Isn’t it funny that nobody boasts they are a buy to let landlord anymore? Roll the clock back to the early millennium and you couldn’t go to the local golf club or shop at a Waitrose without someone dropping buy to let into the conversation as easily and as often as the weather. Continue reading Are Buy to Let Landlords to Blame for the St Andrews Housing Crisis? (4 min read)
In this 3-minute read we highlight the impact Covid 19 is having on the St Andrews property market.
An immediate fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic is that it has placed many St Andrews families house moves on hold. Government guidelines state all house buyers and house sellers who are in the process of selling their St Andrews house and moving to a new house must adapt to these temporary arrangements, adjusting their usual practices, agreeing different dates to the house move after the removal of the stay at home actions we are all adopting. In essence, putting the house move ‘on ice’ during lockdown. Continue reading 32 St Andrews Families in Limbo Due to Coronavirus (3 min read)
SPRING SELLING TIPS for 2020: How to prepare and present your home for prime selling season
Spring is usually the time of year when the largest numbers of buyers start registering with estate agents to find their next home. And with two long school holiday periods on the horizon – Easter and Summer – family friendly locations like Dunfermline, Glenrothes, Leven, Cupar, Kirkcaldy, East Neuk and St Andrews see a lot of property market activity. Continue reading SPRING SELLING TIPS for 2020 in FIFE
St Andrews Property Market
What is going to happen to Stamp Duty
on 11th March?
If you are buying a home in England costing more than £125,000, you will have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on the purchase of your new home. In the provinces, it’s called something slightly different, so if you are buying a property in Scotland over £145,000 you will pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and for any property over £180,000 in Wales you will pay Land Transaction Tax (LTT). Whatever the tax is called, it is an important factor when moving, when you consider that
For a lot of older homeowners today, downsizing can be a great way to have a good clear out after your kids have left home, but also a fantastic way to free up some equity from your home. This financial boost will most likely come with the added bonus of a reduction in running costs as you move to a smaller home.
While there are plenty of benefits of downsizing, moving home can still be a complex and stressful experience, so we’ve put together a quick guide on what to consider to help make your move a much smoother transition.
Decide what you REALLY need Continue reading Top Tips on Downsizing to a Smaller Home
If you have spoken to us on this subject previously, you will know that in the three years since the referendum of the ‘B’ word (that word is banned in our household), we have proved beyond doubt that it (whose name shall remain nameless) has had no effect on the Fife property market (or the UK as a whole).
So one might ask, what does affect the property market locally? Well many things on the demand side include wages, job security, interest rates, availability of mortgages, confidence in the economy, inflation, speculative demand … the list goes on. Yet as my blog readers will note, I like to delve deeper into the numbers and I have found an interesting correlation between unemployment and the number of properties sold (i.e. transactions).
Why transaction levels and not house prices? Well just looking at Fife house prices as a bellwether has flaws. Many property market commentators and economists believe transaction numbers (the number of properties sold) give a more accurate and candid indicator of the health of the property market than just house values alone. The reason is twofold. First most people when they sell also buy, so if property values have dropped by 10% or risen by 10% on the one you are selling, it would have done the same on the one you are buying – meaning to judge the health of a property market is very one dimensional. Secondly, the act of moving is very much a human thing. Property habitually conveys a robust emotional connection with homeowners – a connection that few would attribute to their other investments like their savings or stock market investments. Moving home could be described as a human enterprise, moving from one chapter of one’s life to another. When people move home, it shows they are moving forward in their lives and so this gives a great indicator of the health of the property market.
Looking at Fife’s figures on the graph, you can see an inverse relationship between unemployment and housing transaction levels.
Property transactions in Fife dropped by 55.6%, whilst unemployment in Fife rose by 54.29% during the 2007 to 2009 Global Financial Crash
Until recently, there has clearly been a relationship between conditions in the Fife job market and the number of people who move home … interesting don’t you think?
Now I am not saying unemployment is the only factor influencing the Fife property – but it has to be said there is a link.
