Year of ‘Optimism’ ahead?

I was fortunate enough to witness Plymouth Argyle play so admirably against the mighty Liverpool FC last Wednesday night in the FA cup replay. Over 17,000 fans were willing the Green Army to level the cup tie and take the game into extra time – but alas it wasn’t to be. But what a great spectacle and event for the city. I came away from the match proud of what my City had done on the pitch and optimistic that the good showing against a stronger team can push Argyle onto promotion.

I like Optimism. I’d say personally I am typically an optimistic person and Mansbridge Balment are ambassadors of ‘Optimism’ if you like. We are also realists and will tell it how it is when needed to of course and 2017 is fraught with possible dangers for the housing market. Possible interest rate rises, ‘Brexit’ hanging around the corner looking to strike, but regardless of whether you voted to stay in or out in the last referendum, if you look for problems or potential reasons not to do something, you will find something.

There are those that could state that Liverpool only put out a ‘youth side’ albeit a few exceptions and Argyle couldn’t even beat them – but I’ve never been a person to listen to ‘nay-sayers’ and I always sail on the coat-tails of optimism. Having the right mind-set can get you a long way in life and it’s amazing how a change in mood can affect people’s attitude towards things.

Estate agency is no different. The appetite to move is typically enhanced when jobs and the economy are secure and people are at a good place in their life (a successful football team further enhances the feeling too of course!) The optimism of an exciting ‘new chapter’ can be a beautiful thing to be involved in.

We’re just waiting for the final property price data to come through from 2016 but our estimates still show strong numbers. Stats show that the market in Plymouth is changing compared to previous years. Based on Land Registry, Office of National Statistics and Resi-analytics trend information we estimate that 801 flats, 1815 terraces, 742 semi-detached and 290 detached properties were sold in Plymouth during 2016. Taking a longer-term property view against the last decade, sale levels in the City paint a promising picture moving ahead (see graph below).

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I’ve spent long enough in Estate Agency to know that there is no point worrying about things that are out of your control. The market is moving well. Although we’d always like more, our offices have a healthy stack of new properties and a list of eager new applicants have registered looking to purchase. Whatever the impending Brexit and the knock-on effect it brings, let’s be mindful of it and other things that may happen in the near future when making decisions, but not let it rule our life choices.

Now back to football and the prospect of Plymouth Argyle playing in the Premier League in 3 years time? Too optimistic? There were those who said they’d never get a draw against Liverpool in the first leg weren’t there?…

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Say ‘I love you’ in 2017.

Many times in the plymouthpropertynews I have commented on the varying stresses of selling homes in the City and how many homeowners fail from the outset by choosing ‘the wrong partner’ to start the house selling relationship with. It got me thinking about what makes a great relationship? Is it one that gives back what it takes? One that makes the other always feel wanted? Or one that simply works its hardest to make sure both sides don’t fall out of love with each other?

In estate agency terms, relationships have never been as important. A bad experience is so easily spread on social media channels and the wider internet that looking after the client (partner if you like) and not pretending to be something you are not, has never been such a priority.

Choosing the right partner from the outset is a totally different animal. For those thinking with both the heart and head it can be a joyous thing.

Meeting someone who has a plan, is confident, attractive (in a marketing sense of course) and who has proven success in what they do, means you’d be a lot more likely to achieve your ambitions – of a house sale in this instance, but you know what I mean!

January is typically a reflective time of year when we look back on the previous year’s achievements or learnings. This is perhaps more relevant for those people already on the market who remain unsold and perhaps unloved.

Often when a relationship has broken down there are few words exchanged and little can be said to heal the differences between a seller and agent when this has happened. If all else fails you can of course call the relationship off. If you as a seller have done all you can to help, keep to your part of the bargain if you like, but things still fail to improve (or move) – you have the chance to make choosing a new partner a reality and not just words of a proposed 2017 resolution.

Much is said about the power of words – this is especially the case when choosing a new estate agent. Words like ‘Trust’, ‘Guarantee’ and ‘Licensed’ go a long way to calm a few early jitters. Words like ‘Feedback’, ‘Plan’ and ‘Commitment’ can serve to re-assure along the house selling process.

