Bringing West Hampstead insight to national property statistics

Sponsored post

Every week newspaper headlines vary between ‘house prices rise’ or ‘house prices fall’ – but which headline is accurate?

We thought we’d delve behind the headlines for this month’s West Hampstead Life column; we’ll be sharing some interesting stats and sprinkling them with some local insight to bring them to life.

First-time buyers
Nationally, the number of first-time buyers is down compared to 20 years ago, and according to the English Housing Survey, the average age of first-time buyers now stands at 33 years old. However, although there is no question that the average age of first-time buyers has steadily increased over the years with a direct correlation to property price inflation, the reality is more nuanced. That’s because the age at which someone buys for the first time is dependent on their personal circumstances.

For example, we receive many enquiries from first-time buyers who are getting considerable support from their parents. In these instances, parents either have cash or equity they can release from the family home, therefore bridging the affordability gap for their children who only need to take out a mortgage for an amount that’s affordable to them.

First-time buyers in this scenario typically live at home and are in the early stages of their first job after completing a degree. This gives an average first-time buyer age of around mid- to late-20s, a stark contrast to the majority of first-time buyers whose parents can’t raise such a large amount of ‘spare’ cash – and therefore spend years saving for a deposit whilst renting. For this self-sufficient majority, the average age is early- to mid-30s.

Private rented sector
Nationally, 4.5 million households rent in the private sector, and that figure is likely to grow (with many developers now choosing to build specifically to rent rather than sell). On average the weekly rent in London is £309, but in West Hampstead it’s around the £430 mark. Despite it costing more than average to live in West Hampstead, we’ve found that local tenants pay less in rent as a percentage of their income, compared to the wider London market.

In general, the number of families living in the private rented sector has grown significantly over the last decade. Although we haven’t seen this too much in West Hampstead, there has been an increase in young families with children under four renting in the area.

Neighbourhood
According to the English Housing Survey, 88% of Londoners are ‘satisfied’ with their neighbourhood. We’re sure most West Hampstead Life readers are more than ‘satisfied’ with their neighbourhood and reckon we’d score higher than average!

What’s interesting is that the London data shows a slight discrepancy in levels of happiness between those that rent and those that own their own home – but in our experience, this isn’t the case for West Hampstead. We’ve found that renters rarely leave the area and do so only if they want a complete change in lifestyle.

Local update
Stats aside, it’s been a slow start to the year. However, the change in the weather has helped both the sales and lettings markets; throughout March we’ve been contacted by vendors seeking pricing advice as well as tenants looking to move and settle before summer begins.

On the sales side, there’s a healthy demand from buyers looking for a first or a better home in and around West Hampstead. What’s noticeable though is how discerning buyers are being, and they’re certainly less prepared to compromise than they’ve been in the past.

On the lettings side, we’ve noticed a lot of applicants moving from Hampstead and Belsize Park to West Hampstead. These tenants tend to be professional couples looking for extra value for money who now perceive West Hampstead at nearly the same level as Hampstead and Belsize Park. Naturally, we agree, and there’s no doubt that the significant improvements to transport infrastructure and amenities along West End Lane have helped shine a light on the area.

To get accurate market advice for your property, please do get in touch to arrange your personal market appraisal or pop in to see us at our West End Lane Office, on the edge of West Hampstead Square.

Jonny Miller and Matthew Spencer

T: 020 7481 2907
E:
W: www.johnsand.co
JOHNS&CO, Unit 7, Hardy Building, West End Lane, London, NW6 2BR

West Hampstead property price rises set to outpace London average

Sponsored post

It can be easy to generalise when talking about the London property market. However, London has often been described as a collection of villages, each with its own unique style, atmosphere and charms. For this reason, when discussing the London property market, it’s important not to look at the capital as the sum of its parts but to understand that each borough is its own entity.

Such distinct differences result in significant variations in the growth rate of property prices between boroughs and the dynamic nature of this vibrant capital means that growth can be sustained but it can equally take place in short focused bursts. For instance, between 2009 and 2015, property values in Kensington and Chelsea increased by 65%, whilst growth in boroughs on London’s periphery was up to three times lower. Then from 2014 to 2017, growth in the exclusive Royal Borough all but stopped, whereas property in the outer London boroughs experienced a 46% increase in value.

A recent study by CBRE has shown that in 2017, Camden experienced by far the highest increase in property values of all London boroughs with a 13.4% growth in prices. The research argues that this trend is set to continue over the next five years, likely due to new developments in the borough and improvements to transport infrastructure and local amenities such as those occurring all along West End Lane.

With prices likely to continue to grow in the borough, the importance of getting an accurate market appraisal was highlighted recently when we ran a ‘guess the house price’ competition. Recent visitors to our West Hampstead estate agency had the opportunity to guess the price of a property in NW6 as part of a prize draw. Entrants had internal and external images to look at as well as a short description of the property to help with their guesses. Over the course of the day it became apparent that competition entries varied wildly, with people significantly under or overvaluing the property.

This emphasises the importance of using a knowledgeable agent to advise and guide you on the best price to market your property. Accurately priced properties are able to sell because they are appealing to both seller and buyer and it takes a highly experienced agent to understand where that balance sits for each property.

To get accurate market advice for your property, please do get in touch to arrange a free appraisal or pop in to see us at our West End Lane Office, on the edge of West Hampstead Square.

T: 020 7481 2907
E:
W: www.johnsand.co
JOHNS&CO, Unit 7, Hardy Building, West End Lane, London, NW6 2BR

P.S. I’m thrilled to announce that next month’s Property News will be co-written by my new colleague Matthew Spencer, who has recently joined us as Lettings Manager. If you’d like to get in touch with him before then please email or call 020 7481 2907.

Positive sentiment in West Hampstead property market for 2018

Sponsored post

As we move into 2018, there are signs that the property market in West Hampstead is improving. Despite what others may say, there is evidence of a market out there for those looking to sell their home. With changes to stamp duty in the autumn statement and the hesitation caused by Brexit beginning to settle, there is an increased optimism surrounding the property market as we begin the new year.

The high level of activity we’ve been experiencing in north-west London is a reflection of the upturn in confidence buyers have in the market. A recent poll conducted by The Times discovered that 41% of the British public believe that house prices will rise in 2018, with only 14% believing that they might fall. The Guardian has also reported that industry professionals are predicting a rise in house prices of up to 3% this year.

Our ability to tap into this positive market sentiment and rise above the obstacles other agents may be struggling with is proven by our recent successful sale of a one-bedroom apartment that achieved a record price for its address. This property had been on the market for a while with the owner coming under pressure to reduce the price. We also agreed the sale of another apartment in the centre of West Hampstead on the December 22nd, our last working day of 2017!

The success we’ve had in selling such properties comes from having the positivity and confidence brought about by our phenomenal success in handling the sale, rental and management of apartments at West Hampstead Square. With offices across London and in Asia we have a database of thousands of buyers, both in the UK and overseas. This means we aren’t reliant purely on the confidence of local buyers, and as such are able to avoid being mired in the more static local market. Our achievements are even more impressive considering we’ve accomplished them before officially launching our West Hampstead office, with marketing not yet in full swing.

If you are thinking of selling or renting your property in 2018, or have been on the market for a while and are frustrated by lack of progress or constant negativity, then please get in touch with us for a free initial consultation.

We look forward to hearing from you.

T: 020 7481 2907
E:
W: www.johnsand.co
JOHNS&CO, Unit 7, Hardy Building, West End Lane, London, NW6 2BR

P.S. We also want to say a big thank you to everyone who donated to our Christmas Foodbank collection. Across our offices we collected more than a thousand items of food and toiletries, and we hope to improve on that in 2018.

A new perspective on West Hampstead’s property market

Sponsored post

The new year will see the official opening of Johns&Co’s estate agency office at West Hampstead Square, bringing with it a fresh, new outlook on the property market in West Hampstead and surrounding areas.

If the name sounds familiar to you, it might be because we’re the preferred partner of West Hampstead Square developer Ballymore and have already been based on site, working alongside Ballymore arranging the sales and subsequent rental and management of the five blocks of 144 apartments.