As a country (and indeed here in Fife) over the last 40 years, we have seen a shift in the outlook over the purpose of housing and the development of the religion of following house prices (and I appreciate the irony of me writing these articles on Fife – feeding that habit!) Yet, when did owning a home turn from buying a roof over your head to an out and out investment vehicle? I do wish people would stop fretting about their intrinsic value being associated with their Fife home. Now of course, I am not dismissing the current levels of Fife house prices – we just have to take into consideration other metrics alongside them when judging the health of the property market locally.
One final thought, looking on a broader scale in the UK, those towns and cities whose property markets bounced back after the Global Financial Crash had high levels of employment and low unemployment whilst places with high unemployment and relatively low employment have, on the other hand, typically under performed.
So, the next time you are considering a house move or buying a buy to let property in Fife … don’t make your judgement on house price growth alone.
We’re moving into a new decade, and so the last thing that you want is for your home to look dated. Throughout 2019 we have seen some extreme trends in interior design; from the embracing of industrial elements to the resurgence of entirely neutral spaces. We have taken a look at what to expect this year and how to get ahead with your design aesthetic, whatever your budget.
- Colour makes a comeback
One of the key trends this decade has been that of neutral spaces with a few accent pieces to liven up the décor, however this year one of the main inclinations in design will be towards colour; bolder, brighter and braver! Rebecca Breslin, Wayfair Professional design manager, is calling for an end of “Greige, grey and all neutral everything without texture or visual interest” and therefore if you are looking for a change this year then start by adding colour into your home – burnt oranges and deep blues are set to be en vogue throughout the whole year.
- Paper set to tear up the market
A feature wall has been the mainstay of every makeover show and glossy magazine before-and-after shoot since the early naughties, however 2020 is set to end this fad. Rather than a singular wall that is adorned with wallpaper, we are going to see all four walls covered with paper – in line with the brighter aesthetic of 2020. Wallpaper has seen something of a renaissance over the past decade, with designs from Gucci and Dior all the way through to stick-and-peel examples flooding the marketplace, and this isn’t set to end this year. If you want to experiment, then start with smaller spaces such as studies, toilets and guest bedrooms where patterns will seem less overwhelming.
- Cabinet shake-up
The crisp, white kitchens that have been an enduring design staple over the last decade are set to move into retirement in 2020, with colour making its way back into the heart of the home. Kitchen cabinets, more specifically, are to become a real focus in kitchen design – therefore if you are looking to stay on-trend then think about rejuvenating your cabinets. Navy blue matte cabinets with vintage gold handles will transform your aesthetic immediately and mixes the traditional and vintage visuals that are set to be all the rage this year.
- Give art a start
In these modern days of mass production and consumerism, vintage art and antiques are making a huge comeback due to the perceived one-of-a-kind nature of the objects and that they possess their own unique story. If you are looking to make small changes to your home that make it chic, then adding some select pieces of art is a great start – adding pieces to your kitchen walls will add particular interest to an otherwise utilitarian space.
- Soften the edges
Throughout the 2010s, chicness has often been related to strong lines, sharp edges and minimalism, however as we move into the next decade this is set to be turned on its head for an altogether softer look. As well as a nod to 30s glamour (think metallics such as silver and gold, as well as scalloped seating) curves and fluid shapes are set to be popular this year; from circular side tables to rounded-edge sofas.
As any estate agent can tell you, a successful sale hinges on a good first impression. Prospective buyers possess a sixth sense when it comes to viewing a property and if things aren’t up to scratch – inside and out – you can guarantee they will spot it.
In fact, a recent study has revealed that the average house hunter only needs eight minutes to decide if a property is for them or not and six in ten adults will also choose not to buy a property based on the condition of the exterior of the property, without even needing to view the inside.
In comparison, 18% of buyers admitted to buying the very first property they view and 15% said they decided to buy the property before they had even viewed it in person.
This decisiveness extends online, with the average buyer spending eight minutes deciding whether or not to visit a property – highlighting the importance of a good online advert. This comes back to making sure you have a professional photographer to take stunning photos, a professional copywriter to describe and measure the property, emotive descriptions to catch the buyers attention, a correct and not over-inflated valuation for the home report and most of all an agent that’s going to jump on an enquiry regardless of when and what time it comes in. Proactive rather than reactive.
