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The investment case for Luton

The investment case for Luton

Luton is a growing town that is known for being one of London’s most sought-after commuter locations. Indeed, Jackson-Stops has just flagged it up as the top commuter hotspot for 2019 and the town is fast becoming a favourite with property investment companies. Here’s why.

Luton is located 30 miles north west of central London. Direct trains run into London St Pancras International in as little as 22 minutes. 167 trains per day provide an almost round-the-clock service. Rents, meanwhile are around 1/3 of the cost that they are in London. For renters, it is the ideal combination.
Not only that, but London Luton Airport (the fifth largest in the UK and the fastest-growing major London airport) provides the town with easy, fast access to a wide range of European destinations, as well as select locations in Africa and the Middle East.

“Life in Luton means easy access to the best that London has to offer but without the capital’s extortionate housing costs. The town has excellent amenities with a lively local culture that appeals to those looking to balance access to London with a realistic lifestyle. This is one of the reasons that Luton exhibits such excellent growth potential.”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest
Luton’s population is increasingly rapidly. Between 2018 and 2041, the Office for National Statistics projects that the town’s population will grow by 12.9%, to 248,500. At the same time, it is in the grips of a serious housing shortage, as is the case with many towns and cities in the UK. However, Luton’s housing shortage is worse than most, with Project Etopia projecting that it will be 22.1 years behind where it needs to be in terms of housebuilding by 2026, if the current rate of development continues. At present, Luton is building 430 new homes per year – it needs to be building 1,417 to meet demand.
This housing shortage spells good news for buy to let investors, as it points to a long-term, sustained level of demand for private rented accommodation in Luton, as tenants seek to snap up those homes that are available. It also has the potential to drive up house prices (as well as rents and yields). Luton is already bucking the trend in terms of house price rises. While many southern locations are seeing a market correction at present, with falling prices or nil growth, Luton’s prices rose by 1.6% in the year to April 2019. Savills, meanwhile, projects growth of 9.3% in the five years to 2023 for the South East region.
In terms of its rental market, Luton enjoys an average rent of £632 pcm for a one-bedroom apartment and £828 pcm for a two-bedroom one, according to Zoopla – significantly less than equivalent homes in London.

“It is Luton’s combination of capital growth potential and pent-up demand for private rented sector homes that has caused the town to top LendInvest’s UK buy to let index for so much of the past three- or four-year period. This is a town with outstanding growth potential. Watch this town and watch this space to take full advantage of what Luton has to offer in the very near future!”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest

For regular updates on investing in UK buy to let hotspots such as Luton, follow Surrenden Invest on social media.

Is property investment the key to retirement for Millennials?

Is property investment the key to retirement for Millennials?

It’s fair to say that Millennials have had something of a raw deal when it comes to their finances. According to Brookings, median household wealth for Millennials in 2016 was 25% below that of those who were a similar age back in 2007. The global financial crisis has held them back in terms of salary growth, but it’s far from the only factor. Growing levels of student debt have played a large role, as has an inability to climb onto the housing ladder.

The result is that Millennials are facing a number of issues, both in terms of current wealth creation and future prospects. Not owning property means no capital growth. The increasing prevalence of self-employment more often than not means a lack of savings for retirement. Interestingly, though, this doesn’t mean that Millennials are unable to use the property market to their advantage.

“Millennials face a number of economic hurdles, but property investment doesn’t have to be one of them. The average UK property costs eight times the average salary, according to the ONS, but the right buy to let home in the right area can cost considerably less. It can also generate a healthy income, as well as the potential for capital growth.”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest
The Tannery, in Liverpool, is a key example of the potential that property investment holds for Millennials. The apartments are available from just £85,000 – far below the UK average property price of £226,798 (Land Registry figures, March 2019). With a turnkey management solution in place, there is no burden placed on investors in terms of time, meaning that Millennials looking for an alternative to traditional pension arrangements would do well to consider such a property’s potential.
Buy to let mortgages are subject to affordability checks, just as mortgages for first time buyers are. They also consider the potential rental income of the property in question. Surrenden Invest’s mortgage calculator is a great place to start for those just looking into this (whether Millennials or not).

“The world as we knew it has changed when it comes to property ownership. We’re seeing more people renting and for longer periods, but that doesn’t mean that they need be denied the opportunity to profit from property. It’s just that doing so may look different in the future. Property investment companies need to work with Millennials to encourage that to happen.”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest

For regular updates on investing in property UK regional cities, be sure to follow the Surrenden Invest team on social media.

Luton’s dynamic business environment and what it means for investors

Luton’s dynamic business environment and what it means for investors

Luton is a large town in Bedfordshire, some 29 miles northwest of London. It has a diverse economy that has built on the town’s industrial past while embracing new sectors and technologies. This exciting business environment, combined with the town’s affordability and proximity to London, is causing investors to look closely at Luton right now – so that’s precisely what we’ve done!