The West Hampstead Square scheme has now been sold, let and managed, and whilst we are marketing thousands of new homes from Nine Elms to Canary Wharf, we still have a significant database of buyers and investors looking for property in this part of London. Having so successfully achieved our original objective at West Hampstead Square, we decided to extend our expertise to homeowners in the area, so they too can take advantage of the appetite for homes we have been experiencing since we first came to West End Lane.

As a seasoned Sales Manager from the local area I’ve joined Johns&Co to help meld their international expertise to the needs of homeowners and landlords in the local market. I began my career in this area aged 19 as an office junior, took charge of my own branch for the first time at 21 and have honed my particular brand of highly personal estate agency service over subsequent years. I have successfully run businesses for some of London’s largest companies, including Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward and Hamptons International. During 35 years in the property industry I have become highly experienced in the fields of property development and new homes which led me to become a sales manager for a major regional developer for a number of years, before returning to my first love of estate agency.

I missed the relationships with people that I enjoyed so much in estate agency. I typically assist a client for months, from providing initial advice on accurate pricing and marketing, to then helping them achieve their life goals by either selling or renting their property. I get to know my clients very well and the quality of this relationship is what makes all the difference to a successful outcome. It’s not uncommon for my clients to become friends – I have friends who were first of all clients 20 years ago. I’ve even helped some of their children with the difficult task of getting onto the property ladder, renting at first and then buying their first home, and always being on hand to provide guidance and assistance every step of the way. There is one family friend who I recently helped to buy two properties, one for their daughter and family and the other for their sons.

I’m often asked to share my in-depth knowledge of all things property and recently ran a free property workshop at the request of local community centre JW3 on Finchley Road, where I provided guidance and answered the questions of local people who were looking for expert advice on how best to sell and buy in the current climate.

While preparations are well underway for the official opening at the start of January, I’m already busy talking to local people about their proposed sale or purchase in the new year. So if you’re thinking of moving or would like to benefit from my local experience and the international reach of the team at JOHNS&CO, then call and arrange to see me on 020 7481 2907 or email me at .

Similarly, if you are looking to rent your property to prospective tenants, our Lettings Manager Jordan Charles-Jones is also on hand to assist you with all aspects of Lettings and Management from the heart of West Hampstead. Jordan can be reached on 020 7481 2907 or on email to .

We look forward to meeting you.

How rich must you be to afford “affordable” housing?

After many people – including West Hampstead Life – made a fuss about the lack of affordable housing provision in the Liddell Road scheme, Camden promised that the 156 West End Lane scheme would meet the 50% affordable housing quota by floorspace.

The development, which was given the go-ahead by the planning committee on Thursday, ended up with 79 affordable flats, or 49.8% of floorspace. Except, you could argue it’s not even that.

Take a deep breath as we dive into the murky waters of what is and isn’t affordable housing – and quite how much money you need to get some for yourself.

First, the good news.

Of those 79 affordable flats, 44 are “affordable rented” (and equate to 30% of total floorspace). According to the planning officer’s report, the rents have been set at Camden’s target social rented rate. In 2014/15, the average cost of Camden council’s housing rent was £475 per month. To give you an idea of how that relates to the local private rental market, one-bed flats in the area on Rightmove start from about £1,250 per month.

You can therefore argue that these rented properties are indeed affordable.

Now the bad news.

The remaining 35 units (20% of total floorspace) are ‘shared ownership’ properties. This still nominally falls under so-called “intermediate” affordable housing. Intermediate includes both affordable rented and shared-ownership but excludes social housing (aka “council houses”), which is a separate category. There is no social housing planned for 156 West End Lane.

How affordable is shared ownership? We looked at the nearby Central development on Iverson Road where a one-bed shared-ownership flat is being marketed.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of shared ownership – as at least a couple of councillors on Thursday night were clearly not – then here’s the primer:

Shared ownership means you take a stake (often 25%) in the property and any mortgage you need is based on that value. You then pay rent on the remaining share (say, 75%) to the housing association that manages the property. There are also service charges. Over time, most people try to increase their stake. The scheme is supposed to be a way to get ownership with much lower financial requirements. Typically a deposit of only 5% is required.

Let’s go back to this Iverson Road property to see what it would cost.

The full market price of the flat is £550,000. A 25% share is £137,500. There’s a required 5% deposit of £6,875.

An "affordable" shared ownership flat on Iverson Road.

An “affordable” shared ownership flat on Iverson Road.

Critically, the details specify a minimum household income of £65,000. Shared ownership schemes in London are available to anyone with a household income below £90,000. For this one, you must also be a Camden resident and almost certainly a first-time buyer (the rules here are not black & white).

The median gross income in Camden is £39,610 (higher than the London average of £33,203) [Source].

Therefore, a Camden couple who both earned the average income would have a combined gross income of £79,220, and would be eligible to buy this property. Note that the average London-wide income would only just make them eligible.

They have got their deposit together and need to borrow £130,625. Shared ownership mortgages are a specific product. We have used the Leeds Building Society shared ownership mortgages to calculate the costs.

At current rates, a 3-yr fixed over a 25-year period, reverting to the standard-variable rate after 3 years and with no fees, works out at an overall rate of 5.3%. According to the Moneysavingexpert site, this leads to an average monthly payment of £787.

But remember, that’s just on the 25% you own. Our average Camden couple have then got to pay rent on the remaining 75% and Origin tells us that this is £688/month, plus a £150 monthly service charge.

Total monthly payment: £1,625.

That’s a high monthly payment for a quarter of a flat. There are standard 25-year mortgages available at the moment with representative APRs of 1.5% (they require 20% deposits). Take one of those and you could borrow £400,000 and end up with the same monthly payment of ~£1,600. The cheapest 1-bed flat (not studio) in the area is on for £279,950, but if you wanted that nice Iverson Road flat at market value you’d still need to find a £150,000 deposit on top of your £400k mortgage. The system works therefore at one level – it makes property affordable for people who otherwise couldn’t possibly afford it.

Nevertheless, to get that “affordable” flat in Iverson Road under the shared-ownership scheme, you still need to have a household income equal to two median Camden incomes, and pay out £1,625 a month. For 25% of it. And if you’re wondering, a joint income of £65,000 (assuming you both earned £32,500 each and had no dependents) would place your household in the top 11% of household incomes in the country according to the IFS. Our average Camden couple would be in the top 7%.

The red bar on the right shows your household income relative

The red bar on the right shows a gross household income of £65,000 (net £50,000) relative to national household incomes (based on two adults each earning £32,500).

Is there a solution?
Camden seems to already recognise that affordable renting is far more affordable than shared ownership. According to the 156 report, in April 2016, the council’s cabinet stated that it would “seek to secure affordable intermediate housing… by encouraging all developers and housing associations to provide intermediate rent rather than shared ownership units as the intermediate housing element of their affordable housing contribution to developments’ [our emphasis].

This development was a test of this new strategy but clearly it’s not working.

Indeed, the report for 156 West End Lane suggests that our calculations above could wildly underestimate what a shared ownership flat might cost: “[The] increase in property values has meant that it is no longer possible to deliver shared ownership at a price that is affordable to the council’s target income groups earning £30,000 to £40,000 per year.”

Back to 156 West End Lane. On the basis of what is called “affordable housing”, yes, Camden has delivered 50%. In terms of what a reasonable person might consider to be affordable – perhaps not.

We welcome comments from council officers, or housing associations to correct any assumptions we’ve made here.

Property News: Impact of abolishing tenants’ fees

David MatthewsTenants will be delighted at the announcement last week that administrative fees to tenants are to be banned, effective immediately. Whether costs to landlord might increase as a result is yet to be seen. Our view is that anything that can be done to improve transparency in our business has got to be positive. Flushing out the less scrupulous of our industry is what all good agents want to see happen. For tenants worried that this policy will result in an increase in rents, fear not, we can’t see this happening. We think that the industry is going to innovate around this to the benefit of tenants and landlords.

