Well we’ve seen it with our own eyes. We’ve opened the doors and we’ve shook the hands. We’ve passed the keys into the palms of many 30 and 40 somethings excited to be leaving the capital for the size, space and peace offered here on our own doorsteps. Now both Nationwide and the Resolution Foundation thinktank have statistically proven the exodus from London northward. With property prices down 5% year on year and with over 330,000 leaving the city last year (ONS statistics, year ending June 2017), London is the only region in the country with falling prices with the average increase nationally being 2.2%.
The Midlands, most specifically Birmingham, but now Coventry and the surrounding towns of Kenilworth, Leamington Spa and Warwick have seen the highest property price increases over the last year with a regional average of 4.5%.
Infrastructure is vital. Investment in the city and the towns will reap rewards for all and the Rail network’s part in this cannot be understated. Whether people live in or out of London they’ve still got to get there after all.
Closer to home though and on an emotional level, the appeal of a commute no longer than many travelling from Wimbledon to Wembley means that living in Kenilworth or Earlsdon or Styvechale or Leamington Spa will offer substantially more living space for the pound. It will also offer a community that can see children raised in outstanding schools without a forty five minute traffic jam and a bill for £100 a day childcare.
The distance between us and London seems to be getting smaller every year. Whether or not Mash and Liquor will be sold at The Almanack or Millsys though could be a step too far….
Well done to the Sky Blues on Saturday! The obvious excitement and passion on the faces of Gael Bigirimana and George Thomas were a sight for us to enjoy for years to come. Now the really hard work starts! Good luck fellas!
On a purely coincidental football theme, the Shearer Property Group (tell me you get it!), the firm behind such successful schemes as Grand Arcade in Cambridge as well as the new restaurant quarter in Cathedral Lanes, will lead a huge new development in Coventry’s struggling and let’s face it, ugly, Centre Point region of the City.
Built in the late 1960’s by the architect John Madin, much of whose work in Birminghams city centre has also been demolished, Centre Point has fallen to rack and ruin and in my opinion quite honestly summarises all of the negatives of that era’s design.
In it’s place, a £300 million pound project to transform Hertford Street, the Bull Yard, Shelton Square and City Arcade into a retail and leisure masterplan that will offer the Midlands second largest shopping destination outside of Birmingham! A similar size to Touchwood, the new “district” will offer unmatched shopping, leisure and new homes for residential owners and student tenants.
With Coventry Universities investment into Bishop Gate currently developing at a rate of knots I think it’s time to acknowledge the huge benefit that our two Universities have offered this city. Although I have issues with the overdevelopment of HMO’s and the fact they don’t fail to ruin communities in a matter of months, I can’t fail to see how, together with Jaguar Landrover, these Universities have brought nothing but positive attention and investment back to this once failing City.
Sounds a bit like the lads on Sunday doesn’t it.
After an amazing Olympics in which Great Britain beat everybody out of sight (bar USA), team GB arrive home to a hero’s welcome. Richly deserved, it was an amazing achievement.
And the performance went a long way to showing how our little island can perform on the world stage, both in sporting terms and also in economic terms. After some of the post Brexit negativity, this is a real boost to the nation and should inspire everybody to rally together now and get on with the business of finding our way in the world, without the ties and regulations of the European Union.
Team GB won more Gold medals than Germany and France put together. Which goes to show when we organise things ourselves, we get the job done.
My money is on more of the same in Japan, 2020 and by then Brexit and Europe will be long forgotten as our economy and property market grow in strength. We’ll show everyone that our little island can make it’s own way and become a truly global sporting and economic force.
Having just received a call from BBC Coventry and Warwickshire with a question regarding David Cameron’s legacy and his impact on the property market, I found myself having to look at the same results but from two contradictory angles.
Are dramatic property price increases a positive or a negative? It’s that fundamental. Who is to congratulate and who’s to wave a fist at?
According to data from the Land Registry, average UK house prices have risen from £161,148 in 2009, just before Mr Cameron became Prime Minister, to £206,953 in 2016 – a 28 per cent increase. If you own a home and don’t want to move then could this be irrelevant? Well, not if you want to remortgage and borrow more thus releasing more money into the economy. And what if you want to move? Well, unless you are moving from an area of wealth and high property value to an area not so, then irrelevant it is. The property you purchase will likely have risen proportionally too.
As far as I can see, David Cameron, Britain’s youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812, has been sturdy if not so Gung Ho as New Labours last elected incumbent. His parties decision to increase Stamp Duty for investment landlords seems flawed but his restructure of traditional stamp duty was welcome.
Now, we must move forward as a country, not just a political party and Theresa May be the right person to do this (See what I did there!) . Until Labour’s leadership creates solidarity within it’s own party I see we have little choice other than hoping that this Governments moral decision making prevails within our new “Brexit” nation. No rash decisions, some cleverly thought through policies and a goal of making everyone who at least lives here now as comfortable and productive as possible.
