Thursday, March 24, 2016

Only 1,814 Council Houses in the Melton Mowbray area left – opportunity or problem?

The ‘Right to Buy’ scheme was a policy introduced in 1980 which gave secure council tenants the legal right to buy the Council home they were living in with huge discounts. The heyday of Council ‘Right To Buys’ was in the 80’s and 90’s, when 1,719,368 homes in the country were sold in this manner between October 1980 and April 1998. However, in 1997, the discount available to tenants of council houses was reduced and the numbers of properties being bought under the Right to Buy declined.

So what does this mean for Melton Mowbray homeowners and landlords? Well quite a lot in fact!

Looking at the figures for our local authority, whilst the number of ‘Right to Buys’ have dwindled over the last few years to an average of only 7 ‘Right to Buy’ sales per year, one must look further back in time. Looking at the overall figures, 1,301 Council properties were bought by council tenants in the Melton Borough Council area between 1980 and 1998. Big numbers by any measure and even more important to the whole Melton Mowbray property market (i.e. every Melton Mowbray homeowner, Melton Mowbray landlord and even Melton Mowbray aspiring first time buyers) when you consider these 1,301 properties make up a colossal 8.4% of all the privately owned properties in our area (because in the local authority area, there are only 15,498 privately owned properties).

Melton Mowbray first time buyers and landlords can now buy these ex-council properties as those original 80’s and 90’s tenants (now homeowners) have more than passed the time of any claw back of the discount they received.

Now let us all be honest, some (not all), but some ex-council properties lack the vital Kerb appeal that some landlords crave.

Yes, the modern stuff being built in Melton Mowbray is lovely, but too many landlords purchase buy to let property solely based on where they would choose to live themselves, instead of choosing with a business head and choosing where a tenant would want to live ... because remember the first rule of buy to let property … you aren’t going to live the property yourself. What an ex-council property lack in terms of kerb appeal, they more than make up for in other ways.  Tenants more worried about how close the property is to a particular school or family members, or the size of the rooms matter to them far more than the look of a property.

Whilst ex-council properties tend to increase in value at a slower rate than more modern properties, that is more than made up in the much higher yields – and those built between the wars or just after are really well built. Tenant demand for such properties is good since Melton Mowbray property values are so expensive, a lot of people can’t get mortgages to buy, so they will reconcile themselves to renting, meaning there is a good demand for that sort of property to rent. Also, the very fact the council were forced to sell these Melton Mowbray properties in the 80’s and 90’s, means that today’s younger generation who would have normally got a council house to live in themselves, now can’t as many were sold ten or twenty years ago.

So to Melton Mowbray landlords I say this … don’t dismiss ex-council houses but remember the 1st rule of buy to let (see above). However, those very same Melton Mowbray landlords should go in with their eyes open and take lots of advice. Not all ex-council properties are the same and even though they have good demand and high yields, they can also give you other headaches and issues when it comes to the running of the rental property. 

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