We are looking forward with anticipation to the completion of Heritage Lane (a.k.a. West Hampstead Square). We are reliably informed that the first two blocks will complete in late January and have been approached by landlords looking to let flats in these blocks. Having had a number of tours of the scheme, we love the specification, especially the unusual choice of brass fixtures and fittings as opposed to the normal chrome. A heritage finish for Heritage Lane, so to speak.

We are also agents on the commercial units at Heritage Lane and have seen huge demand from local businesses and healthcare practitioners for space. To compliment west Hampstead’s new M&S, due to open early next year, we are excited to add more to West End Lane’s growing commercial offerings. We recently secured Gails and soon look forward to announcing another ‘tasty’ addition to the high street….

David Matthews
Dutch & Dutch
174 West End Lane
West Hampstead
NW6 1SW
020 7794 0075

Sponsored article

Frustrated buyers face more delays at Ballymore

West Hampstead Square still isn’t finished. As you will have noticed.

Progress is being made as recent tweets show but it’s well overdue, and while it’s annoying for locals as the roads clog up with lorries delivering materials, for those who’ve bought apartments (some of whom are existing West Hampstead residents), the delays are going from frustrating to potentially financially damaging.

West Hampstead Square - when will it be finished?

West Hampstead Square – when will it be finished?

The original completion date was June 2015. But, in June this year, with development already a year behind, Ballymore ditched the original construction company, O’Hare McGovern, and took over itself. After taking stock of the situation, it predicted completion by the end of this year. However, since then the company has ‘encountered further obstacles’, according to a letter sent to anxious buyers, which have now set the completion date back another three months. The latest is that no-one will move in until the start of next year and some flats won’t be ready until March. Anger is starting to bubble up.

“Ballymore has taken me and other buyers for granted,” says one local buyer who wants to remain anonymous. “The delay is frustrating, but what’s unacceptable is the manner with which they have drip-fed delays this year, rather than giving a realistic estimate from the start.”

Another buyer felt “it has been very poorly dealt with and has been very stressful” but now he just “wants to get it done to stop spending unnecessary money”.

The problem buyers face is that as soon as the actual completion date is announced, they have just 10 days to provide the balance of the money. Anyone tempted by a premature completion date announcement might find themselves having given notice or sold their existing property only to end up being told to hold on – again.

One buyer, for example, was initially told he could move in by June, but was then told that completion was expected in September, then October, then late October, then early November, then late November. By the end of October it was going to be completing in early December, but just a few days later that was pushed back to the end of January.

Aside from the practicalities of knowing when to move out, these flats were sold pre-Brexit and the uncertainty in the run-up to that vote and in the aftermath has dampened the property market somewhat. Private buyers are probably OK, according to Jon Hughes at local estate agent Benham & Reeves. Overall, the market has softened though underlying prices remain stable, but transaction volume is down.

Buy-to-let investors, who will surely make up a significant percentage of West Hampstead Square owners, will find things a little more difficult. Before construction started, the predicted rental price for a two-bed at West Hampstead Square was £650-£700 per week according to one local agent. In today’s market, he suggested sub-£600 seems more realistic. In addition, mortgage criteria have tightened (though rates are still low) and there is additional 3% stamp duty to pay on second homes.

Any off-plan purchase comes with an element of risk – economic circumstances and personal finances can change unexpectedly over the course of 12 to 18 months – but when a build is running more than 18 months late that risk is exacerbated. We know of some buyers who are have had issues with the sale of their previous properties, others who have sold to release the funds and now need to ask landlords to extend their leases. For anyone not in the super-rich or professional property investor category, these delays are both expensive and upsetting.

It is not just residents who have been affected. Businesses had been hoping to move in before the bouyant Christmas trading period. The latest news is that they will be able to start their shop fit-outs in December, but they won’t be able to open until January at the earliest. Apparently, Marks & Spencer may not open until February.

It seems that buyers have no legal recourse to compensation for the delays despite being strung along for months and possibly well over a year. In fact, in the small print of the contract, Ballymore can complete as late as 2018! All in all it is stressful situation for the buyers, several of whom have expressed their frustration to WHL. If you have experienced these problems or others, drop us a line. We asked Ballymore for a comment, but no-one has returned our calls.

Brexit tests the nerves of West Hampstead property market

David MatthewsIt won’t be a surprise that it’s been a testing couple of weeks for London property. Tenants, buyers and indeed sellers have gone “a little quiet” to quote an understated fellow West Hampstead estate agent.

The post-referendum market feels very unnerved by the decision to leave the EU. Commercial property funds have been closing their doors, house builders’ shares have seen big falls and locally there are examples of buyers pulling out of purchases or re-negotiating the price.

This is of course all a fairly predictable outcome given the result of the referendum. After all the prime minster predicted house price drops of up to 20%, which was never going to instil confidence in a market already starting to feel a change in the wind. As it happens, we haven’t seen anything like 20% falls and most buyers are proceeding with fairly modest single figure percentage discounts at most.

The outcome of the referendum has been the catalyst, crystallising changes in the market that were already taking root. Stamp duty increases and the removal of mortgage interest relief were already putting downward pressure on prices, which of course was the intention of these policies in the first place. So no bad thing there, at least for the first-time buyers who are the intended beneficiaries.

However, Brexit uncertainty has potentially so many more wide-reaching consequences. How it will affect the property market in London is unknown. Only when the exit route is laid out and we have some idea what an independent UK will look like, will we be able to predict the impact on demand, supply, house prices, rents, housing policy and so on. Until then there will be a lot of questions on people’s minds: Is now the time to move? I was thinking of upgrading, is now the time to get a bigger mortgage? Is now the time to sell my investment flat? Are prices going to fall further?

What is certain is that it is uncertainty causing the problems. The route to EU exit is pretty unclear and there is no one at the helm. In time this will change, a new prime minister, and perhaps a new government, will take control, the fog will gradually clear and the market will find its feet.

The good news is that many young people still place huge importance on buying their first home. This week, we agreed the sale of a one-bedroom flat in NW6, at the asking price, to a first-time buyer who is very excited at the prospect of owning her first home–a desire too strong to be eroded by current economic and political uncertainty.

David Matthews
Dutch & Dutch
174 West End Lane
West Hampstead
NW6 1SW
020 7794 0075

Sponsored article

Five ways to boost your chances of renting or selling… without using an estate agent

There are a number of things you can do to try and maximise your income when renting or selling your property and a more ‘hands on’ approach to marketing and managing costs can reap financial rewards. So, despite an estate agent on every corner in West Hampstead, here’s some alternatives I’ve come across while in the process of renting my flat.

1. Emulate the copywriting professionals. Look on Zoopla and Rightmove to see how similar homes are described and see what ideas you can adapt to market your own. For example, a small home might be described as ‘cosy’ and a home with a loft might highlight the opportunity to convert it into an extra bedroom. Also accentuate the positives of living in West Hampstead, like the fantastic transport, shopping facilities, parks and culture – and a great local website – for people new to the area.

2. Take high quality photos. Make sure that the room is as bright as possible. Take photos during the daytime with open curtains and switch all the lights on. Take photos 1.5 meters from the ground and from the corner to capture as much of the room as possible, being particularly careful to include any key room features.

3. Use the major property portals. For £49, OpenRent.co.uk offers the opportunity to upload your photos and description of your rental flat to the major property portals including Rightmove (where you can find my flat), Zoopla and Prime Location. You also get an advertising board and phone number to put outside your West Hampstead property. The price also includes a tenancy agreement, deposit collection, and tenant referencing, which I think makes it excellent value.

4. Launch your own online advertising campaign. Google Adwords are the adverts you see on the right hand side of Google search results. They work by you selecting the words/phrases you want to bid on; for example, “rent two bedroom flat in West Hampstead”. You then draft a short advert with a link to your property listing. Your advert is then displayed when someone searches for the words or terms you chose and you pay Google a small fee (I pay on average 12p) every time someone clicks on your advert. By clicking on this link you can get a free £75 credit for GoogleAdwords when you spend £25.

5. Promote your property through social networks. Share your online property listing via your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts with your connections, and ask them to share it with their friends too. This immediately opens your network. Also look for opportunities on online local community sites such as Camden Netmums, to direct people to your property listing.

