August 14, 2020
The Government is on track to borrow £400bn because of Coronavirus and that needs to be paid back at some stage. Last year alone, before Coronavirus, the Government brought in £824 billion in taxes whilst they spent £887 billion, meaning they had to borrow £63 billion. In fact, the last time taxes were higher than spending in the UK was 1998, meaning since then the country has been living beyond its means.
Interestingly, whilst these are certainly eye watering numbers (£400bn is a lot of money in anyone’s book) most people aren’t too concerned in the short term. Because interest rates are so low, the Government are able to borrow this money at 0.39 percent per annum over a 10-year period on the Gilt Markets. There are even 3-year Government gilts at a negative interest rate. This is because the UK has been considered (and still is considered to be) a monetary sanctuary/safe haven for the last 20 years because of the country’s robust credit worthiness. Cheap money – yet it still needs paying back in the years to come and that can only be funded by taxpayers.
Ultimately, the Government will have to try to balance the books and that means increasing taxation. I know many will say there is waste in the NHS and MoD procurement, but that has already been squeezed quite hard during the Credit Crunch crisis and years of austerity. Some have suggested stopping the triple lock on pensions, which costs the Exchequer £6bn a year more than if pensions had risen at pre triple lock rates, so that isn’t going to make much of a dent in the debt. Some have suggested we could enter into a second wave of austerity, like we saw from 2010, yet neither the voters nor the wage frozen public sector would accept that. That leaves tax rises as the only option for leaders who claim to take a responsible long-term view of the economy.
The Government could raise tax on spending with VAT increases, but they did that in 2011 when it rose to 20% (from 17.5%). Also, increases in VAT affect the poor more than the rich. Then they could raise it from earnings (Corporation Tax, Income Tax and National Insurance) yet it’s been proved raising these ‘earning taxes’ ends up being counter-productive to the economy, resulting in tax receipts going down (even though the tax rate went up). Both are unsatisfactory, not least because big rises end up being unfair to someone.
So, some ‘think tank’ groups have suggested that we look to unearned wealth and the equity people, especially the older generation are sitting on in their homes, to pay for Coronavirus. Whilst I am in no way promoting and advocating that idea, I thought it was a fascinating suggestion and wanted to know what that would mean for Stockport homeowners if such a fanciful idea took hold?
OAPs in Britain sit on £1.425 trillion in
housing equity in their own homes
The average length of time an OAP homeowner has been in their property is, according to official figures, 24.7 years, meaning on average, 75.8% of that equity is profit. So, if say a capital gains tax of 10% was placed on any profit, it would raise £107.84bn over the next 20 to 25 years. So, what would that mean to Stockport OAP homeowners?
Stockport OAP homeowners own £2,603.33bn
worth of property
Taking into account the average length of time those homeowners have been in their Stockport home, that is an ‘unearned’ profit of £1,969.61bn, or £1,042.12bn after inflation. Some ‘think tanks’ have said that should be taxed as some form of capital gains tax.
To give you an idea, if every OAP homeowner in Stockport had to pay a 10% capital gains tax when they (or their descendants) sold their Stockport home, that would cost them £17,209 each (or a total of £196.96m).
So, is this the answer to pay for Coronavirus? There needs to be tax reforms to protect the public finances yet is it fair to tax previous capital gains? Many people say no. Let’s not forget people buy their homes out of taxed income, then pay Stamp duty, VAT on any improvements and inheritance tax if the property value is more than £675,000, so is it fair that the Government want another slice of the pie?
The older generation who bought these homes saw mortgage rates of 19% in the late 1970’s and 16%+ in the early 1990’s, meaning for every pound borrowed, they ended paying back £3 to £4 when you added up the interest. Also, let’s not forget all the money spent keeping up the maintenance, money that has already been taxed. The upshot will be this would stop OAP’s selling their homes because it would discourage older people from trading down to a smaller home in retirement, making it even harder for younger families to find a big enough home to live in. Also, many people use the equity in their home to pay for retirement care, so if some of that is going to keep the debts down, that means the Government will have a larger social care bill in future years.
One school of thought could be taxing future tax-free gains for ALL homeowners, although given the Tory’s dependence on the more mature middle class (homeowning) voters, this might be a step too far for the Conservatives, so some have said this will be kicked down the road for Labour to sort. Sir Keir Starmer, who appears to be quite a straight-talking and even monetarily responsible Labour leader, is certainly a lot more voter friendly to the British electorate than Corbyn.
