May 9, 2023

Buying

First-time buyers keeping local property market afloat

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Hemel Hempstead first-time buyers keeping our local property market afloat

The property market in Hemel Hempstead and surrounding area is relatively buoyant, thanks to an unexpected group of people – Hemel Hempstead first-time buyers.

Many Hemel Hempstead tenants are annoyed with competing for Hemel Hempstead rental properties at high rents. Therefore, over the last 12 months, many renters have been stretching their finances to get on the Hemel Hempstead housing ladder, despite sky-high mortgage rates.

Using data from the Office of National Statistics, Land Registry and the Bank of England, of the 942 properties bought in the last 12 months in the Hemel Hempstead area, 255 were bought by first-time buyers.

With just under 1 in 3 house purchases made by first-time buyers in the last 12 months, it might surprise many that this has been steadily growing since 2010 when only 1 in 5 house purchases were made by first-time buyers.

Surprisingly, first-time buyers have remained the most resilient group of property buyers, even during these difficult times.

Usually, first-time buyers would be the most affected in times of stress in the property market (like in the last two property market crashes of 1998 and 2008). However, this time is different. Despite the sky-high mortgage rates, the rental market and its high rents are making buying a more attractive option for many Hemel Hempstead renters.

The Hemel Hempstead rental market 

In Q1 2021, the average rent in the Hemel Hempstead area was £1,117 per month. The Hemel Hempstead area rental market has experienced soaring rents in the last two years, with the average rent increasing to £1,383 a month in Q1 2023, an increase of 23.8%. (Hemel Hempstead area being HP1/2/3).

Why are rents rising?

There are multiple reasons why rents are rising.

  • One reason includes higher mortgage rates for landlords, passed on to tenants in increased rents.
  • Some Hemel Hempstead landlords with high % mortgages are selling their buy-to-let portfolios because of the Section 24 taxation rule changes and leaving the market entirely.
  • Another reason is fewer landlords are buying rental properties to let out, with only 1 in 8 house purchases being made by landlords.
  • Meanwhile, demand for Hemel Hempstead rental properties is high. With demand outpacing supply, some Hemel Hempstead renters are forced to accept higher prices or offer more than the asking price to secure new tenancies.
  • Other Hemel Hempstead tenants are offering to pay six to twelve months rent in advance to strengthen their negotiating position.

This situation has made many Hemel Hempstead renters move forward with their plans to buy a home for themselves, despite the increasing costs of home ownership.

First-time buyer deposits and monthly payments

But what about the deposit? It appears the ‘Bank of Mum & Dad’ are helping first-time buyers with their deposits. The national average deposit paid by first-time buyers was just over £63,000 in January ’23, which was 23.4% of their purchase.

The lowest rate for a two-year fixed first-time mortgage with a 23% deposit is 4.13%, up from 2.86% a year ago.

How can Hemel Hempstead first-time buyers reduce their monthly payments?

They can do it by increasing the length of their mortgage. For example, increasing your mortgage term from 25 to 30 years will save you £45 per month in mortgage payments for every £100,000 borrowed.

Eleven out of twenty first-time buyers are taking out mortgages of 30 years or more, the highest level since records began in 2005.

What about buyers with a low deposit?

According to the Moneyfacts website, the number of available 95% mortgage deals has risen from the early 160s in early March to nearly 210 last week. This is the highest level since September 2022, showing that banks are not worried about a property price crash. Moreover, the Coventry and Nationwide Building Societies have reduced their mortgage rates on low deposit (90% to 95%) mortgages over the past few weeks. The average 2-year fixed 95% mortgage is 5.64%, and the best rate is 4.9%.

However, Skipton Building Society has even launched structured products for certain first-time buyers that will not need a 5% deposit if the buyer can prove their rental history (about time too, if you ask me).

The government mortgage guarantee scheme was also extended into 2023, which partially insures the bank/building society on any defaults on their 95% mortgages. It has been recognised for keeping some of these low deposits available for first-time buyers.

The outlook for the Hemel Hempstead property market may still be uncertain, but a comparatively soft landing is still the most likely outcome. With first-time buyers fuelling the market, interesting times lay ahead.

If you’re a first-time buyer and would like to chat about available properties, or how to finance your purchase, please get in touch with your local Castles team. We’re ready to help you with any questions you may have.

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