In terms of its business environment, Luton’s principal employers, after the borough council and Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, are those whose businesses relate to aviation: Aircraft Service International Group, EasyJet, Menzies Aviation, TUI and more all employ between 1,000 and 2,000 people. The University of Bedfordshire is also one of the town’s notable employers, with a similar number of staff.
As well as the aviation industry, Luton has a thriving new enterprise scene. So much so, in fact, that the town ranked fourth in the Lambert Smith Hampton UK Vitality Index in 2018 – the first time it had been included in the report. Lambert Smith Hampton analysed 66 towns outside of London in order to identify those that provide the greatest opportunities for businesses expansion and are best positioned for growth.

“It’s great news to see Luton ranking in The Vitality Index’s Most Entrepreneurial list for the first time and it’s testament to the inward investment that it is attracting, as well as the commitment to improving the local economy.”

Lloyd Spencer, Head of Office for LSH Milton Keynes and Luton
Luton ranked highly due to its supportive business environment and high number of new enterprises per capita (it had the highest number out of all 66 locations). London Luton Airport Enterprise Zone – one of only a couple of dozen enterprise zones in the UK – played a key part in the ranking. The enterprise zone, which was announced in late 2015, has attracted more than £1.5 billion in private sector investment, creating thousands of jobs and driving forward a programme of local infrastructure enhancements.

“What we’re seeing in Luton is a town that already has a busy economy thanks to the presence of London Luton Airport, but one where entrepreneurial spirit is flourishing as well. For buy to let property UK investors, this is excellent news, as Luton has all the right elements to draw in bright, talented young professionals and thus fuel demand for centrally located rental homes.”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest
Those founding their own companies are benefitting from Luton’s enterprise zone effect. The June 2018 Luton Gross Disposable Household Income report, from Luton Business Intelligence, reveals that earnings from self-employment have risen in relation to the national average in recent years, as the town’s entrepreneurs play their part in its economic success.
Not only is Luton well regarded for its entrepreneurial credentials, the town also ranks highly when it comes to environmental issues. The UK Vitality Index placed it fourth in its top ten greenest locations ranking, with Luton performing well in areas such as CO2 emissions per capita, energy consumption and household recycling.
Those looking to capitalise on Luton’s superb market fundamentals are invited to consider The Orion. Just minutes from Luton station and town centre, the development is ideally positioned for those commuting into London, as well as those working in Luton itself. The one- and two-bedroom apartments have been designed with luxury firmly in mind, with high specifications that will appeal to tenants looking for contemporary homes in a great location. Prices start from £172,900, which is 10% below the value of comparable homes on the market.

To find out more about investing in Luton and other UK regional locations, be sure to follow the Surrenden Invest team on social media.

Growth location focus: Birmingham

Growth location focus: Birmingham

The UK’s population is booming and one result of this is a severe shortage of housing in many areas. Coupled with a shift away from home ownership and towards private renting, particularly in urban areas, this has created a number of key rental market growth locations. Birmingham is a prime example.

“Birmingham has the ideal combination of factors to make it a buy to let property UK investment hotspot. The city’s population is growing rapidly and the rate of house building has lagged behind the level of demand for new homes for many years. At the same time, urban regeneration work in the city centre is creating a number of sought-after locations, with renters wanting to be close to the heart of the action.”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest
According to Surrenden Invest’s report on National Growth Locations, Birmingham’s ambitious, large-scale regeneration projects, such as the £1.5 billion Birmingham Smithfield redevelopment, are drawing renters to the city centre in their droves. Meanwhile, the city’s established economic credentials (centred around manufacturing, retail, tourism and financial services and, more recently, creative and digital/tech businesses) are creating plenty of employment opportunities.
The West Midlands as a whole has a bright outlook. Savills has projected compound growth of 19.3% over the five years to 2023 for the area’s house prices. Birmingham is the region’s shining star. In fact, it the city has outshone many other urban areas in the UK over the past few years, with prices there rising faster than in any other UK city since the UK’s EU referendum in 2016.
Birmingham’s population is growing hand in hand with its house prices. The city is known for its youthful population, with the Birmingham Economic Review 2017 naming it the youngest major city in Europe. Nearly 40% of the population are under the age of 25. There were some 1,147,300 residents in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics. That figure is set to rise to 1,313,300 by 2041 – growth of 14.5%.