At the 2024 General Election, he could introduce what appeared to be a smart agenda of tax increases on unearned property capital gains and as long as it was presented in a clearly defined way, maybe turning the tables on the famous Tory General Election poster from 2010, when the Tory’s mocked Gordon Brown for doubling the national debt, implying it was Labour’s fault for the increase in national debt when in fact it was the Credit Crunch that caused it.
Starmer could soberly state Labour were the only party that could be trusted to make hard decisions to avoid burdening future generations with the £400bn ‘Tory’ coronavirus debt
One way or another, this £400bn (or £14,440.43 per household) is going to need to be paid back eventually; that means a rise in taxes. Nobody likes paying more tax – yet the truth of the matter is there is a lot of wealth tied up in property, especially with the older generation and so I suppose its introduction is inevitable in the future.
Please tell me your thoughts on the matter…
July 27, 2020
The Chancellor announced on Wednesday 8th July in his mini Budget some interesting news for Stockport homeowners and Stockport landlords. Rishi Sunak is going to give ‘The Green Homes Grant’ of up to £5,000 to cover two-thirds of the costs of environmentally friendly upgrades to your Stockport property, with the homeowner covering the other third. There are also enhanced grants of £10,000 for the poorest households where 100% of the cost will be met by the Government.
This is nothing new mind you. The coalition Government in 2013 announced The Green Deal. That deal was in theory to have been a help for the builders, energy saving and home improvement industry, as the Government hoped many would take up environmentally friendly improvements to save energy (and ultimately greenhouse gases). Yet by the time it was brought to an end two years later only 14,000 households had applied, costing the taxpayer £238m (or £17,000 per household). That doesn’t sound good value to me – yet who am I to comment?
Anyway, let’s not be negative, as improving our homes does makes sense – after all, research shows Brits have the draughtiest homes in Europe. A recent survey suggests UK homes “leak” heat up to three times more quickly than more energy-efficient homes on the continent.
Data from 80,000 smart thermostats across the EU were reviewed to measure how quickly a home at 20°C inside cooled once the heating was turned off (when the outside temperature was 0°C). Within 5 hours, the average British home dropped by 3°C, the French came in second at 2.5°C yet the Germans came in at just 1°C, meaning British homes clearly need more heating (i.e. greenhouse gases) to keep them warmer.
The chancellor has allotted £2bn to the scheme, which pays for two thirds of the cost of the upgrade and stated that more than 650,000 homes would be upgraded. This could save those households a total of £195m a year in heating bills (or the equivalent of £300 a year per household), cutting greenhouse gases and saving jobs in the construction industry. The grant can be applied for from September and is open to Stockport homeowners and private sector Stockport landlords. Applications must be made before March 2021 and the Treasury have stated about half of the fund would go to households with the lowest incomes (how low is still to be announced), with an enhanced grant of up to £10,000, saving them up to £600 per annum each on their heating bills.
The average Stockport home annually produces 4.258 tonnes of CO2, compared to the national average of 4.101 tonnes
Due to the particular individual nature of the properties in Stockport and their construction type, with suitable improvements in insulation, double glazing and draught proofing, Government statistics state that this could be reduced to 2.491 tonnes for Stockport homes if suitable work (as per the Green Homes Grant) was carried out.
Why is this important? Well UK householders spend £34.735bn a year on their electric and gas bills – this is a lot of money. In fact, looking specifically at Stockport properties…
Stockport householders spend £703.30 per year on heating their homes (compared to the national average of £669.34 per year)
Yet, if Stockport householders carried out the energy improvements that ‘The Green Homes Grant’ suggests their energy bills for heating alone would reduce to £514.30 per year … quite a saving over a decade and beyond (enough to buy a decent holiday – whatever one of those is!).
So, with Stockport homeowners and Stockport landlords being able to spend the grant on loft, floor and wall insulation, low carbon gas boilers, heat pumps, double or even triple-glazed windows, energy-efficient doors and low energy lighting … everyone should win – the environment, the economy and household budgets. More details on the scheme should be released by the Government in August.
July 22, 2020
Lawler & Co Estate Agents have a two bedroom, end terrace property on the market for sale on Beech Road in Cale Green, Stockport, SK3. The property benefits from two double bedrooms, two reception rooms & a single cellar chamber.
July 15, 2020
The British are infatuated with owning their own property and politicians know that. Margaret Thatcher used it as a vote winner in 1979 when she allowed council house tenants to buy their own home. Coming to the present day, Boris Johnson’s Conservative government have anxieties that the Brits have not been buying nearly enough homes lately and, as with all countries in the world, the British property market was put ‘on ice’ for several months to help contain the Coronavirus, exacerbating the problem.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced on Wednesday plans to boost the property market by momentarily scrapping Stamp Duty Tax (a tax paid by homebuyers) when they buy a property that costs less than £500,000.