Of course, many people do turn to estate agents. An estate agent should complement, not duplicate, your own marketing efforts as they can access customers you can’t. They have shop fronts, databases of people looking to move to West Hampstead and may have relationships with corporate clients. As you don’t pay an agent until they find you a tenant, spread your bets, compare the offers that come in and then choose the option with the best financial return (after deducting any agent fees.)

Property News: Prices up but supply still stifled

MatthewSheldon_grey

Two months on from my last article, and it is very interesting to see where the property market now finds itself. Although confidence has very much returned in the knowledge we have a Conservative government, the initial knee-jerk reaction to the election result hasn’t necessarily followed through and although the market has improved since early May, it hasn’t developed in the manner that many people were anticipating.

Prices are most definitely on the rise: one national newspaper reported that asking prices were up as much as much as 17% in London following the election. This is certainly supported by some the offers that we have been receiving recently, which have broken records for the area. West Hampstead in particular is benefiting from its neighbouring areas becoming too expensive, which is inflating the volume of applicants considering the area and therefore pushing up the prices. Family houses are particularly well received in terms of the value for money on offer compared to what is being sold on the other side of the Finchley Road.

One factor that hasn’t changed dramatically over the past couple of months is the level of available property to buy. I regularly speak to potential purchasers frustrated with the lack of homes for sale. The Bank of England reported for the month of May that one in three mortgage applications were for re-mortgaging.

What are the consequences of these figures? The surge in house prices over the last few years has given many the opportunity to buy their next home without having to sell their current home, which is having an impact on instruction levels. This has a knock-on effect on those potential vendors who do need to sell to move as they simply aren’t seeing enough property come onto the market to give them the confidence to make their own home available. The lack of stock in some instances is proving a stumbling block for agreeing sales and is delaying a number of transactions from exchanging contracts. One of the national agents reported this May that they were 17.7% down on exchanges compared with May 2014.

It is widely expected that the autumn will be the strongest period of the year. The initial euphoria of the election result has cooled slightly and it is clear that the market is still finding itself. Once that has happened, I’m very much expecting that we will see a fair balance of supply and demand as well as realistic price growth.

Matthew Sheldon
Manager
Benham & Reeves
West Hampstead
020 7644 9314
Follow @BenhamReeves

Sponsored article

Property News: Tenants on the move

Now the dust has settled I finally feel like we can share some of our feelings about how the General Election affected the lettings market this year. Although it certainly hasn’t shaken up the market, we have noticed a couple of significant shifts in the months immediately post the 2015 General Election.

The first point of note is that following the General Election we have experienced more tenants serving notice to terminate their contracts than is usual for this time of year. After speaking to these tenants the consensus is clear; tenants were nervous about what the outcome of the General Election might mean for them and waited for the results before searching for a property for sale.

We’ve found that tenants who previously rented at the higher end of the local market are doing all they can to get onto the mortgage ladder as interest rates continue to remain historically low since the General Election. There’s a clear mortgage battle in play between the market lenders too and some tenants in the area are using this opportunity to benefit from competitive rates for first time buyers with a small deposit or low loan-to-value.

I’ve mentioned in previous articles that over the last few years tenants are staying in the same rental property for longer as the private rented sector becomes the norm for many Londoners. Due to this it’s always really interesting to speak to tenants when they serve notice to understand where they are going next. Since the General Election the majority of tenants who have served notice on their West Hampstead rental property have done so because they’re searching for or found a property in the local area. With property prices at an all-time high in London, this strongly suggests that tenants like to trial an area before committing to an expensive purchase.

Although more tenants are moving on than usual for this time of year, demand still significantly outstrips supply. As usual this comes with a caveat; applicants are very sensitive to the quality of the product and even in a buoyant market properties that do not suit the taste of the searching demographic will sit empty. Considered capital investment is imperative when attracting tenants, with a further benefit being a direct correlation between a well maintained property and length of tenancy. At Paramount we’ve found that well finished and fully managed rental properties boast average tenancy lengths of 36 months.

We’ve also seen a small rise in the number of landlords who have decided to sell their buy-to-let investments this year. Landlords who have owned their rental properties for 10+ years with low gearing are leading this trend, and some have decided to look for new buy-to-let opportunities in different areas that offer more value to tenants to ensure they continue to attract young professionals.

Those looking to rent in West Hampstead will be pleased to know that we have plenty of properties coming onto the market this month. This is a great time to search for something new as the market will only get busier with applicants as the summer season progresses.

Spencer Lawrence
Lettings Director
Paramount Properties
150 West End Lane
West Hampstead
020 7644 2314

request a lettings valuation

Sponsored article

Property of the Month: June

This month’s property from Paramount is a two bedroom flat on Inglewood Road in West Hampstead.

Inglewood Road, West Hampstead, NW6
£495 pw

Inglewood Road balcony

Inglewood Road Bathroom

Inglewood Road Kitchen

Inglewood Road Living Room

This stylish two bedroom property in West Hampstead is available to rent now. We especially love the amazing views across London from the balcony.

The property has a spacious living room with wood flooring, open plan kitchen with integrated appliances (including a wine cooler!), bathroom with shower, master bedroom with fitted wardrobes and a second double bedroom. The flat is available part furnished.

Set within a prestigious mansion block close to the amenities and transport links in West Hampstead, this is a great place to call home.

Admin charge is £120 inc VAT. Inventory is £100. There are no renewal fees if you decide to renew the tenancy.

Paramount | 020 7644 2315
150 West End Lane London NW6 1SD | Email:
http://www.paramount-properties.co.uk/rent/search/details/2-bedroom-property-to-let-in-West-Hampstead-NW6-parrps-PAR150083

Sponsored feature

Property News: The impact of the election on house prices

MatthewSheldon_grey

The waiting is finally over. After months of predictions and speculation, we now know that the country will be led by a Conservative government. So where does this leave the property market? Generally speaking, house prices increase more under a Tory government. In fact, according to the Nationwide house price index, since 1970, they have risen at an average of 19 percent per year compared to 10 percent a year under Labour administrations.

It is widely expected that this trend will continue. The threat of a ‘Mansion Tax’ has now been quashed and this will prevent any potential rigidity that there would been in pricing at around the £2 million mark. Owners of properties in this price bracket now have a degree of flexibility around the asking price they can set and this will allow the market to dictate what each property is actually worth. The Mansion Tax would have devalued those homes worth more than £2 million and that could well have had ramifications for prices further down the market.

Buyer confidence will certainly return. I have been dealing with a few situations where prior to the election we had received offers that weren’t acceptable to our clients. The potential buyers came back to us and said that they would consider increasing their offer once they knew outcome of the election. Within hours of the results, they increased their offers. We also had new instructions and only a day later, one of those new properties received an asking price offer.

Another real problem over the past few months has been the lack of supply, in particular between £1.5 and £3 million. There have been very few family homes for buyers to choose from and that should now change for obvious reasons. However, demand will increase too and it will be interesting to see where the market goes from here.

Are we going to see another housing bubble? It is a distinct possibility, particularly in the short term as I feel that the election result provides a real shot in the arm for the market. In the long term, however, it is imperative that the market reaches more of an equilibrium. According to Nationwide, house prices are now 9 percent below their peak, suggesting positive price growth for at least five years. In order to create stability over the longer term and to encourage a more gradual rise in house prices, it is crucial that more land is released for house building. The Conservatives plan to deliver 200,000 new homes, which they are prioritising for first time buyers. This will certainly come as welcome news to the house building industry and will go some way towards aiding a more sustainable property market in the long run.

There is certainly an element that the market will still need to find its natural level, but the outlook is certainly positive. An increased level of supply, with the potential for a measured house price growth over the coming years makes this a really good time for buyers and sellers alike.

Matthew Sheldon
Manager
Benham & Reeves
West Hampstead
020 7644 9314
Follow @BenhamReeves

Sponsored article

Property of the Month: May

This month’s property from Benham & Reeves is a large 2-bedroom flat on prestigious Crediton Hill.

Crediton Hil
West Hampstead, NW6
£825,000 (Guide price)
Sole agent

CreditonHill exterior

CreditonHill living room

CreditonHill bedroom

CreditonHill view

An excellent two-bedroom apartment of approximately 850 sq ft on the second floor (top) of an attractive Victorian conversion on one of West Hampstead’s premier roads.

