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The cost of renting a home hit a new high in September as landlords made record returns on their investments, figures showed today.
The average rent charged on a property in England and Wales rose to £768 during the month, according to LSL Property Services.
Higher rents combined with strong house price growth helped push total annual returns on an investment property up to 13.4 per cent, nearly double the rate of 7.9 per cent seen in September last year.
As a result, the average landlord made a return of £22,706 on their investment during the 12 months, before deductions for mortgage repayments and maintenance.
The total was made up of £8,379 from rental income and £14,327 through property price growth.
Looking ahead, if house prices continue to rise at the rate seen during the past quarter, total annual returns could hit 22.1 per cent over the next year, or £40,489 per property, LSL said.
But there was some good news for tenants as the annual rate at which rents are rising slowed to just 1.5 per cent in September, down from 2.4 per cent in August.
Landlords expect rent rises to remain muted in the year ahead, predicting they will increase by an average of just 1.8 per cent during the next 12 months.
The group said there had been a resurgence in demand for rental properties outside of London and the South East, with the East posting the biggest annual hike in rental costs at 3.1 per cent, followed by the South West at 2.3 per cent.
But in other regions of the country, the cost of being a tenant has fallen.
Average rents in the West Midlands have dropped by 2.4 per cent in the past year, while in the North East they are 2.3 per cent lower and in Wales they have edged down by 1.1 per cent.
David Newnes, director of estate agents Reeds Rains and Your Move, said: “Historically rent rises have broadly tracked inflation. And as the wider cost of living grows ever more slowly, so too has the cost of renting a home.
“That said, autumn is always a busy period for the lettings industry, and this has been no exception.
“Looking ahead, it is likely that rents in most parts of the UK will have now reached their seasonal peak – so as the market cools along with the autumn weather there may be opportunities for some tenants to pick up a favourable deal.”
Tenants finances improved during the month with only 7.2 per cent of rent in arrears, down from 8.5 per cent in September last year.
But despite the drop, there was still £256m of late rent during the month.
The average property price paid by first time buyers hit a two-year high in September, as starter homes outperformed the rest of the market, research showed today.
The typical cost of a first home soared by 4.1 per cent during the month to stand at £160,218, according to estate agent haart.
But house prices eased across the wider property market as the supply of homes for sale increased, but demand fell.
There were 2.8 per cent more homes put on the market during September than in the same month of 2013, the fourth consecutive month during which supply has increased on an annual basis.
At the same time, the number of new buyers registering with estate agents fell by 6.6 per cent, also the fourth month in a row in which demand has eased year-on-year.
The change in market dynamics led to the average cost of a British home dipping by 1.1 per cent to £203,135, while in London prices dropped by 3.3 per cent to stand at £507,967.
But house price gains remained robust on an annual basis, with prices 6.9 per cent higher than they were a year ago across Britain as a whole, while in London they were a massive 19.8 per cent up.
Despite the easing in the mismatch between supply and demand, competition for homes remained intense, with an average of 10 buyers chasing every home for sale, rising to 16 potential buyers per property in London.
Paul Smith, chief executive of haart, said: “Although our data shows a small slowdown in house price growth on a monthly basis, this must be taken in the wider market context.
“Good mortgage deals are still very much on the table and interest rates aren’t going up for the foreseeable future.
“We have 10 buyers chasing every new property instruction UK-wide, so sellers shouldn’t start sneezing yet. The run up to Christmas has already begun and the market remains strong.”
Property sales increased by 1.8 per cent during the month, to stand 7.2 per cent higher than in September 2013.
But the number of first time buyers registering with estate agents fell by 6.4 per cent compared with a year ago.
People taking their first step on the property ladder put down average deposits of £34,550 during the month, while they borrowed an average of £125,668.
On a brighter note, this group accounted for 44.7 per cent of all mortgages advanced in September, slightly up on 41.1 per cent 12 months earlier.
