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Maidstone Property Market – the Last 10 Years

 

One of my Maidstone landlords contacted me last week from Langley, after he had spoken to a landlord friend of his from Coxheath. He told me they were deliberating the Maidstone property market and neither of them could make their mind up if it was time to either sell or buy property following Covid-19. His friend said he would wait to see what would happen to property prices following Covid-19, yet my landlord wanted to pick my brain in order to help him decide what to do.

 

I said the press are aware bad news sells newspapers and the doom mongers are plying their trade on uncertainty in the world economic situation. Roll the clock back to the Credit Crunch of 2008/9, and there were quite a few landlords in Maidstone who had overexposed themselves with high percentage loan to value buy to let mortgages, backing the hope they would make their money on the capital growth, yet fell foul of a drop in rents and thus got bankrupted (but who could blame them when the property market was rising at 15% to 20% a year in the early 2000’s and banks like Northern Rock were giving mortgages out to anyone with a pulse and note from their Mum).

 

Thankfully the Bank of England changed the rules on all mortgages in 2014 banning self-certification mortgages, tightening the rules around interest-only mortgages and the requirement around affordability to be checked, plus a tough stress test if interest rates rose. It’s obvious we are going to enter into a recession because of Covid-19, yet this time the Maidstone property market is better placed to weather the storm. 

 

 

Maidstone Home Buyers & Landlords Set to Save £6,638,430 in Stamp Duty Over Next

Nine Months

                                                                                                                                   

The British are infatuated with owning their own property and politicians know that. Margaret Thatcher used it as a vote winner in 1979 when she allowed council house tenants to buy their own home. Coming to the present day, Boris Johnson’s Conservative government have anxieties that the Brits have not been buying nearly enough homes lately and, as with all countries in the world, the British property market was put ‘on ice’ for several months to help contain the Coronavirus, exacerbating the problem.

 

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced on Wednesday plans to boost the property market by momentarily scrapping Stamp Duty Tax (a tax paid by homebuyers) when they buy a property that costs less than £500,000.

Maidstone Property Market – Is it Time to ‘Plan’ to Get the Builders In?

 
Even though the new legislation was placed on hold because of the recent General Election, it is expected the Government will start fining around half of all UK local authorities for failing to build enough new homes as Westminster starts to force local authorities to build more homes with the new laws.

 
 

 

The Halifax announced in early January that there was a Boris Bounce in the national property market as they stated national property values soared 1.7% in December 2019 - the biggest rise since the 1.9% month on month rise in February 2007 (a few months before the Global Financial Crisis aka the Credit Crunch).
 
Get the flags out - all hail Boris as the Conservatives gain their landslide general election triumph - the Boris Bounce is here … or is it?
 
The Halifax (as well as the Land Registry and other house price indexes) use data of property that has sold and completed (completion being when monies and keys of homes sold are transferred). The Halifax data was based on properties that completed in December 2019, and as anyone who has sold or bought a Maidstone property in the last 10 years knows, the time it takes from agreeing a buying price to handing over the money is many weeks. In fact, the average length of time between sale agreed and completion in the country is running at 19 weeks, meaning the figures mentioned by the Halifax are for sales agreed in July / August 2019. This growth relates to what was happening to the property market in Summer 2019.
 
One of the most important things for the property market is confidence. Interestingly, Rightmove reported a 28% surge in buyer enquiries between the 13th December and 18th December. After a couple of years of Parliamentary hold-up, the confidence following this general election is unquestionably a much needed boost for the economy (and ultimately confidence), so much so, shares in the new homes builders Barratt jumped 14% and Persimmon 12% the day after the election, showing a property sector anticipation that the property market is about to move forward as suppressed demand for people moving home is liberated. 
 
Looking at the previous elections, I decided to look at what happened to property values in Maidstone in the 12 months after each election, with some interesting results.

 

 
 

 

So, with past experience, a general election generally has a good effect rather than a worse effect on the Maidstone property market.
 
Looking at the rest of 2020, my intuition tells me in the better areas of Maidstone, it will likely be a seller’s market, as they will have more influence to ask for higher asking prices from Maidstone property buyers that have placed plans to move on hold for far too long - and this could push up Maidstone property values more promptly in the short term.
 
