After the shock of the Conservatives returning to power with a majority at Westminster, all the potential issues and possible uncertainties of a hung parliament has lifted the cloud from the Headingley property market. Talking to other Headingley agents, surveyors and solicitors in the area over the last few days, there are signs this has started a new impetus in the Headingley property market after a subdued six months, when an amalgamation of tougher lending conditions, a natural correction after the strong recovery in Headingley property prices in 2014, and political uncertainty ahead of the General Election slowed demand.
Against the back drop of Labour’s election promises of rent controls and three year tenancies, many buy to let landlords were waiting to see how these new policies would be implemented before they committed themselves to buying more property for their buy to let portfolio. Now that uncertainty has been removed, the long term picture is very positive.
So, with all that uncertainty now removed, where next for the Headingley property market? Well with inflation at zero and with the Money markets happy David Cameron is still at No.10, the Bank of England have no reason to raise interest rates until 2016 at the earliest. As mortgage rates are at their lowest levels since 2010, landlords with large deposits will now be wooed by the mortgage companies in the coming months with low rates.
You see over the past couple of years, Headingley landlords have benefitted from a booming Headingley job market. Unemployment in Headingley area has dropped to 2.3%, as a year ago, 1,369 people were claiming unemployment benefit compared to today’s 969. With more jobs and better pay, as the level of rents is directly linked to tenant’s wages, there has been an increase in the rental prices tenants are willing to pay for good quality Headingley properties.
Some landlords might be nervous about Tory’s plans for the housing market over the next five years in terms of tenant demand for their rental properties. One plan is for Housing Association tenants to have the right to buy their property. These kind of tenants were never in the private rented sector and will actually increase the supply of properties in the housing stock in decades to come. The Government ‘Help to Buy Scheme’ has only helped to buy 32 (yes only thirty two) Headingley properties since April 2013. Considering 1,216 properties have changed hands in the last year alone in Headingley area (Headingley plus one mile which is the area the Help to Buy scheme is based on), I don’t think it has made a huge difference to our local property market.
The biggest issue, when it comes to tenant demand of rental property going forward, comes from the shift in the mindset and attitudes towards renting itself. Twenty years ago you were seen as a second class citizen if you rented a property. In Headingley, as in the rest of the UK (apart from Central London), renting continues to offer good value for money for tenants. If you are an existing landlord in Headingley or thinking of becoming one, then I must suggest you seek out specialist advice and opinion.