Monday, 19 June 2017

Northwood Warminster Wins British Property Awards For Warmisnter!

On the whole I don’t use my blog or newsletter to promote the business. However this week
Northwood Warminster won The British Property Awards for Warminster, and I am immensely proud and honored to work with such a dedicated team of professionals.

After an extensive judging process which involved all the agents in town being mystery shopped Northwood came out in top! We work tirelessly to maintain high levels of customer service and it’s incredibly rewarding when this is recognised.

Northwood Warminster have now been shortlisted for a number of national awards which will be announced later in the year at ceremony British Property Awards in central London.

Friday, 16 June 2017

379,830 People use Warminster Train Station a year - So what’s that got to do with the Market?

It might surprise you that it isn’t always the villages around Warminster or the perceived desirable Warminster streets where properties sell and let the quickest. Quite often, it’s about access to the best transport links. I mean, there is a reason why one of the most popular property programs on television is called Location, Location, Location!

As an agent in Warminster, I am frequently confronted with queries about the Warminster property market, and most days I am asked, “What is the best part of Warminster, or best village to live in these days?”, chiefly from new-comers.  Now the answer is different for each person – a lot depends on the demographics of their family, their age, schooling requirements and interests etc. Nonetheless, one of the principal necessities for most tenants and buyers is ease of access to transport links, including public transport – of which the railways are very important.

Official figures recently released state that, in total, 522 people jump on a train each and every day from Warminster Train station. Of those, 124 are season ticket holders. That’s a lot of money being spent when a season ticket, standard class, to Bristol is £2,252 a year.

So, if up to £279,250 is being spent on rail season tickets each year from Warminster, those commuters must have good jobs and incomes to allow them to afford that season ticket in the first place. That means demand for middle to upper market properties remains strong in Warminster and the surrounding area and so, in turn, these are the type of people whom are happy to invest in the Warminster buy to let market – providing homes for the tenants of Warminster…

The bottom line is that property values in Warminster would be much lower, by at least 1% to 2%, if it wasn’t for the proximity of the railway station and the people it serves in the town

And this isn’t a flash in the pan. Rail is becoming increasingly important as the costs associated with car travel continue to rise and roads are becoming more and more congested. This has resulted in a huge surge in rail travel.  

Overall usage of the station at Warminster has increased over the last 20 years. In 1997, a total of 206,409 people went through the barriers or connected with another train at the station in that 12-month period. However, in 2016, that figure had risen to 379,830 people using the station (that’s 1,043 people a day).

The juxtaposition of the property and the train station has an important effect on the value and saleability of a Warminster property. It is also significant for tenants - so if you are a Warminster buy to let investor looking for a property - the distance to and from the railway station can be extremely significant.

One of the first things house buyers and tenants do when surfing the web for somewhere to live is find out the proximity of a property to the train station. That is why Rightmove displays the distance to the railway station alongside each and every property on their website. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Should the 2,808 home owning OAP’s of Warminster be forced to downsize?

This was a question posed to me a few weeks ago, after reading one of my articles. After working hard for many years and buying a home for themselves and their family, the children have subsequently flown the nest and now they are left to rattle round in a big house. Many feel trapped in their big homes (hence I dubbed these Warminster home owning mature members of our society, ‘Generation Trapped’).

So, should we force OAP Warminster homeowners to downsize?

Well in a previous article, I suggested that we as a society should encourage, through building, tax breaks and social acceptance that it’s a good thing to downsize. But should the Government force OAP’s?

Well, one of the biggest reasons OAP’s move home is health (or lack of it).

Looking at the statistics for Warminster, of the 2,808 homeowners who are 65 years and older, whilst 1,661 of them described themselves in good or very good health, a sizeable 894 home owning OAPs described themselves as in fair health and 253 in bad or very bad health.

9.01% of Warminster home owning OAP’s are in poor health

But if you look at the figures for the whole of Wiltshire Council (not just Warminster), there are only 2,482 specialist retirement homes that one could buy (if they were in fact for sale) and 3,259 homes available to rent from the Council and other specialist providers (again- you would be waiting for dead man’s shoes to get your foot in the door) and many older homeowners wouldn’t feel comfortable with the idea of renting a retirement property after enjoying the security of owning their own home for most of their adult lives.

My intuition tells me the majority ‘would be’ Warminster downsizers could certainly afford to move but are staying put in bigger family homes because they can't find a suitable smaller property. The fact is there simply aren’t enough bungalows for the healthy older members of the Warminster population, and specialist retirement properties for the ones who aren’t in such good health ... so, we need to build more appropriate houses in Warminster.

The Government's Housing White Paper, published a few weeks ago, could have solved so many problems with the UK housing market, including the issue of homing our aging population. Instead, it ended up feeling annoyingly ambiguous. Forcing our older generation to move with such measures as a punitive taxation (say a tax on wasted bedrooms for people who are retired) would be the wrong thing to do. Instead of the stick – maybe the Government could use the carrot tactics and offer tax breaks for downsizers. Who knows – but something has to happen?

.. and come to think about it, isn’t the word ‘downsize’ such an awful word?  I prefer to use the word ‘decent-size’ instead of ‘down-size’- as the other phrase feels like they are lowering themselves, as though they are having to downgrade themselves in their retirement (and let’s be frank – no one likes to be downgraded).

The simple fact is we are living longer as a population and constantly growing with increased birth rates and immigration. So, what I would say to all the homeowners and property owning public of Warminster is ... more houses and apartments need to be built in the Warminster area. But particular attention needs to be given to providing decent sized accommodation for the older generation, especially more bungalows. The Government had a golden opportunity with the White Paper – and were sadly found lacking.

And a message to my Warminster property investor readers whilst this issue gets sorted in the coming decade(s)  – maybe seriously consider adding bungalows to your portfolio – people will pay handsomely for them – be they for sale or even rent.