The apartment, which is particularly bright throughout, comprises a generously sized master bedroom that boasts fabulous views of the neighbouring gardens and has access to an en suite, a second double bedroom, a spacious reception room, separate kitchen and an additional bathroom. The property has a rather homely feel to it as well as a certain charm and would make an ideal rental investment or first time purchase.

Crediton Hill is situated just moments away from the amenities, leisure facilities and multiple transport links that West End Lane has to offer whilst being a not too distant walk from the open green spaces of Hampstead Heath.

2 bedrooms * 2 bathrooms (1 en-suite) * reception/dining room * kitchen/breakfast room * residents parking zone

West Hampstead Sales Office | 020 7644 9300
106 West End Lane London NW6 2LS | Email:
http://b-r.co.uk/property/details/100135672

Sponsored feature

Property News: Rental market buoyant in run up to election

With the General Election looming we’ve been looking back at the last five years in terms of the local property market. Since the last election we’ve seen the introduction of the Help to Buy scheme and a reform of stamp duty, with the latter saving the average first time buyer in West Hampstead thousands of pounds.

Labour is pledging 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 in its manifesto (vs. the Liberal Democrats’ 300,000), in order to create much needed new homes. Labour also wants to address letting agents’ fees to tenants and change legislation in favour of three-year tenancies. Meanwhile the Conservatives want to extend Right-to-Buy to tenants in Housing Association properties and double the number of first-time buyers in comparison to the last five years.

We took a closer look at some of our own statistics to see how things have changed since the last election. We’ll be publishing content regularly on the Paramount blog in the lead up to the election, but one thing we’ve identified so far is that in Q1 2015 there has been a 22% decrease in 18-24 year olds showing interest in properties to rent and buy in West Hampstead compared to the same period in 2010, with a 20% increase in 25-34 year olds looking in the area. I doubt this will come as a surprise to many, with London in general often out of reach for buyers and tenants alike.

Politics aside, as we head into the second quarter of 2015 the lettings market is buoyant. Enquiries have increased month on month since the start of the year, which is usual for the lettings market. The market historically picks up considerably after the Easter bank holiday weekend and this year was no different, with a lot of applicants looking to find new suitable homes over the last week and a half. We expect garden flats to be extremely popular over the next few weeks now that the daffodils have appeared and the daylight hours have got longer.

There continues to be a fair amount of properties for tenants to choose from, although good quality, competitively priced one and two bedroom properties are letting in record time. It’s a notable change since March – just one month ago tenants were taking longer to commit to properties, and landlords were finding the market quite competitive.

Despite the ever fluctuating nature of supply and demand locally, rents have increased by approximately 3% compared to this time last year. In some instances rents have increased by much higher than this, but that’s occurring more in Queens Park than in West Hampstead.

Although demand for properties is high, landlords need to continue investing in the properties. Quality of stock is very important and tenants expect a quality finished product to move into. Landlords that deliver this will find excellent tenants who want to treat the property like a home in a very short space of time.

Spencer Lawrence
Lettings Director
Paramount Properties
150 West End Lane
West Hampstead
020 7644 2314

request a lettings valuation

Sponsored article

Property of the Month: April

This month’s property from Paramount is a two bedroom flat on Gladys Road, West Hampstead.

Gladys Road, West Hampstead, NW6
£400 pw

Gladys Road Living Room

Gladys Road Bedroom

Gladys Road Bathroom

Gladys Road exterior

The property is a beautiful raised ground floor flat set within a period conversion. The property has wooden flooring throughout, a bright reception room, separate kitchen, tiled bathroom and both bedrooms have fitted storage.

Located in the heart of West Hampstead it’s close to all transport links and popular local shops.

The property is part furnished and is available to rent now.

Admin charge is £120 inc VAT. Inventory is £100. There are no renewal fees if you decide to renew the tenancy.

Paramount | 020 7644 2315
150 West End Lane London NW6 1SD | Email:
http://www.paramount-properties.co.uk/rent/search/details/2-bedroom-property-to-let-in-West-Hampstead-NW6-parrps-PAR150041

Sponsored feature

West End Lane could soon be clear of agents’ boards

Last February, we reported on local resident Alan Grogan’s campaign to rid West End Lane of the large number of estate agents’ boards that were attached to many properties along the road. Many agents responded swiftly to our article and, within a couple of weeks, had voluntarily removed their boards from buildings. However, quite a few of the signs still remain up more than a year later.

This week, just as Foxtons added to the glut of estate agents on West End Lane, Alan got the news he’d been hoping for. Camden Council has submitted the Regulation 7 Application to ban all estate agents’ boards for the stretch of West End Lane between the tube station north to David’s Deli. This means that barring any major objections, the proposal should pass in the next few months.

Alan said that he is hoping the ban will come into effect “in time for the summer and we’ll have a very, very nice looking high street”.

Two of the signs still on West End Lane that would have to come down if Camden’s proposal is passed

 

 

 

Property News: Pre-election uncertainty holding high-end market back

MatthewSheldon_grey

New year, new face. I am the new manager of Benham & Reeves’ West Hampstead office. I have arrived from our Hampstead Office, having previously worked for a large international company as well another local independent company.

It has been an interesting start to the year. Available properties are relatively thin on the ground and one would be forgiven for thinking that this would mean be a lot of competition on each available instruction, as the number of buyers certainly exceeds the level of supply. However, so far that hasn’t appeared to have been the case and we are in a very price sensitive market. If the asking price of the property is correct and seen as reasonable then we are seeing a strong number of viewings, followed by relatively quick interest, leading to an agreed sale. Those properties that are deemed expensive are sitting on the market with too few viewings and then end up having to be reduced. The upshot can actually be that they sell for less than they are worth as the aggressively high initial asking price creates a negative sentiment around the property the longer that it remains on the market.

These market conditions are in keeping with recent reports about mortgage lending. According to the council of Mortgage Lenders, lending in January was down 14% from December and 11% from January last year. Buyers have to feel tempted to come and have a look at properties in order to act, and some of the unrealistic prices that are being asked are leading to a reduction in the lending figures as well as sales figures, which were down by 6% according to the HMRC compared to January 2014.

Of course, for those properties that have something a little bit extra special, it’s still realistic to achieve a premium figure. We were recently instructed on a property at a prime South Hampstead address – an absolutely stunning flat. The marketing figure was correct, it attracted a decent level of viewings, and is now under offer at what will be a record pound per square foot price for its road, should contracts be exchanged.

If we look at the market for properties above the £2 million mark, then we certainly see the effects of the upcoming election. The uncertainty surrounding the threat of a “Mansion Tax”, is causing people to think twice about moving before May. Anyone who owns a home worth more than £1.5 million is starting to feel a little bit unsure about the potential repercussions should we see a Labour or Labour-led government, and this is certainly causing buyers and sellers in this price range to hold fire. That explains both the distinct lack of available property above £2 million, but also between £1.5 and £2 million. The amendments to the stamp duty thresholds have also had an impact in this sector. A number of transactions were either renegotiated or, in some cases, fell through, as buyers were hit with a much greater tax bill than they were expecting when a sale was originally agreed.

Having said all of that, if the asking price is realistic, there is still interest in this area of the market. We were instructed to sell a house on Goldhurst Terrace, at £3.75 million, and simply due to the lack of stock available at this price, there were four buyers interested in the house and it is now under offer. I have been suggesting to some potential vendors over the past couple of months that it may be a good time to think about selling as while most people are unsure about moving given the uncertainty, there’s less competition from other sellers, and there are buyers out there. After the election, we could see a lot more coming onto the market.

What is a certainty, is that I am very much looking forward to there being clarity and to what will hopefully be a very stable market. People were of the opinion that the early months of last year were good for estate agents, but those of us in the business knew all too well what was to follow. It appears that the market is more realistic now and there has undoubtedly been a correction in the prices. Once the uncertainty is cleared up, I am confident that we will see a much healthier balance within the market.