75% also confessed to being irritated upon finding that an advert or online listing does not accurately represent a property when visiting in person.
The study also revealed which aspects of a viewing signalled an early exit for many prospective buyers. The main offender was an obvious damp patch, which 60% of buyers said would put a stop to any future transaction, whilst a house on a main road or cracks in the wall would also put an end to the viewing.
For the buyers who are good at seeking out the problematic finer details of the property, there were some decisive reasons for buyers backing out of the viewing, such as dirty toilet pipes, overflowing bins, wheelie bins left in front of the property and faded or yellowed paintwork.
Some viewers take issue with a sellers lack of preparation for the viewing such as untidy rooms, poor DIY and ashtrays left around the house.
Other reasons included logistical problems such as the size of the rooms being too small for the buyer’s furniture or issues with the natural lighting of the property. The current owner’s furniture cluttering up the layout of a room which preventing the buyer’s imagination from running wild led to over a third of buyers to back out of a purchase.
The list showcases the importance of sprucing up your home, both before putting it on the market and before every viewing. A prospective buyer needs to weigh up the additional costs and work involved in buying a property, so ensure you give your home the most generic makeover possible and organise your possessions and furniture in a way that won’t distract the prospective buyer.
Some of these issues might seem very minor to you but it highlights the need to have an experienced agent that can overcome what you see as minor objections so the buyer does not walk away over something that could be trivial in hindsight.
It’s the start of a brand new year in the market, with buyers and sellers alike preparing to fulfil their New Year’s Resolutions and make their move. Market conditions appear to have stabilised after December’s general election brought with it a majority Conservative Government, but what can you do to give yourself the best chance of a successful transaction? Read our top tips for Buyers and Sellers below.
Research, Research, Research
As clichéd as it sounds, buyers who prepare sufficiently are more likely to end up with a better deal for the home they’re looking for. Once you’ve made the decision to begin house hunting, look into sale and listing prices for properties in the local areas that you’re interested in; this will give you a rough guide as to how much you can expect to spend.
Prepare your mortgage
If you’re house-hunting in a competitive area where properties are quickly snapped up, then getting a mortgage agreement in principle will give you an advantage when you find the property that you want. Having your finances in order and prepared can save time and prove invaluable if the home you want is likely to generate significant local interest.
Check the Home Report
Make sure you check the home report (Scotland) and the surveyor’s comments before you offer. This survey flags up any major issues or elements of the property that require attention, such as urgent defects or structural concerns. Depending on the age of the building, you could find yourself a wildly fluctuating amount of work to carry out, especially if previous owners have neglected its upkeep. Either way, this is an invaluable belts and braces report of the property and will provide peace of mind in any outcome. If it’s more than 3 months old once you have had an offer accepted, insist on the seller getting a refresh so it’s up to date. If a long time has passed since it was first listed it could be there is other issues you need to be aware of that could affect your initial offer price.
Research, Research, Research
Preparation is key for sellers, too! Make sure you know your property’s true value before it’s listed; carry out a full appraisal of your home with a trusted agent and not just an instant valuation to get a clear idea of what your property is worth. Inviting valuers into your home can also provide you with a fresh set of eyes which can be useful in flagging up any existing issues or reminding you of a few flaws that could require attention before going to market, too. Some even provide more specialist knowledge than just a valuation.
Find ways to add more value
If you’re looking for ways to add more worth to your property, then carrying out home improvement projects will certainly aid you. These can be relatively simple tasks, such as installing double glazing or adding extra insulation to your loft, or bigger jobs such as renovating your kitchen. Whilst the cost associated with these projects may be off-putting, it may pay off when it comes to increasing your home’s value. But ask the professionals first if it’s worth doing before doing it.
Declutter and organise
Take a look at each room in your house and you’ll likely find a few easy ways of decluttering and making extra space. This is vital for the viewing process as potential buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in this space, and in some rooms, it’s as easy as clearing a few worktops or mantlepieces.