Yet, as more Maidstone properties come on to the market in the usual spring rush, we could see Maidstone home buyers having more choice and thus, as supply increases yet demand remains the same, buyers will get more power to negotiate a better deal. Irrespective of that, there is still the all-encompassing issue that I have spoken about many times in my blog of not enough homes being built to keep up with the number required, meaning negotiating power and prices being inflated.
 
The bottom line is, the Maidstone housing market will get a slight boost from the general election. The threat of a Jeremy Corbyn government obstructed some Maidstone landlords to build their buy to let portfolio in the later parts of 2019, so as long as sellers remain realistic with their pricing and present their properties in the best light, 2020 in the Maidstone property market should be a year of ‘steady as she goes’.
 
P.S .One final thought - remember what I said about the Halifax price Index being 5/6 months behind the times - don’t be alarmed when they announce in the March/April/May a reduction in property values - like I said before - this will be the prices achieved in the later parts of 2019 i.e. not what is happening right now.

 

 

 

 

Claire Harvey has over 20 years experience in property sales both in the UK and abroad.

Claire started selling homes in both the USA and Spain before turning her attention to Kent in 2008. She is passionate about property and giving good advice. Her moto is "delivering excellence."

 

The purpose of the Property News Update is to provide all those interested in property, impartial advice on what is happening in the local market.

Claire has ensured that Seekers are the 'go-to' sales and letting agent in the Mid Kent Area.

Outside of her day-to-day work Claire has obtained degrees in both Criminology and Adult Education.

 

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It seems that quite a few Maidstone homeowners and Maidstone landlords have become acclimatised to living with the uncertainty of Brexit throughout most of 2019, as figures show many of them decided to get on with living life, started reinvesting their money into Maidstone property and buying and selling their Maidstone homes and BTL investments. Land Registry stats confirm that. Current data shows that...

 

Maidstone property values are 3.2% lower than 12 months ago

 

Whilst the newspapers were stating prime central London property values were now 17% below the levels being achieved a couple of years, that message seems not to have been heard by certain sectors of the Maidstone property market!

 

Speaking with other property professionals in Maidstone, many weren’t expecting the usual autumn rebound after the summer holidays. Many were anticipating a dormant Maidstone property market on the run up to Christmas believing many Maidstone home-movers would put off the their home moving activities until the new year, yet in many sectors of the local property market, I have seen (and the stats back this up) that those Maidstone property buyers who are able to hold their nerve (whereas others were hesitant) have found themselves in a better negotiating position to get a great property deal.

 

Putting aside the fluff of newspaper headlines, the real foundations of Maidstone housing market remain sound with record low unemployment, ultra-low interest rates and low inflation.

Interestingly, there are 50% more homes for sale in Maidstone compared to two years ago, meaning more choice for buyers

 

However, there are still parts of the Maidstone property market that remain stagnant, with some homeowners being slightly unrealistic with their marketing pricing. To them, the property market appears to be slow, as they stare at their ‘for sale’ board for months on end, yet nothing could be further from the truth.

 

The key to a balanced (and healthy) property market is realistic pricing by the homeowners when they place the property on the market, mortgage affordability for buyers (which was discussed a couple of weeks ago in the Maidstone Property Blog) and buy to let landlord activity which creates and maintains forward momentum. One measure of momentum is how long a property remains on the market, and interestingly…

 

The current average length of time a Maidstone property remains on the market is 80 days, up slightly from 61 days two years ago

 

Now the number of properties sold locally is slightly down year on year (even though we had a burst of property sales in the summer locally) and interestingly, Rightmove reported recently that nationally, the number of properties sold in the UK was only just over 3% less year on year, so a similar picture nationally.

 

So, what does all this mean for Maidstone homeowners and Maidstone landlords?

We have always had issues that were game changers for the housing market; for the last few years it’s been Brexit, 10 years ago the credit crunch, 18 years ago the dot com crash, the ERM and 15% interest rates issue 27 years ago, dual MIRAS 32 years ago, hyper-inflation 40 years ago, the 3 day week 45 years ago – the list goes on. Everyone needs a home to live in, the local authority just has not got the money to build council houses, so buy to let will continue to grow for the foreseeable future which in turn creates a stable foundation for all homeowners. Maybe you should use this time, like many are in Maidstone to take advantage of the property deals to be had in Maidstone.

 

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