Matthew Sheldon
Manager
Benham & Reeves
West Hampstead
020 7644 9314
Follow @BenhamReeves

Sponsored article

Property of the Month: March

This month’s property from Benham & Reeves is a 4-bedroom Victorian home near Hampstead School.

Richborough Road
West Hampstead borders, NW2
£1,150,000
Sole agent

Richborough Road external

Richborough Road kitchen

Richborough Road living room

Richborough Road garden

A stunning four bedroom semi-detached Victorian home of approximately 1500 sq ft. Presented in excellent decorative order throughout, featuring two wonderful reception rooms, both with high ceilings, ornate cornicing, as well as working fireplaces. The property has a fabulous kitchen diner with doors opening out on to a spacious patio garden area, the garden can also be accessed via the side of the house. Comprising three generously sized bedrooms, one with a luxury en suite bathroom, a single bedroom and another shower room. This property, which is one of the larger houses on Richborough Road, also boasts having an off street parking space for one small car.

Located within easy reach of both Kilburn (Jubilee Line) and Cricklewood Thameslink stations, the property is also located a not too distant walk from the popular Mapesbury Dell and benefits from being situated in the Camden School’s catchment area. The house has potential for further scope to improve and extend the accommodation by extending into the loft space (subject to the necessary consents).

Family homes offering such fantastic entertaining space and in this condition are rarely available to the open market and early viewing is advised.

4 bedrooms * en-suite shower room * bathroom * 2 reception rooms * kitchen/dining room * guest WC * front & rear gardens * off-street parking for one car

West Hampstead Sales Office | 020 7644 9300
106 West End Lane London NW6 2LS | Email:
http://b-r.co.uk/property/details/100134717

Sponsored feature

Property News: West Hampstead tenants’ extra expectations

I’m worried that I’ve started to sound like a broken record. Every two months I write about the rental market for West Hampstead Life, and every two months I say the same thing: demand for rental property in West Hampstead is sky high.

I promise you that this isn’t laziness on my part. Demand for rental properties in West Hampstead continues to grow, especially for one and two bed flats. These flats are regularly on the market for just a matter of days before contracts are signed and a move-in date is set.

Although demand has been continuously high for many years, not everything remains the same though. One thing we have noticed over the past year is that our applicants now have an excellent knowledge of the local rental market. They do their research, they understand how the market operates and aspirational levels are rising too. They’re familiar with the property specifications found in new build developments and they expect this standard of presentation from all rental properties. We regularly feed this information back to our landlords and encourage them to treat their rental property as a business, by injecting regular investment into the property by way of new carpet or a new kitchen if needed.

Demand might be strong but applicants won’t accept a property if it doesn’t match their expectations. In order to let property as quickly as possible so we can avoid void periods, we advise landlords to present the flat to the best of their ability. Presentation is key when attracting tenants, and that includes communal areas as well as the property itself. The entrance of a residential building is equally important, and landlords who own flats in a period conversion should consider joining forces with other owners to smarten up communal areas if necessary.

Feedback from tenants in 2015 highlights that proximity to an underground station is high on most of their wish lists. Properties further than 10 minutes from the tube are slower to let and applicants would rather compromise on square footage if the location is good. It’s always been about an applicant’s lifestyle choices, and proximity to excellent transport links is more important than ever.

As I mentioned earlier, applicants have a better knowledge of the local property market than ever. The internet is key for sharing information and it’s great to see more and more people aware of what is happening in the local market. Perhaps because of this applicants are very sensitive to price, and they are prepared to negotiate to reach an agreement that is acceptable to them. Landlords who are also prepared to negotiate a bit will find their property lets more quickly.

In order to provide the very best service to applicants, tenants and landlords we’ve needed to expand our business. I’m thrilled to welcome two new Lettings Negotiators to the Paramount team, and I look forward to sharing their experience of working in West Hampstead with you over the coming months.

Spencer Lawrence
Lettings Director
Paramount Properties
150 West End Lane
West Hampstead
020 7644 2314

request a lettings valuation

Sponsored article

Property of the Month: February

This month’s property from Paramount is a three bedroom flat on West End Lane.

West End Lane, West Hampstead, NW6
£525 pw

West End Lane_living room

West End Lane_kitchen

West End Lane_bathroom

West End Lane_bedroom

This second floor flat has three double bedrooms and is available from 5th February. The open plan kitchen is fully kitted out with integrated Siemens appliances, and leads onto a spacious reception room.

The property is located on West End Lane, enviably close to the three West Hampstead stations. It’s also above the Paramount office which means we’ll happily act as a concierge service. We’re able to collect deliveries on your behalf which you can conveniently collect from our office after work.

The property is let and managed by Paramount, so tenants will benefit from a 24/7 management service.

Admin charge is £100+VAT. Inventory is £120. There are no renewal fees if you decide to renew the tenancy.

Paramount | 020 7644 2315
150 West End Lane London NW6 1SD | Email:
http://www.paramount-properties.co.uk/rent/search/details/3-bedroom-property-to-let-in-West-Hampstead-NW6-parrps-WST100068

Sponsored feature

Property of the Month: January

This month’s property from Benham & Reeves is a 1-bedroom flat in West Hamptead Square.

West Hampstead Square, West End Lane
West Hampstead, NW6
£579,950
Joint agent

West Hampstead Square_living room

An opportunity to buy an ‘off plan’ 1 bedroom apartment on the second floor of Block C in the brand new West Hampstead Square development adjacent to West Hampstead tube station on West End Lane. Due for completion in Spring 2015 these flats have proved enormously popular with end users and investors alike due to the location and high end specification.

Bedroom * bathroom * reception room/open plan kitchen * balcony

West Hampstead Sales Office | 020 7644 9300
106 West End Lane London NW6 2LS | Email:
http://b-r.co.uk/property/details/100133557

Sponsored feature

Property News: Protect those pipes this winter

December is notoriously quiet in the property industry and, once again, the local lettings market has seen reduced stock levels during the latter part of November and the month of December.

One of the reasons we are quiet on the lettings front is because of our seasonal lock-outs. For many years our tenancy agreements have included a lock-out period precluding landlords and tenants from serving notice during this timeframe. This protects landlords from void periods or being forced to accept reduced rates, both possible consequences when marketing a rental property at this time of year. Equally there is a lack of availability for tenants and the quality of the product tends not to be as good.

At Paramount we use this opportunity to gain new business by taking the time to nurture our existing database. This year the winter months have also allowed us to get our lettings team out and about visiting tenants, to make sure they are happy and settled before the festive period. Consequently we have been made aware of a few lingering maintenance issues that we can now fix quickly to ensure product control.

We have also been providing guidance to our tenants about keeping their property safe and warm over the winter months, which is good advice for all:

Going away this winter?

  • Leave your heating on for at least an hour a day while you are away to stop the pipes freezing
  • Leave your heating on all day and night at your usual temperature setting in severe weather conditions
  • Ask a friend or neighbour to check in at your property whilst you are away so any emergencies, like burst pipes, are detected as quickly as possible
  • Secure ladders and any garden furniture to prevent any damage if there are high winds

Keep your home warm

  • 16°C is the ideal minimum temperature and your main living room should be between 18-21°C
  • Draw your curtains at dusk to help keep the heat generated inside your rooms
  • Use thermal curtain lining on the inside of your curtains
  • Keep radiators free of obstructions to allow heat to pass around the room
  • Prevent cold air moving around the house by closing internal doors

Reduce energy costs

  • Turn off radiators in rooms you don’t use often
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs when possible
  • Wash clothes at 30 degrees and air dry them when possible

For low income and vulnerable households there is support available through the Warm Home Discount, which can provide a discount on your energy bill of £140 in 2014/15. Phone your energy suppliers to see if you are eligible. Another easy way to get your energy bills down is to switch to the lowest possible tariff. To do this contact your energy supplier and competitors and ask to be put on the best tariff.

Insurance
It always surprises me how many tenants have never had any kind of contents insurance. There seems to be a strong misconception that while living in a rented property, a landlords building insurance will cover a tenant’s possessions. Unfortunately this is not the case. Should your house or flat be burgled or flooded, your landlords insurance will only cover the building and their furniture and fixtures.

