The good old days of the 1970’s and 1980’s eh … with such highlights low lights as 24% inflation, 17% interest rates, 3 day working week, 13% unemployment, power cuts … those were the days (not)… but at least people could afford to buy their own home. So why aren’t the 20 and 30 something’s buying in the same numbers as they were 30 or 40 years ago?
Many people blame the credit crunch and global recession of 2008, which had an enormous impact on the Letchworth (and UK) housing market. Predominantly, the 20 something first-time buyers who, confronting a problematic mortgage market, the perceived need for big deposits, reduced job security and declining disposable income, discovered it challenging to assemble the monetary means to get on to the Letchworth property ladder.
However, I would say there has been something else at play other than the issue of raising a deposit – having sufficient income and rising property prices in Letchworth. Whilst these are important factors and barriers to home ownership, I also believe there has been a generational change in attitudes towards home ownership in Letchworth (and in fact the rest of the Country).
Back in 2011, the Halifax did a survey of thousands of tenants and 19% of tenants said they had no plans to buy a home for themselves. A recent, almost identical survey of tenants, carried out by The Deposit Protection Service revealed, in late 2016, that figure had risen to 38.4%, with many no-longer equating home ownership to success and believing renting to be better suited to their lifestyle.
You see, I believe renting is a fundamental part of the housing sector, and a meaningful proportion of the younger adult members of the Letchworth population choose to be tenants as it better suits their plans and lifestyle. Local Government in Letchworth (including the planners – especially the planners), land owners and landlords need an adaptable Letchworth residential property sector that allows the diverse choices of these Letchworth 20 and 30 year olds’ to be met.
This means, if we applied the same percentages to the current 2,805 Letchworth tenants in their 1,330 private rental properties, 1,077 tenants have no plans to ever buy a property – good news for the landlords of those 511 properties. Interestingly, in the same report, just under two thirds (62%) of tenants said they didn’t expect to buy within the next year.
.. but does that mean the other third will be buying in Letchworth in the next 12 months?
Some will, but most won’t … in fact, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) predicts that, by 2025, that the number of people renting will increase, not drop. Yes, many tenants might hope to buy but the reality is different for the reasons set out above. The RICS predicts the number of tenants looking to rent will increase by 1.8 million households by 2025, as rising house prices continue to make home ownership increasingly unaffordable for younger generations. So, if we applied this rise to Letchworth, we will in fact need an additional 570 private rental properties over the next eight years (or 71 a year) … meaning the number of private rented properties in Letchworth is projected to rise to an eye watering 1,900 households.
For more insight and thoughts like this on the Letchworth Property Market – please visit the Letchworth Property Blog at: www.letchworthpropertyblog.co.uk.