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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.

 

 

 If you are either selling or buying a property in Maidstone, there are a few reasons why it may be taking some time to sell your Maidstone home or find that perfect place to call your new home. It may be taking longer than you thought to find a buyer for your home because of the current state of the property market or finding that perfect Maidstone home may be taking too long because of a lack of properties to buy.

 

So, taking everything into consideration, all of these factors invite an obvious question; how long is too long to persist in the Maidstone property market?

 

If you are looking to sell your Maidstone property, it may have become infuriating when your home has been on the market for longer than you anticipated. Perhaps the property market is purely in a position where it's challenging to get a property sold quickly, or sold at the price you want to achieve for it. If you do live in a Maidstone home that is towards the upper reaches of the price band, you have to be open to the idea that because it's worth so much more than the average property in Maidstone and so more than most individuals can afford, you will have to wait longer to get it sold.

 

Your Maidstone home might be taking longer to sell because your asking price is simply too high. Even if you are prepared to take a realistic offer, if you have an unrealistic asking price your overpriced Maidstone property will undoubtedly turn off potential buyers from even being inclined to book a viewing.

 

Looking at the market in Maidstone compared to a year ago makes very interesting reading…

 

When it comes to the average length of time on the market, semi-detached, terraced and apartments in Maidstone appear to be taking longer to sell, detached homes have remained the same.

 

The overall average length of time a Maidstone property remains on the market has risen by 24.2%, from 66 days a year to 82 days today

 

The question that remains is, if you are having no luck selling should you leave your Maidstone property on the market or not? This is basically down to your personal circumstances - a big decider has to be if you are moving up market or downsizing.

 

Buyers will compare your Maidstone property to all the other homes on the market using the portals such as Rightmove, On the Market and Zoopla and even if your asking price is realistic, if your marketing (brochures, pictures, even video walk through) isn’t top dollar, they will dismiss your property.

 

Remember, the average buyer only views 4.5 properties before they buy and on average, each buyer will only spend just over 25 minutes viewing each home  …

 

The more properties that are on the market, the greater the choice for buyers (yet more competition for house sellers), so we wanted to look at how many homes were for sale in Maidstone now, compared to 12 months ago.

 

As you can see, there are some differences between the property types in Maidstone.

 

 

12 months ago

Now

Percentage Change

  Maidstone
Detached

236

295

25.0%

  Maidstone
Semi

286

346

21.0%

  Maidstone Terraced/Town House

142

174

22.5%

Maidstone
Apartment

195

203

4.1%

Overall Maidstone
Average

859

1018

18.5%

 

As for buying a Maidstone property, searching for that dream house can take time as you have to consider the needs of your spouse, children, schooling, etc., what you can realistically afford and whether your current location can accommodate you until you find that perfect Maidstone home.

 

Don’t forget that upwards of 10% of homes do not make it to the portals (the portals are Rightmove, Zoopla and On the Market), so don’t just rely on the portals to let you know what is coming on the market. The number of times I speak to disappointed buyers who missed out because other buyers registered directly with the agent for property, whilst they relied on the portals.

 

When it comes to buying a Maidstone home, and so you do not make any decisions you will regret later on, taking your time is always the more practical option. The amount of money that is involved in buying a home and all the costs connected with it means that you should not rush into buying or selling without due consideration.

 

 

 Yes , that number is staggering isn’t it ….

Of the 11,083 households in Maidstone where the head of the household is 65 years or older, an astounding 8,923 (or 80.5%) of those are owned, which is just above the national average of 74.1%, which sounds great – yet nothing could be further from the truth.

I chat with many Maidstone pensioners who would like to move but cannot, as there is a scarcity of such properties for Maidstone mature people to downsize into.  Due to their scarcity and high demand, Maidstone bungalows on average get a 12% to 22% premium per square metre premium over two storey properties.  To add insult to injury, a recent NHBC reported that only 1% of new builds in the Country were single storey bungalows (compared to 7% in the mid 1990’s).

Maidstone OAP’s are sitting on £3,207.9m of equity in these Maidstone homes

In a survey conducted a couple of years ago by YouGov, they established that just over one third of homeowning people aged 65 and over in the Country were looking to downsize into a smaller home. Yet, the Tory’s over the last nine years have appeared to target all their attention on first-time buyers with stratagems such as Starter Homes to safeguard the youngsters of the UK not becoming perpetual members of ‘Generation Rent’.   Equally though, this doesn’t address the long-lasting under-supply of suitable retirement housing essential to the needs of the Maidstone’s hastily ageing population.  Lamentably, the Maidstone’s housing stock is tragically unprepared for this demographic shift to the 'overextended middle age’, and this has created a new 'Generation Confined’ quandary where older people cannot move.

 

Also, those older Maidstone retirees’ who do live in the limited number of Maidstone bungalows are finding it difficult to live on their own, as they are unable to leave their bungalow because of a lack of sheltered housing and ‘affordable’ care home places.

 

Meaning those older Maidstone retirees can't leave their Maidstone bungalows, younger Maidstone retirees in their larger 2 storey family houses can't buy those Maidstone bungalows (occupied by the older retirees) and those Maidstone people in the 30’s and 40’s can't buy those larger 2 storey family houses (occupied by the younger retirees) they need to for their growing families ... it’s like everyone is waiting for everyone because of the bottleneck at the top.

For those wanting to see the complete stats for Maidstone as whole …

 

Maidstone’s (and the rest of the UK’s) property prices have soared over the last 50 years because the number of properties built has not kept up with demand.  With restrictive planning regulations, migration, people living longer and excessive divorce rates (meaning one family becomes two) we need, as a Country, 240,000 properties to be built a year since the Millennium to just stand still.

 

At the turn of the Millennium, the Country was constructing on average 180,000 to 190,000 households a year, that figure dropped in the five years after the Credit Crunch to 135,000 and 145,000 households a year.  Although we built 217,000 last year, we still have all those 19 years to make up for.

 

The answer …. allow more land for starter homes, bungalows and sheltered accommodation because land prices are stifling the property market as the large building firms are more likely to focus on traditional houses and apartments than bungalows (because they make more money from them).

 

My thoughts for the savvy Maidstone property investors  – until the Government change the planning rules and allow more land to be built on – Bungalows, especially ones that need some TLC after someone has passed away bungalows are a great bet for flipping and even potential rental returns for future property investment as more and more OAP’s will be renting in the decades to come?

 

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