Speaking on a personal note, our company does not sell every property we place onto the market, this is for a variety of reasons and those agents who say they do are perhaps ones you should steer clear of. Many properties do choose to change agents however and to prove it is successful, Mansbridge Balment’s two Plymouth Offices Sold over £10 million worth of Plymouth Property in 2016 that failed to sell with their original agent – so there is another way!

In 2017 a new start could be as simple as three little words if you are already trying to sell your home – ‘I’m leaving you’. Although initially daunting, it can feel liberating and eventually lead to three words everyone in a relationship wants to hear… ‘I love you’.

Often said to us agents when we inform vendors ‘You are Sold’, ‘I love you’ is something that makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Check your agency agreement for your own liabilities but if you are unhappy, make the right choice for you and your property in 2017.

Growth of the Private Rental Sector in Plymouth

The PRS (Private Rental Sector) in the UK has grown considerably in both size and importance over the last five years and is now worth a staggering £1.29 trillion. To contextualise, that is 1.29 million stacks of pound coins, with each stack being a million coins high. The PRS now makes up 18% of the housing stock in England alone and is expected to rise to more than a third by 2032.

Because of this rampant growth, it is no surprise to see that 28.6% of homes in Plymouth are privately rented, which is encouraging for private landlords and would-be investors. Even homeowners have something to think about, as they may be tempted to turn the family home into a source of income, or indeed use their pension pot to become a landlord.

A decade ago, buying a home was a very different experience. Post-credit crunch the landscape in Plymouth has changed, with many younger people unable to buy their own homes due to house price growth outpacing wages. This has made it both logical and practical for many people to rent, choosing between renting privately or using the options available from the local housing association.

10 years ago, of the 61,910 households in Plymouth, around 47,480 were owner-occupied. Today the number of households in Plymouth has risen to 68,270, with the number of owner-occupied properties falling to 47,060. In 2001, only 13,750 properties were rented by private tenants compared to 2011’s figure of 19,530 — an increase of 42.1%.

Long gone are the days when tenants viewed rented accommodation as a stopgap; today many renters are in it for the long haul, often taking initial two-year contracts and sometimes staying for up to five years or longer. While this is ultimately good news for private landlords wanting to minimise void periods, it also means that tenants have higher expectations and are more discerning about their rented homes. They are inclined to pay that little bit extra to get exactly what they desire from a home, and landlords will need to ensure their properties are in the best condition possible if they are going to maximise their return.

There is certainly a benefit for landlords who run their property portfolios as a business; the attention to detail that comes from this approach will help mitigate the expected refurbishment losses from reduced tax relief in the years ahead. The reduction in tax relief from 45% to 20% will affect buy-to-let landlord investors over the next few years and probably put some people off becoming landlords. However, the ones who are savvy and make the most informed decisions will continue to prosper in the PRS.

Looking ahead, we expect the recent changes to stamp duty on second homes to create a small increase in the proportion of owner-occupiers relative to the PRS. But the sky-high level of demand for houses in Plymouth means the capital value of properties is set to remain strong.

If you are interested in purchasing your first, second or umpteenth buy-to-let, please visit our office for a friendly chat so we can give you the inside track and lowdown on being a landlord in Plymouth today.

Long-term property price review in Plymouth

It is the time of year when we can look at how property prices in 2016 fared in comparison to the decade preceding it. With property price data still to come through for the end of the year our estimates paint a promising picture.

 

Overview of the Plymouth market structure

The total number of property transactions and the mix of properties are strong indicators of the buoyancy of the local property market in the area. The adjacent chart gives an indication of the changing market structure in Plymouth. We estimate that 801 flats, 1815 terraces, 742 semis and 290 detached properties were sold in 2016.

 

How do residents in Plymouth get to work?

An analysis of commuting preferences in Plymouth shows that the majority of people use a car (64.7%). This is followed by on foot (17.3%), and then bus (12.5%). It will be interesting to monitor how this pattern changes over time given the trend in Plymouth and everywhere else to use more public transport and healthier options.

 

Lifecycle mix in Plymouth

Where people are in their lifecycles can be a real indicator of the character of the local area. In Plymouth, the lifecycle mix of residents can be split into the following six categories:

 

Young and Single 27.6%
Young Family 19.2%
Mid-stage Family 13.2%
Mature Family 12.6%
Empty Nesters 8.7%
Retired 18.8%
(Dated January 2017)