone in Swindon or North London in Band E).
Interestingly, the average current level of Council tax paid by Leighton Buzzard or Dunstable people stands at £1,547 per annum, up from £472 in 1993 (although if it had risen by inflation in those 25 years .. today that should only be £766) … meaning Council Tax has outstripped inflation by 72.34%. So the only way you can change the amount you pay in Council Tax is your banding i.e. you physically move to a higher or lower band.
Contrary to what most people think, extensions and improvements do not change the Council Tax Band and existing householders/tenants only have to pay the same Council Tax as they would have without any extensions and improvements. However, the Valuation Office (The Government’s Property Valuers) do reserve the right to re-value the extended property if the property gets sold. If you are a potential buyer, you should be aware of this review as it could change the amount of Council Tax you pay after the purchase. If a higher band is necessary, the new band will be based on what the extended property would have been expected to sell for in 1991. However, this does not necessarily mean that the banding will jump one band, as this is contingent on the extent of the changes and whether the property falls towards the top or bottom of its existing band. More often than not – it isn’t an issue and the banding stays the same.
In terms of which band the property is in, this can be challenged. In my experience in the Leighton Buzzard & Dunstable property market the only issue is one where there is an anomaly with the banding, when one property is in a different band to all the others in the street. This is much rarer than it used to be, as most such anomalies have been found and rectified. Anyone can check the banding of any property by going to Google and typing in “Check My Council Tax Banding”. I do need to mention a thoughtful warning though. Challenging your Council Tax Band is not something to do on a whim for one simple fact - you cannot request your band to be lowered, only 'reassessed', which means your band could be moved up as well as down. I have even heard of neighbouring properties band’s being increased by someone appealing, although this is the exception. I myself realised a few years ago that of the 58 houses on my road mine was one of only 3 in band E and all the others were Band D. Having realised if reassessed back to band D I could claim a refund stretching back 17 years I approached the Valuation Office. They confirmed that it was more likely all the band D house could be reassess as band E making me very unpopular on my road so my claim stopped there.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
Daniel Bourke (Owner Belvoir Dunstable & Leighton Buzzard)
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