Unfortunately we witnessed an instance like this earlier in the year, when a basement flat had been flooded in the freak rain we had in September. While the landlord was able to claim on their own buildings insurance for repairs to the flat, the tenants’ possessions, including a computer and phone, had been so damaged they were unable to be repaired.

It might not sparkle, but if you buy yourself one Christmas gift this year invest in tenants’ contents insurance. It may be your best investment of the year.

Spencer Lawrence
Lettings Director
Paramount Properties
150 West End Lane
West Hampstead
020 7644 2314

request a lettings valuation

Sponsored article

Property of the Month: December

This month’s property from Paramount is a two bedroom Lyncroft Gardens flat.

Lyncroft Gardens, West Hampstead, NW6
£460 pw

Lyncroft_living1

Lyncroft_living2

Lyncroft_bedroom1

Lyncroft_bedroom2

A large (926 sq ft.) beautifully appointed two bedroom flat is available in West Hampstead from 27th January 2015.

The flat is set within a well maintained mansion block close to West End Lane, local amenities and excellent transport links.

The property has a bright and spacious reception room with high ceilings, two large double bedrooms, fully fitted kitchen/diner with all appliances, bathroom and separate shower room.

Neutrally decorated throughout, the property has access to communal gardens and is available unfurnished.

Admin charge is £100+VAT. Inventory is £100. There are no renewal fees if you decide to renew the tenancy.

Paramount | 020 7644 2315
150 West End Lane London NW6 1SD | Email:
http://www.paramount-properties.co.uk/rent/search/details/2-bedroom-property-to-let-in-West-Hampstead-NW6-parrps-WST140113

Sponsored feature

Property News: What will drive the housing market in 2015?

At this time over the last couple of years I have had a go at predicting what’s in store for the local sales market in the next 12 months. On both occasions, with a bit of good fortune and hopefully not too much smugness, I have got it mostly right; so here are my thoughts on this year and predictions for 2015.

Like any great football match, this year has been a tale of two halves. Although I forecast the majority of the growth in prices would come in the first half of the year I did not envisage the slow-down in demand from August onwards. The spectre of an interest rate rise was always on the horizon, which at some point would have slowed the market, but it was the MMR changes to mortgage borrowing requirements and the surprise resurrection of the Mansion Tax that really put the brakes on.

The change in mortgage criteria has meant that lenders are now lending 3 to 4 times salary as opposed to 5 or 6. It also means that all outgoing expenses, including school fees, dry cleaning etc.. are now considered when assessing someone’s ability to repay their mortgage. We have also seen the end to interest-only mortgages. This has all taken the froth off prices by simply reducing the amount buyers are able to offer.

The Mansion Tax proposal by the Labour party has created an uncertainty about future affordability too. The London market needs sales of £2 million-plus properties to keep the wheels turning and the temporary withdrawal of some of these buyers has affected demand across all price ranges.
So, the factors in the mix for 2015 are interest rates, the election, the economy and, as ever, supply and demand.

Financial markets are now predicting small interest rate rises for the middle of 2015 and that they will then rise gradually to 3% over the next few years. Although the UK economy is growing there is still some cautious sentiment amongst investors and businesses about the sustainability of this due to the weakened European economies. However, UK employment is on the up and the outlook seems set to fair. Recent low inflation of 1.2% means that interest rate rises are more likely to be after the general election.

Yes, the election. It seems to be the subject on most buyers’ and sellers’ minds at the moment and I suspect a lot of people are waiting for the outcome before making a decision about their property-owning future. I have just sensed recently that a consensus is growing that Labour will not get in this time around.

The low supply of new and existing property in London is well documented and West Hampstead is no different in this regard. Even though there has been a fall in demand, we have not witnessed a huge influx of property on the market, meaning that although price growth has stopped, achieved prices are not yet falling back from those set earlier in the year. If a property comes to the market at a realistic price there will be a healthy demand for it.

Property industry heavyweights Savills and Knight Frank are predicting growth between -0.5% and 3.5% for London in 2015. I believe that by the time of the election a backlog of demand will have built up and we could potentially see a strong market for London and West Hampstead for the rest of the year assuming the Conservatives are elected. Given that interest rate rises are likely to be minimal and that there are some excellent fixed mortgage deals available, together with confidence in the wider economy and continuing poor supply, I can still see enough room in the market for further increases of up to 5% across 2015 in our area, although this will all come after May.

As the next Property News will be in January, may I take this opportunity of wishing you all a happy Christmas and New Year and thank you for taking an interest in my articles to-date.

Darryl Jenkins
Associate Director
Benham & Reeves
West Hampstead
020 7644 9300
Follow @BenhamReeves

Sponsored article

Property of the Month: November

This month’s property from Benham & Reeves is a 5-bedroom house in need of work on Pandora Road.

Pandora Road, West Hampstead, NW6
Guide price £2,000,000
Joint agent

Pandora Road_external front

Pandora Road_reception

Pandora Road_room

Pandora Road_garden

A fantastic opportunity to create a wonderful family home from this 5-bedroom Victorian house in need of complete refurbishment. Pandora Road is a sought after, quiet road within easy walking distance of the excellent transport links, cafés, restaurants and shops of West End Lane.

5 bedrooms * 2 bathrooms (1 en suite) * 2 reception rooms * kitchen * cellar * front & rear gardens* residents parking zone

West Hampstead Sales Office | 020 7644 9300
106 West End Lane London NW6 2LS | Email:
http://b-r.co.uk/property/details/100134807

Sponsored feature

Property News: Rental oversupply on the horizon?

In our last property news article we asked “what influences you when choosing lettings agents”? The results were clear; reputation and recommendations are what matters to you the most.

Reputation and recommendations accounted for half of the answers submitted, whilst membership of a professional scheme (eg ARLA, London Rental Standard) came in at third place. It’s easy to cast aspersions based on the results, but it does strongly suggest to me that potential tenants are often overwhelmed (or should that be underwhelmed?) by high street lettings agencies and turn to friends, family and social media to seek out an agent they can start to trust.

There seems to a consensus that the higher the rent the better the lettings agent will be. This saddens me as there should be no correlation between product price and service in the lettings industry; every potential tenant regardless of budget or location is entitled to a professional, transparent service when renting a home. It’s easy to compete with other agents when they don’t even offer a basic professional service, but I’d much rather there was a minimum standard all had to adhere to in the industry. If this was the case all good lettings agencies would push themselves further, seeking to go above and beyond in order to offer the best possible customer experience.

July to September are traditionally the busiest months in the lettings calendar with new stock coming onto the market from July. This cyclical calendar caters to students and new graduates who typically search for properties ahead of courses and graduate schemes starting in September. This year international students drove the demand, mostly due to the area’s proximity to several excellent universities and business schools. Now we are in October stock is starting to dry up and we don’t have enough properties to cater for the demand.

This month it has been really interesting to see where new business has come from. We’ve seen a significant shift in landlord demographic, with 50% of new instructions coming from first time landlords. These new landlords have often been seconded overseas and are looking to rent their own homes out in order to maintain an investment in London.

Last Property News we used HomeLet rental index data to show that average rental values in North West London were £1,739pcm. One month later and the rental index shows average rents increased to £1,750pcm. This is now similar to the average rents in South West London of £1,785pcm, and 19.5% above the average rental price for Greater London which stands at £1,464pcm.

Although rents are currently strong in West Hampstead, a potential risk to the local rental market is the level of new stock being brought to the market by developers and overseas investors. Until a few years ago West Hampstead was relatively untapped for investments, but now the area has been found by those attracted to strong capital growth rather than rental yield.

The brand new developments being constructed on West End Lane, Maygrove Road and Iverson Road will see rental supply increase dramatically in 2015 and 2016. At this point we expect rents to come under pressure with a potential dampening effect on rental growth across a wider area, despite a broader and deeper pool of tenants.

Demand will continue to be strong and I’m confident that the best of West Hampstead is yet to come. We’ve always had excellent independent shops and the arrival of a greengrocer’s earlier this year and the promise of a butcher in the near future ensures the high street is catering to local’s daily needs.