Interestingly, Stamp Duty was originally introduced in 1694 as a way to raise funds for The Nine Years’ War (1688–1697) against Louis XIV of France and applied to property and some legal documents.
Why is this important? Well the Government recognise that when the property market is working well, the economy also tends to work well, yet one of the barriers to people moving home is Stamp Duty. Even before Coronavirus, Brits were moving 40.21% less than they were at the start of the millennium, and now with this dreadful situation, the natural reaction is for people to stay put in their own homes, meaning another potential nail in the coffin for the economy.
Stamp Duty has raised not an insignificant £166.53bn since 1998, impressive when you consider the NHS costs £129bn per annum. Looking at more recent figures, the Government currently raise £1.045bn per month from Stamp Duty Tax and this statement will remove a good chunk of that from the Chancellors coffers each month, yet the Government knows a healthy property market will help the wider economy.
As Stamp Duty is a transaction tax, it restricts labour market mobility, making people who are thinking of switching jobs think twice before moving. Stamp Duty also holds back elderly homeowners from downsizing to smaller homes, which is an issue for the UK, as we don’t have enough homes to meet supply and also curtails first time buyers as it forces them to use some of the savings on the tax, as opposed to using for a deposit.
Before the changes, the Stamp Duty thresholds were as follows:
- Zero percent up to £125,000
- Two percent of the next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000)
- Five percent of the next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000)
- Ten percent of the next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)
- 12% of the remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)
and between the 8th July 2020 and 31st March 2021
- Zero percent up to £500,000
- Five percent of the next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000)
- Ten percent of the next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)
- 12% of the remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)
Landlords and buy to let landlords will also benefit from these reduced rates yet will still have to pay their additional premium for second homes (as they have since April 2016).
To give you an idea how significant this is, if these rules had been in place exactly a year ago for Stockport properties purchased under £500,000 (i.e. between the 8th July 2019 and 31st March 2020).
Stamp Duty would not have been paid on 2,234
Stockport properties, worth in total £552,076,700
Anyone buying any home in Stockport over £500,000 are also winners in this, as they will save having to pay the first £15,000 in stamp duty (under the old scheme). This is because during these 9 months, stamp duty is only paid on the difference over £500,000 (so if you buy a property for say £620,000 – one only pays the stamp duty on the difference between £620,000 and £500,000 i.e. £120,000).
I’m all for reducing Stamp Duty, which is imposed progressively at higher rates the higher a property costs (as you can see from the tables above). Yet, short-lived changes to property taxation risk warping the property market and generating a ‘property market hangover’ in Spring 2021. I am part of a group of 2,500 estate and letting agents from the UK, and most of us were running at 150% speed before this announcement, coping with the post Coronavirus explosion in demand.
Now it seems that the ‘feast’ will continue until the end of March 2021 as many more people will move to take advantage of the cut in tax. However, some are suggesting this could lead to ‘famine’ down the line as it will stop people moving into the late spring and summer of 2021.
History tells us different stories on the influence on transaction volumes from changing Stamp Duty rates. In 1991 the Tory’s raised the Stamp Duty threshold at which house buyers started paying and Gordon Brown did so in 2008 when we went into the Credit Crunch. More recently, both George Osborne and Philip Hammond fine-tuned Stamp Duty so that landlords had to pay an additional Stamp Duty Premium after March 2016 whilst first-time buyers pay less Stamp Duty and the purchasers of more expensive homes (over £1.5m) pay more.
The Stamp Duty changes for landlords in 2016 affected the property market only for a short while and by the autumn, transactions levels had returned to normal. However, in 1991, John Major’s Stamp Duty change encouraged home buyers to bring forward home purchases but nevertheless the property market ground to a standstill again once the benefit ended (although the steps up the 1990’s Stamp Duty levels were much harsher as the tax applied to the whole purchase price, not the margin steps as it had in the 1990’s).
So how much money will Stockport people save when buying a home under £500k?
The average Stamp Duty paid by those Stockport home buyers in the 9 months between the 8th July 2019 and 31st March 2020 was £2,442
Being objective, I can see why the Chancellor could see this as a suitable way to motivate spending because when people move home, they are more inclined to spend comprehensively on property renovations and the services of solicitors, home removal people, tradesmen and estate agents. So, drastically reducing Stamp Duty will undoubtedly help the UK economy, or at least contain some of the damage from the Coronavirus.
