What a strange time to be involved in property, whether you’re a buyer, seller, agent, investor or tenant and no matter whether you’re an old hand and hardened in the market or just entering into it, these are unprecedented times.
Whilst normally Elmbridge and Weybridge are property microclimates which often see different trends, we are not immune to the current woes.
Our market here is normally very resilient.
Weybridge is and always has been highly desirable.
Excellent state, private and international schools nearby, fast train links to London and good road networks in and out all make it a hotspot.
But then I don’t need to tell you that, it’s probably why you live here, one of the primary rental markets in Weybridge are families relocating to the area, often from overseas, on 2-5 year contracts.
They are on a circuit where their employer moves them around regularly and therefore they need to rent, not buy, the international schools make it a prime location for them – this sector will pay £3000 to £15,000 per month and there is traditionally a thriving market for this.
They are good tenancies, staying for long periods where landlords welcome the backing of a large company and for this reason lots of landlords have invested in houses in Weybridge for many years, seeing reasonable returns and excellent capital growth.
However, with the storm cloud of Brexit that has hung over us for the last 3 years, this has played havoc with the market, corporates are understandably thinking twice before they relocate a family of 4 from Texas for 3 years and they’ve been sitting on their hands, waiting to see what happens.
This has meant the letting market in Weybridge has become very competitive with landlords vying for the tenants that are out there – no longer can you bring a shabby house to the market and expect top money.
Tenants are still coming in (particularly oil and pharmaceutical companies) but they have a wider choice so they can afford to be picky and take the houses that are best presented and at the right price. This is no bad thing as its helped to drive the quality of housing up and keep rents fair however it does hurt the landlords who aren’t on top of their game or don’t get the right advice from their agent.
Void periods can be very costly and even more so if they take you ‘out of season’. This combined with increasing meddling of the private rented sector by the government has driven many landlords out of the Weybridge and local market in recent years. Tough times all round then!
But for the determined landlords who have stuck through it (and many of the ‘accidental landlords’ picked up along the way), there is light at the end of the tunnel. Less available stock means prices will start to rise again. A very soft sales market means capital values will start to rise again and when the supposed flood gates open after Brexit that should leave a lot people in a good position.
But will this pent up demand be the tidal wave that many predict?
I’m not so sure but it will relieve some of the pressure. It will mean that companies start to mobilise employees again and to make some plans. Whether that involves expansion or not, it is still a plan and that means people can make decision for their future.
For some, Brexit will be positive and for others not and that will translate directly back into the Weybridge property market.
We may see less people entering the area and some people leaving.
This could free up the sale of housing stock at all levels. That said, there any many people waiting to move, first time buyers, downsizers, side shifters so more stock at reasonable pricing will be welcomed by them. I don’t see the number of rental properties rising for some time though so expect to see rents increase slowly for the next 5+ years.
That’s not good for renters but its much needed for the landlords who have braved the recent storms. I’d say it’s certainly a good time to be sniffing out some investment bargains for the long term growth.
Aside from Brexit, what will really make a difference to all sections of the market is Stamp Duty.
If this is reformed correctly then we really will see a change in the property climate and there could be that tidal wave that many long for. Hopefully this is done on a gradual basis so that we see a steady and sustainable return of the market, for everyone’s sake.
I hope to be reporting on property in another 10-20 years looking back on these extraordinary times pleased that despite everything we came through it with a stronger, fairer and better housing market for all. I’m sure we’ll all agree that future government, whoever they are need some radical reform on housing and some joined up, long term thinking.
Whatever happens though we are grateful that Weybridge will always hold itself well compared to many other areas and will be leading the charge when positivity inevitably returns.
Jamie Wheatley is Director and founder of Martin & Wheatley in Weybridge, specialising in property investment, letting and management. Jamie has been dealing in property in South London and Surrey since 1990. Together with his business partner Sheila Martin they’re expertise and knowledge of the local property market is difficult to match.
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