On the topic of food, we’re lucky to have a great view of the new daily food market from our office and encourage you try it out if you’re yet to do so! We’ve noticed increased footfall between 4pm-8pm and we hope it continues to do well. Friendly vendors, excellent food and communal seating areas all add to the village feel; it might be a cliché but West Hampstead feels more like a community than ever.

Spencer Lawrence
Lettings Director
Paramount Properties
150 West End Lane
West Hampstead
020 7644 2314

request a lettings valuation

Sponsored article

Property of the Month: October

This month’s property from Paramount is a two-bedroom apartment on Hilltop Road.

Hilltop Road, West Hampstead, NW6
£495 pw

Liv

Kit Reverse

Ext Close Up

Bed 2

A large (936 sq ft.) two double bedroom flat is available in West Hampstead from the 31st October, close to transport links and the amenities of West End Lane. The bright flat is located on the second floor of a detached property on the quiet and tree-lined Hilltop Road.

The flat has a bright reception room with wood flooring, adjoining kitchen, master bedroom with ensuite shower room, a second double bedroom, tiled bathroom with shower and eaves storage. The property is part furnished.

Admin charge is £100+vat. Inventory is £100. There are no renewal fees if you decide to renew the tenancy.

Paramount | 020 7644 2315
150 West End Lane London NW6 1SD | Email:
http://www.paramount-properties.co.uk/rent/search/details/2-bedroom-property-to-let-in-West-Hampstead-NW6-parrps-PAR140037

Sponsored feature

Property News: September

I heard the news like everyone else last week that Foxtons had applied for planning permission for change of use of the old Post Office. Not surprisingly, my immediate thoughts were also like most residents – not ANOTHER estate agent! I then read, more recently, that there had been 20 complaints registered with Camden planning against the opening on the basis of too many estate agents in the high street (staggeringly, there are 29) and that the area does not need ‘the kind of business’ that Foxtons are.

But, can Foxtons really be blamed for all these estate agents? And what can be so bad about a company that is listed on the stock exchange and has made its original owner somewhere in the region of £925m (Sunday Times Rich List) based on the principle of making more money for home owners? It occurred to me that the issues communities like West Hampstead and other high streets face are much greater than stopping the opening of another estate agent will solve.

Firstly, the reason there are so many estate agents on London’s high streets is simple – easy money. When I say easy, I mean that there are very few barriers to entry. Anybody can either start their own agency or start work immediately without any formal qualifications or membership of a governing body. On top of this, most small to medium agencies provide no initial or on-going training meaning that your property could be sold or let by someone who has very little experience or knowledge of the conveyancing and letting process (even in the bigger brands). Since the 1960s house prices have climbed inexorably skyward significantly outstripping real earnings along the way. As estate agents are paid on a percentage of the sale or lettings figure this has meant that the lure of large fees with no barriers to entry has attracted so many agents to our high streets.

Although these large numbers have created some downward pressure on fees, they still remain largely the same as they have for many years, that is between 1% and 2% for sales and 9% to 10% of the first years rent for rentals, meaning that a 3 bedroom maisonette in West Hampstead of say, £750,000 (average for the area) or £600 per week will command fees of £7,500 to £15,000 for sales or between £2,800 and £3,120 for lettings. As of today’s date there were 648 properties listed for sale on Zoopla and 1145 for rent in NW6 so it’s easy to understand the attraction of claiming a piece of this potentially rewarding market without too much up-front investment.

There is an Ombudsman scheme for sales agents but membership of this is not compulsory and the punitive powers are very limited. A better scheme exists for lettings agents called ARLA, which provides guidelines and ethics requiring qualifications to be a member of, but again, is not compulsory.

I would like to see the introduction of a licence system similar to that operated in the US. This requires completion of nearly 100 hours of study of the sales and lettings process along with conveyancing law and ethical conduct guidelines in order to gain a licence to operate. Complaints would be dealt with by the overseeing body which has the power to revoke any licence. I believe this would go a long way to reducing the number of agents on the high street and also provide the consumer with some much needed comfort that the process was being handled by a qualified agent with an independent and impartial point of contact for redress if things do go wrong.

Secondly, the problems of the high street have been well documented recently, especially in the Portas Review conducted for the coalition government. The changes in the way we shop by either going on-line or to out of town shopping areas where access and parking are easy, has meant that fewer businesses are attracted to high street premises, especially when their rivals are not present. High rents, rates and generally outdated buildings requiring expensive repairing lease obligations in high streets where there is only passing footfall on the way to transport links (especially in West Hampstead) and nowhere to park, make these very unattractive to most retailers. Resulting in a high street typical of West Hampstead, with coffee shops, estate agents, charity shops, betting shops and fast food restaurants where convenience and turnover is key, not dwell times or pleasant shopping experiences.

The juxtaposition of this situation is that the coalition government is focussed on a planning policy of ‘Town centre first’ planning as outlined in the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework). Developers are forced towards town centres by planning policies which involve passing centric and impact tests for any developments which are outside of the town centre. This is making it even harder to redevelop existing sites, which in some cases are empty shops, as developers are reluctant to invest in these sites as things stand.

Isn’t it time to accept that town centres in the traditional mould are no longer viable? Many of those who protest that the protection of our ‘village feel’ is paramount are perhaps missing the point. With residents who are only in transition through the high street shouldn’t we be developing new mixed use sites that incorporate leisure facilities with retail outlets making the town centre a more pleasant destination of choice which would more accurately reflect a village feel? The success of the O2 centre and JW3 go some way to demonstrating the popularity of this mix. The West Hampstead Square development also offers a mix of leisure facilities close to transport which has been incredibly popular and now sold out. Until the focus of change for our high streets is different premises like the Post Office will only be attractive to those businesses that can be profitable in the existing high street. Initiatives to regenerate the high street as a retail destination have so far stalled. In West Hampstead the Farmers market and food stalls although popular, demonstrate the transitory nature of passing trade rather than a shopping destination.

Perhaps the biggest conundrum of Foxtons is that most people I speak to seem to agree that buying, renting or selling through them is a pressured and uncomfortable experience. Phrases like ‘not the type of business West Hampstead needs’ are bandied about, but the reality is that when it comes down to it, people choose to use them. It’s not a ‘Marmite’ company, where you either love them or hate them, but a company which most seem to hate but secretly use. Like a dirty little secret, or an R Whites Lemonade drinker, for those of you who remember. It’s a simple model; win instructions with the promise of higher prices and then generate large numbers of viewings. In other words, more cash for you. The model works because it has enough success to justify its promise to other sellers or renters.

Arguably, Foxtons have made a large contribution to the London price boom over the last 20 years which has benefited many owners and Landlords in the process. Whether this is good or bad is another discussion. Of course, if you would like to achieve the same results with a more accessible and personal service please feel free to get in contact.

The other potentially good news for all naysayers is that industry experts predict the death of the high street agent in the next 20 years with agents moving to the on-line model. I’m not sure what high streets will be looking like then though?

Naturally, I am not looking forward to their arrival, but if we want to reclaim the high street we need to rethink our strategy for the future.

Darryl Jenkins
Associate Director
Benham & Reeves
West Hampstead
020 7644 9300
Follow @BenhamReeves

Sponsored article

Property of the Month: September

This month’s property from Benham & Reeves is a 3/4-bedroom apartment in need of work on Gondar Gardens.

Spring Mansions, Gondar Gardens, West Hampstead, NW6
£865,000
Sole agent

Spring Mansions_external

Spring Mansions_reception

In need of complete modernisation, a 3/4 bedroom mansion flat offering bright and flexible accommodation comprised of rooms with high ceilings, period features and far-reaching views, arranged over the top floor of an end of terrace characterful and grand period building.

Gondar Gardens is a quiet residential road located off Mill Lane and within easy reach of the restaurants, cafes, shops and excellent transport Links of West Hampstead.

3/4 bedrooms * bedroom4/reception room * bathroom * reception room * study * kitchen * residents parking zone

West Hampstead Sales Office | 020 7644 9300
106 West End Lane London NW6 2LS | Email:
http://b-r.co.uk/property/details/100133918

Sponsored feature