Although I can’t see Coventry becoming North Londonshire any time soon it is worth bearing in mind that local government development agencies have come up with such bizarre concepts in London’s more popular commuter towns in recent years.
With a travel duration of 60 minutes from Coventry Station and annual costs being in the region of £7500 it is no wonder we are finding more and more buyers visiting from the Big Smoke. This annual cost of travel is as little as 1% of the average price difference between houses in London’s Zone 1 and 2 and Coventry itself.
With Nationwide showing a 26% growth in central London and a steady but not so spectacular increase circumnavigating its core, the ability to commute can offer both a healthier lifestyle and a happier wallet as well. With the opportunity to own more substantial property at a fraction of the cost, the once traditional lure of towns such as Reading, Hatfield and Luton can be bettered at even lower cost by travelling just a few miles further.
Kettering, Peterborough, Luton and Basildon are in the top five most cost-effective towns within a 70-minute commute to central London. Coventry sits even closer if we use the Coventry – Euston line.
We have seen tremendous interest in properties within easy access to Coventry Station. Styvechale, Cheylesmore and Earlsdon are all appealing to Londoncentric buyers wishing to spread their wings.
What with the new FriarGate development dramatically improving the entire Station area we could soon see Coventry and its surrounding Villages become a genuine commuter hub. Seemingly this city is certainly becoming one to to invest in and one that should see more families making it there own. Now that can’t be bad for anyone can it.
Quite often the last thing an Estate Agent would choose to do in their own spare time would be to watch a television series about Estate Agents but “Under Offer: Estate Agents On The Job” was a different beast. I suppose the voyeuristic nature of the docudrama spiked a sense of impending dread. I better watch it so I know what I’m faced with tomorrow! Would we Estate Agents be further tarnished? Would we be mocked? I was pretty confident that the show wouldn’t instigate a surge of job applications but I hoped for the best and I think we got it.
First and foremost it was fun. We are great fun you once you get to know us.
Secondly the show was littered with classic quotations that that Messrs Scorcese and Tarantino would have been proud of. “Mass Murderers would be greeted with a better response”, “If you want to be an Estate Agent, you just open a shop”, “Most Estate Agents are Posh and Blond and I’m Irish and a Redhead”. It was great. The show on a more serious note clearly highlighted the canyon between London and the rest of the country something that we certainly have written about before. What clearly works in one region won’t necessarily work in another but certainly what shone through is that energy and enthusiasm go along way. Together with a moral compass pointing North, Estate Agents should come out of this smelling of roses rather than manure! Still, we are only on Episode Two!
GOOD NEWS FOR GARDENERS, BAD NEWS FOR DEVELOPERS
There will be a mixed reaction to last week’s announcement that the practice of “Garden Grabbing” is to be stopped under new government proposals. For many, selling off a large area of garden to developers has proved to be a “nice little earner” with the phenomenon increasing dramatically in recent years. According to the Communities and Local Government Department, the number of houses being built on gardens rose from one in 10 to a quarter of new properties between 1997 and 2008. Town halls have struggled to stop the trend as gardens have been classified as “previously residential land”, making them brownfield sites in the same category as derelict factories and old railway sidings.
For those that were lucky enough to have a large garden or plot of land, the enticement of hard cash in exchange for a cabbage patch proved too tempting to resist in many cases. Simply having the planning permission granted would push the value of their property up so many house owners drew up plans, gained the required approvals and then sold up. They didn’t even have the inconvenience of getting the builders in.
Of course for every winner there were several losers, and these would often come in the form of neighbours whose properties were blighted by the developments. When your next door neighbours garden sprouts a row of terraced houses you’re not likely to be best pleased.
Other notable losers included the local wildlife. Falling numbers of inner city birds such as the song thrush and the house sparrow have been made worse by the development of their habitats. And who could argue that the quality of life of living in the city won’t be affected by smaller and smaller green spaces to the point where all that is left is made of concrete.
On the other side of the coin, there is the shortage of housing in the UK and especially the availability of “affordable housing”. The new rules, if they are brought in will stop the go-ahead of many legitimate projects that would have provided new homes for a housing market already in short supply. Given the choice, developers will often choose garden sites over other brownfield land (such as derelict industrial sites) due to the lower costs involved as there is normally little or no clean-up operation required first. So costs of development will probably now increase applying further upward pressure to long term house prices.
Time will tell what the true impact will be. The only thing we know for sure is that this brings a new, more literal meaning to the phrase, “Not in my back yard!”
George Hartshorn MNAEA is Head of Sales for Elizabeth Davenport Estate Agents.