Are Ashford Builders Constructing the Wrong Type of Property?

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The British housing market has never been so newsworthy. Every other day, there is an article in the newspaper or online about impending house price drops, house price rises, building on green belt, mortgage rates up/down, first time buyer affordability and the woes of being a buy to let landlord, to mention but a few. As a nation, we have a strong national desire to be homeowners.

The English
Housing Survey stated the proportion of owner-occupied households increased
steadily from 52% in the early 1980s to 2003 when it reached its peak of 71%.
Since then, owner occupation gradually declined to 63% in 2014, yet in fact
increased to 64% in 2017 and has stayed there since.

One of the
main motives of home ownership is the prospective tax-free capital appreciation
that can be obtained. It’s no wonder the phrase ‘as safe as houses’ is popular
in the English language, as many homeowners use homeownership as a nest egg or
even a pension pot, as savings rates are at extraordinarily low levels.

Yet even
with the news that homeownership is on the rise, the biggest seismic shift to
the Ashford property market is the growth of the rental market, which has more
than doubled in the last 15/20 years. So how can the social housing sector
(Council Housing) remain roughly at the same level since the millennium,
homeownership slightly grow, yet the private rental sector be so huge? Well it
comes down to the fact that many more homes have been built in Ashford in the
last 15/20 years, and a lot of them have been bought for buy to let, or Ashford
homeowners with second hand starter homes have also sold them to buy to let
landlords and they have bought larger brand new homes.

Yet the
question we wanted to ask is … are we building the right sort of homes, especially
when it comes to the number of bedrooms? Whilst the data doesn’t exist for Ashford,
the country’s stats are available and it makes fascinating reading…

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Looking at
the graph in 2008, 59% of new homes built were one and two beds, yet last year
that had dropped to 35%.

The
Housing Minster said recently he was concerned that new homebuilders were
building the wrong types of homes in the wrong places at the wrong prices. Many
(not all) tenants are tenants because they can’t afford the deposit and as there
is a direct coloration between the rent’s landlords charge and tenant’s earnings
(i.e. as earnings go up, rents go up and vice versa), and earnings for
the last seven years have been subdued, the property tenants have been able to
afford in Ashford are the smaller one and two bed properties. Yet a lot of
these tenants are now having families (with the need for larger property with
three, even four bedrooms).

Looking at
the stats for Ashford, it can be seen the vast majority of homeowners live in
the larger properties with more bedrooms, whilst private rental tenants are in
the smaller properties (with less bedrooms).

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Our concern is – will young families and professionals be able to afford to live and work in Ashford, especially as the local authorities are unable to build council housing (Social Housing)?

One symptom of all these issues mentioned above is the massive growth in multi-family households (i.e. households containing two or more families), which have increased by 42% in under a decade. Now of course many will be because of older couples moving in with their adult children yet many are unrelated families sharing a house, something that simply should not be happening in 2019.

If we
don’t increase the supply of the ‘right’ sort of homes, what will their living
conditions be like?

Whilst we are still a country of homeowners and even though there has been a slight growth in numbers, the long term trend is downwards if we don’t build enough of the ‘right’ new homes, in the ‘right’ location and the ‘right’ price, Ashford people will continue to increasingly rent … which will only be good news for Ashford’s buy to let landlords.

Taylors Residential Lettings Limited, Company no. 6002742, Regd Office: Suite 1, Invicta Business Centre, Monument Way, Ashford TN24 0HB