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Equity release “stampede”, city rentals, adding value to your home and, other UK property news

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A sure sign that the housing market is getting briskly back onto its feet is the wide range of headlines we’ve noted this week.

Several different themes and news items are covered, including the following that most caught our eye.

Homeowners release £1bn of equity in 'middle-class stampede'

Escalating house prices make equity release an even more attractive prospect for many homeowners. And the result has seen what a story in the Daily Mail on the 25th of May described as a “middle-class stampede” – attracting wealthier, middle-aged homeowners looking to downsize in particular.

With these older homeowners releasing an average of £100,000 each by unlocking the equity tied up in their property during the first quarter of this year – compared to the average £83,000 realised in the same period in 2020 – a total of £1.07 billion has been secured by homeowners through equity release. That total is more than 12% higher than in the same period last year.

Demand for rental homes in city centres bounces back

After an initial exodus, the demand for rented accommodation in city centres is now bouncing back as life begins to return to something approaching normality, reported the online sales and rentals listing site Zoopla on the 27th of May.

What had once been a downturn in the rental market is steadily being reversed as demand picks up again thanks to a resurgent economy, the beginning of a return to office hours, the revival of after-work leisure and social activity, and a relative flood of renters now looking for a bargain.

The revival is good news for landlords, of course, although the recovery may still take some time to achieve pre-pandemic levels. Nevertheless, as we reported on the 16th of March 2021, the surge in demand, meeting a relative slump in the supply of properties to let, has resulted in an increase in rents.

Landlords are getting younger

It was always a sign that you were getting older when policemen appeared to be so young. These days, that might also apply to your landlord!

According to a story by Property Reporter on the 28th of May, private sector landlords are getting younger by the day, with around half of their number (47%) aged just 40 or less. This compares with figures gathered in 2018 showing that only 29% of all landlords were under the age of 44.

Not only are landlords getting younger, but they also seem to be earning more money from their buy to let businesses than their more mature colleagues.

In a survey of around 500 landlords, the very youngest of them reported the highest average incomes. Those between the ages of 18 and 30, for instance, are making an average of £25,481 a year, according to Property Reporter.

Women increase their share of landlord investment

It’s not only the age profile of private sector landlords that is changing – an increasing number are also women, according to a report by Landlord Today on the 28th of May.

Indeed, so enthusiastic has the take-up been that an estimated 49% of all landlords are women – thus addressing a previous gender inequality (as recently as 2018, for instance, women accounted for just 40% of all landlords).

Female landlords own an average of two buy to let properties each but have a little way to go when it comes to earnings parity with men. Whereas male landlords are earning an annual average of £21,885 from their let properties, women are making only £18,285.

How to add £154k to the value of your home

In our news roundup of the 26th of May, we reported figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggesting that house prices have risen by more than 10% in the past year – and market analysts suggest that further increases may be on their way.

Yet a story in the Liverpool Echo on the 31st of May suggested that there are still several ways in which you could increase the value of your home still further – by as much as £154,000.

That sum could be achieved, argues the Echo, by carrying out improvements such as:

  • painting the exterior walls;
  • painting the front door blue – since that’s been shown to be the most popular, highest-value colour;
  • freshening up the interior walls;
  • updating or upgrading the bathroom;
  • adding an extra bathroom;
  • replacing your carpets;
  • installing energy-saving features; and
  • investing in a new kitchen.

The newspaper estimated the value added by each of these improvements to arrive at a figure of more than £150,000.