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Rentals shortage, buy to let rural hotspots, average house prices, and more property news

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With more than 12 million Britons having received their first vaccine jab by the 7th of February, things seem to be getting back to whatever new normal might eventually appear.

Keeping up with those trends, the property market is barely a pace or two behind and now attracts a healthy postbag of headlines. Here are just a few of them.

NRLA calls for changes as renters face supply crisis

If there was already a shortage of affordable rental accommodation – we reported on the crisis more than a year ago – it has certainly not improved during the pandemic.

In a press release recently the National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA) has proposed incentives designed to attract investors back to the buy to let market in the face of evidently dwindling interest among landlords.

The NRLA is calling on the government to scrap the 3% stamp duty surcharge on the purchase of second homes if the investment results in a landlord adding to the available housing stock. Examples of such investments include those where new dwellings are built, commercial units are granted a change of use to residential occupation, and large properties are subdivided into flats.

The press release points to surveys showing that the supply of rented accommodation in the suburbs, towns and villages is significantly down on previous years, while demand continues to be high, and rent levels are rising. For the first time since 2011, for example, average rents outside London increased during the final quarter of 2020 to a record new high of £972 a month.

Cumbria village is top-yielding buy-to-let hotspot

As if to underline the post-lockdown appeal of renting out of town, on the 8th of February Property Wire carried a story identifying several hotspots for landlords looking to maximise rental yields.

Top of the hotspots were the twin villages of Parton & Distington in Cumbria where landlords in this little-known district are currently achieving returns of an impressive 8.52%. The villages are between the Cumbrian towns of Workington and Whitehaven with Carlisle and the beauties of the Lake District within an easy drive.

Yet another grouping of Cumbrian communities – Flimby, Ellenborough & Broughton Moor – come in second place, with rental yields of 7.87%.

Other hotspots identified in the survey include: Loftus & Skinningrove, in Cleveland (with yields of 7.67%); Shildon in County Durham (7.2%); and Tarpoint in Cornwall (6.88%).

Tube house prices fall by up to 11% since start of Covid

Once upon a time, a home close to a London underground station could be assured of commanding a healthy premium.

Property Investor Today, on the 8th of February, however, reported that since the beginning of the present pandemic, the average price of homes in such previously highly sought-after locations has fallen by 2%.

Whereas the average price of a house near a tube station was £655,017, it has now dropped to £642,674.

Property prices have fallen according to the underground line they are close to:

  • Waterloo and City – a fall of 11%;
  • Circle Line – 7%;
  • Northern, District and Hammersmith and City – 4%
  • Jubilee – 2%; and
  • Bakerloo and Piccadilly – 1%.

Prices close to the Central and Metropolitan Lines have stayed more or less the same, while those bordering the Victoria Line have bucked the trend by increasing some 2% on average.

How you can improve your chances of beating the stamp duty holiday deadline

The 31st of March is fast approaching – and with it the scheduled end of the current Stamp Duty holiday which promises house buyers savings of up to £15,000.

With the completion of a house purchase now taking an average of 110 to 115 days (rather than the 90 days pre-pandemic), many buyers run the risk of overshooting the tax holiday deadline – and losing out on their potential savings.

On the 4th of February, online listings website Zoopla offered some tips on beating the deadline:

  • make sure to have all of your paperwork to hand in advance;
  • set yourself realistic targets and keep to that timetable;
  • carefully manage any property chain involved in the transaction;
  • ensure your conveyancer is playing their part in an efficient and timely manner;
  • don’t be put off by or let others brow-beat you with property jargon; and
  • hope for – but don’t bank on – the government extending the Stamp Duty deadline. The Treasury has indicated that it is prepared to listen to representations on the subject.

What can the average house price get you across England?

Of course, it’s always good to know average house prices across England. But what do those prices mean? What kind of property might you be able to afford?

An article by Property Reporter on the 8th of February suggested some answers. It compared the current national average house price of £266,742, with the size of property (defined by its overall floor area) that the money would buy in different parts of the country.

In London, for example, paying the average national house price would get you a home of a very modest 366 square feet.

In the Southeast and East of England, prices are also so high that if you could afford only the national average, it would net you a property of less than 700 square feet.

Contrast this with market conditions in, say, the Northeast of England, where the average home measures 748 square feet but costs an average of just £140,248. If you paid the national average house price of £266,742, therefore, you could be splashing out on a home covering an impressive 1,423 square feet.