Today’s figures add to growing evidence that the booming property market is beginning to cool.
Nationwide Building Society said house prices dipped by 0.2 per cent in September, while Halifax said annual house price inflation may have peaked at 10 per cent.
If you’re looking for a new build home, try this scheme in Wandsworth ranging from studios to four bedroom duplexes.
Where exactly is it? On the site of the former Ram Brewery which closed in 2006. It is just south of the River Thames, between Putney to west and Battersea to the east.
Monster housing estate or tiny boutique development? Monster. This £600m scheme by Chinese company, Greenland Holdings Group, will eventually include 661 homes, plus shops, cafes and restaurants. As a nod to the site’s history there will also be a brewing museum and a microbrewery.
How much will it cost me? The scheme is being sold jointly by JLL and Savills and the first phase of the scheme includes 338 flats, from studios to four bedroom duplexes, priced from around £300,000 for a studio flat. A full price list will be announced later in the month, and the phase should be built and ready in 2017.
What is so great about it? This is a high end, high spec scheme, alongside the River Wandle, and within easy reach of stacks of local cafes, pubs and bars. Alex Finch, a director of JLL, pointed out that the scheme will also include its own shops and places to eat. “It is really going to create a new destination, for local people as well as those who live there,” she said. “It also has some listed buildings on the site which are going to be retained, like the original stables and brewery building, so it will not just be your standard new build.”
Surely its not completely perfect? Prices are stiff, although par for the course for the area, and early adopters will have to accept years of building works going on around them. The surrounding area is rather industrial at present (although rapidly being redeveloped). Motorists will have to endure the horrors of the Wandsworth one way system if they want to drive into town. Finch, however, points out that it is less expensive than many new build options coming out of nearby Nine Elms or east London. “And there are plans to redo the gyratory system,” she said. “This is something which Transport for London is doing so we do not have a definitive plan or date but they are looking at making parts of it two way, and traffic calming, which should really improve the area.” TFL plans to begin public consultation on its ideas to improve the area this winter.
Who will my neighbours be? Finch expects a “young audience” to move into the Ram Quarter – first time buyers assisted by the Bank of Mum and Dad, young couples and perhaps families with a small child since some of the flats have four bedrooms. There will clearly be some investment purchases, as with all new London schemes, and it is also inevitable that many of the residents will be commuting to work in the West End or City.
What is Wandsworth like? Once a bit of a poor relation compared to its swishier neighbours, Wandsworth has been enjoying a ripple of regeneration and gentrification. There are cute independent shops and cafes in Old York Road, and stacks of chains at the nearby (and recently done up) Southside Shopping Centre. The nearby Wandsworth Park is small but perfectly formed, one of only a handful of Grade II listed parks in the capital, with views across to the Hurlingham Club on the north bank of the river at Fulham.
Is it any good for kids? Since this phase is all about flats the developer expects it to appeal to the child free. Families won’t love the local roads, which are busy, but there is plenty of green space within walking distance (Wandsworth and Clapham Commons). Teenagers will adore all the local shops and entertainment. Nearby schools include St Anne’s CofE Primary School, rated “good” by Ofsted, and Ashcroft Technology Academy (seniors) which the Government’s schools’ watchdog considers to be “outstanding”.
How are the public transport links? Fantastic. Wandsworth Town railway station is a five minute walk away, with services to Waterloo taking around 15 minutes.
Is it up and coming? Very much so. Average prices stand at £811,524, up a resounding 18.07 per cent in the last year.
I like the sound of Wandsworth, what else is on sale there?
1. SW18 is the focus of frenzied new building, including this three bedroom penthouse with great river views, on the market for £1.295m.
2. Alternatively pick up a one bedroom flat in The Schoolyard development, on the market for £480,000.
3. Of course Wandsworth isn’t all modern – there are streets of lovely Victorian houses too. This two bedroom flat in a corner building is on the market at £695,000.