In today’s market, preparation really is key whether you’re buying or selling. Carry out your market research, get your finances and paperwork and make sure you utilise a knowledgeable and local agent to help you through the process. One that has a consistent track record, years of experience and is an expert in their field. One that embraces and uses new technology and media marketing to hit specific target markets for your property rather than one that will put it on a few big websites and hope for the best. Proactive rather than reactive.
St Andrews House Prices Have Risen by 176% as a Proportion of Household Income Since 1980
Have the Baby Boomers (people between the ages of 55yrs to 75yrs) messed things up for the Millennials in terms of getting on the St Andrews property ladder? They bought their own council houses in the 80’s and 90’s, meaning there are no affordable homes for today’s youngsters, thus driving up the demand for rental homes and the price of homes (making them unaffordable). So, I decided to look at the figures, which do not make for good reading.
In 1980, the average St Andrews household income was just under £6,000 per annum and the average St Andrews house price was £25,933; whilst today, the average St Andrews household income is £27,544 per annum, yet the average household value is £328,700, meaning…
the average value of a St Andrews home was 4.32 times more than the average household income in 1980 compared to today, where it is 11.93 times a St Andrews household income
… it’s no wonder then that Millennials are pointing the finger at Baby Boomers!
And the problems don’t just stop there. Not only do the newspapers state there is a housing crisis of affordability, but also a crisis of the availability of homes for people to live in. The political parties using housing as a ‘vote getter’ mentioned stats such as in 1981 there were 5.1 million council houses and today that stands at 1.6 million. This is important because, as a substantial number of people will never be able to afford to buy, social housing plays a significant role in homing them.
It all looks rather damning and the phrase ‘OK Boomer’ looks quite apt.
(The phrase ‘OK Boomer’ become fashionable as it started as a way of showing Baby Boomers that things were “easier in the past”, yet now it has become just a way for younger people to discredit the views of older people).
Well, checking the stats, the political parties seemed to forget the number of housing associations homes (which are also social housing) has risen from 0.4m to 2.6m homes in that time, therefore, whilst there is a drop in social housing, it’s a net figure of 2.3m fewer social-rented houses, instead of the 3.5m in the paragraph above.
Baby Boomers simply did the best they could with the circumstances given – it’s not like that these older generations have been conspiring in the food aisles of Waitrose or M&S on how to mess things up for the next generation. There are fundamental underlying problems in British society that means things are difficult for our younger people – it’s everyone’s responsibility to solve those underlying problems – we can’t just blame the Baby Boomers. Millennials aren’t morally superior to Baby Boomers just because they didn’t grow up in the same era of economic growth and house price inflation.
What some people seem to forget is whilst St Andrews property values were lower, so were salaries. The true cost of affordability is the mortgage payments. Assuming an average property was purchased in 1980 and again in 2019, using a 95% mortgage at the prevailing mortgage rate of 17.8% in 1980 and the current 1.65%, today in St Andrews the mortgage accounts for 55% of the household income (assuming a single income) compared to 74% in 1980. This has to be one of the main reasons why many families became two wage households in the late 70’s/early 80’s as housing affordability was diminished with these eye watering high interest rates.
Things were tougher for homeowners in 1980….
The issue here is something much deeper. Baby Boomers say it is the Millennials’ own fault they can’t afford to buy their own home because they spend all their money on three holidays, avocado on toast, going out down the pub 3 times a week and buying the latest iPhone or suchlike whilst Millennials accuse the Baby Boomer generation for ruining the housing market ‘per se’ by being selfish. Both are right and both are wrong.
In my own involvement with friends and family, many St Andrews Baby Boomers are trying their best to help out their now grown up children with a deposit. They are fully aware of current St Andrews house prices compared to when they bought their own homes.
I am not a fan of attaching labels, be it Millennials, Baby Boomer or Gen-X. It’s really a point of attitude and behaviour and circumstance rather than the date of your birth. Every generation has had its fair share of feast and famine and whilst I appreciate the irony of the title of this article, let’s stop labelling people and making assumptions, everyone needs to understand each generation’s issues and be more ungrudging to each other.