Also, the experience of being in lockdown will have confirmed to many Stockport people that they need a bigger home or one with a bigger garden. I also suspect other people may be able to work from home on a more long-lasting basis, meaning there could be a shift from the larger cities to outlying towns and even a move to the countryside.
So, these are my thoughts, what are yours?
July 14, 2020
Philip James Estate Agents have a studio apartment for sale in the ever popular Victoria Mill in Reddish, Stockport, SK5. The apartment was reduced in price three days ago to just £95,000!
July 13, 2020
There is a two bedroom end terrace property on the market for sale on Naseby Road, Reddish, Stockport, SK5. The property is on the market with Philip James Estate Agents & has a ‘offers in excess of’ price of £130,000.
July 10, 2020
Hilton House, which is located within strolling distance of both Stockport Town Centre and Stockport Train Station, is being offered to the market by Colliers.
The 0.78 acre site has the potential to play a significant part in the transformation of the Stockport skyline.
Take a look at the full brochure here .
You can contact me directly for any advice on this site and the Stockport residential market in general – email@example.com
July 10, 2020
One of my Stockport landlords contacted me last week from Didsbury, after he had spoken to a landlord friend of his from Bramhall. He told me they were deliberating the Stockport property market and neither of them could make their mind up if it was time to either sell or buy property following Covid-19. His friend said he would wait to see what would happen to property prices following Covid-19, yet my landlord wanted to pick my brain in order to help him decide what to do.
I said the press are aware bad news sells newspapers and the doom mongers are plying their trade on uncertainty in the world economic situation. Roll the clock back to the Credit Crunch of 2008/9, and there were quite a few landlords in Stockport who had overexposed themselves with high percentage loan to value buy to let mortgages, backing the hope they would make their money on the capital growth, yet fell foul of a drop in rents and thus got bankrupted (but who could blame them when the property market was rising at 15% to 20% a year in the early 2000’s and banks like Northern Rock were giving mortgages out to anyone with a pulse and note from their Mum).
Thankfully the Bank of England changed the rules on all mortgages in 2014 banning self-certification mortgages, tightening the rules around interest-only mortgages and the requirement around affordability to be checked, plus a tough stress test if interest rates rose. It’s obvious we are going to enter into a recession because of Covid-19, yet this time the Stockport property market is better placed to weather the storm.
However, gone are the days when you could buy any old house in Stockport and it would make money. Yes, in the past, anything in Stockport that had four walls and a roof would make you money because since World War 2, property prices doubled every seven years … it was like having a free cash machine.
If a landlord bought a Stockport terraced / town house in the summer of 2000, he or she would have seen a profit of £105,500 to its current value of £166,600, a rise of 173%
Nonetheless, if that landlord had bought the same property in 2010, the Stockport landlord would have only made £26,900 profit (a 19.2% increase). Yet since 2010, the country has experienced 31.5% inflation, meaning our Stockport landlord has seen the ‘real’ value of their Stockport property decrease by 12.3% (i.e. 19.2% less 31.5% inflation).
And this is my point. Nobody has been complaining about the property market in the last ten years, yet landlords are still worse off in real terms. If we do see a slight dip in property prices because of Covid-19 (looking at the market at the moment I haven’t seen any indication of its slowing down from its post lockdown takeoff), but if we do, Stockport landlords need to realise property values aren’t the only indicator of whether the property market is good or not.
The reality is, since around the early 2000’s we haven’t seen anything like the capital growth in property we have seen in the past and it’s not predicted to grow at the rates it has previously done either. So, I believe it is high time for any Stockport landlord, pondering investing in Stockport property to stop believing the hype and do some serious research using independent investment expertise. You can still make money by buying the right Stockport property at the right price and finding the right tenant.
Think about it, properties in real terms are 12.3% lower than a decade ago, so investing in Stockport property is not only about capital growth, but also about the yield (the return from the rent). It’s also about having a balanced property portfolio that will match what you want from your investment – and what is a ‘balanced property portfolio’? Well we discuss such matters on the Stockport Property Blog … if you haven’t seen the articles, then it might be worth a few minutes of your time?
July 9, 2020
Edward Mellor Estate Agents have a three bedroom, mid terrace property on the market for sale which reduced in price two days ago to £169,950! Located on Aberdeen Crescent, Edgeley, Stockport, SK3, this property would make a brilliant buy to let investment.
July 8, 2020
A brilliant property came to the market yesterday with Ian Tonge Estate Agents, the property is located on Kings Road in sought after location in Hazel Grove, Stockport, SK7.