“Birmingham’s economic credentials are backed by a strong cultural offering. This is a city with a vast amount to offer its young population, which is why it is enjoying such sustained popularity, particularly in terms of city centre living. Successful housing developments are those which meet not just the needs but also the aspirations of those young people.”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest
No.76 Holloway Head is one such site. The development enjoys an outstanding city centre location, just a couple of hundred metres from Birmingham’s upscale Mailbox and within two minutes of Birmingham New Street Station, Grand Central and the Bullring – the ideal spot from which to enjoy a luxurious urban lifestyle. The one- and two-bedroom homes, with their spacious, elegant interiors, provide the perfect upscale residence for ambitious young professionals looking to make the most of life in prime central Birmingham.

For regular updates on investing in Birmingham and other UK regional cities, be sure to follow the Surrenden Invest team on social media.

Location focus: London Luton Airport Enterprise Zone

Location focus: London Luton Airport Enterprise Zone

London Luton Airport is the fifth busiest airport in the UK, according to Inside Flyer, with more than 15 million passengers passing through its terminals. Luton is also the UK’s leading business aviation airport, and one of the top three business aviation airports in Europe. Leading businesses including Gulfstream, Harrods, Signature Flight Support and Landmark Aviation all have a significant presence there.

Luton’s airport is the cornerstone of the town’s economy, accounting for around 10% of overall employment in the area. In 2015 it was granted enterprise zone status by the government.

“Becoming an enterprise zone marked a new phase in London Luton Airport’s development, as well as in the development of the town itself. It signalled confidence in the unique capabilities that Luton has to offer and in its future potential.”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest
The enterprise zone incorporates three sites: Century Park and adjacent land; Airport Business Park and adjacent land and Stirling Place. The massive programme of work will include a £100 million road infrastructure scheme and the creation of a £200 million Mass Passenger Transport system that will connect the airport terminal directly with Luton Airport Parkway train station. Commercial offices and retail premises are also incorporated into the ambitious plans.
London Luton has a two-hour-drive catchment area that exceeds that of London Heathrow, at 23 million people. It contributes £1.3 billion annually to UK GDP and £648 million to the Treasury. Luton’s enterprise zone status means that the airport and its surrounding area can offer reduced business rates to new companies, as well as to existing businesses that are looking to grow and/or relocate.
The zone has been a catalyst for economic growth, drawing £1.5 billion of private investment into Luton. This has not focused solely on aviation but has created a wide range of opportunities – including in Luton’s property market, which has becoming increasingly attractive to buy to let property UK investors as the enterprising town has thrived.

“Luton is already an inviting investment prospect as a result of its affordability and excellent access to London. The influx of investment into the town, and the resulting regeneration of a number of local facilities – as well as the airport’s expansion – have made it an even more attractive proposition.”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest
London Luton Airport is currently undergoing the biggest expansion project in its history. The £160 million, three-year transformation will see passenger capacity increased to 18 million travellers by 2020 – an uplift of 50%. The airport’s redevelopment will see the addition of new boarding gates, a boarding pier and a host of retail outlets. The infrastructure enhancements will also include a new bus interchange, dual carriageway and multi-storey car park, making London Luton Airport even more accessible and traveller-friendly.

“This is a new era for LLA. We are the fastest-growing major London airport and are now in a position to play an increasingly important role in the UK’s aviation network.”

Nick Barton, CEO, London Luton Airport
Perfectly positioned to take advantage of it all, the beautifully designed apartments of The Orion are just a 10-minute drive from London Luton Airport. The one- and two-bedroom homes deliver luxury living within an easy commute from London (Luton railway station is just minutes away, providing direct trains into St Pancras in as little as 22 minutes).
Priced from £172,900 and with 6% net yield per annum assured, The Orion’s apartments provide an excellent opportunity for investors to be part of Luton’s rosy future and enjoy all the advantages that come with the airport’s designation as an enterprise zone.

For regular updates on investing in Luton and other London commuter belt destinations, follow the Surrenden Invest team on social media.

Business snapshot – let’s take a look at the Birmingham commuter belt

Business snapshot – let’s take a look at Dudley

The Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, to the North West of Birmingham, is a popular home for families looking to enjoy the perfect blend of suburban life and access to green space, while still enjoying all the economic opportunities that a thriving business environment can provide. The borough is home to over 100 business parks, making it a key player in the Black Country economy.

The power of a business park to support regeneration in an area is significant. Brierly Hill’s Waterfront Business Park is an excellent example. Home to over 20 companies, it offers a wide range of commercial properties to companies looking for well-designed and well-connected premises. Not only that, but those connections are shortly due to get a whole lot better, with Brierly Hill directly benefitting from the £449 million extension to the West Midlands Metro tram line.
Further regeneration work is also taking shape in the local area. Just two minutes from the site of the new Brierly Hill tram stop (due for completion by 2023) is Oak Court. The stylish apartments are largely one-bedroom homes, in line with current demand for rental homes in the local area. Designed to serve both the Dudley Borough and Birmingham rental markets, the apartments will offer spacious homes designed to meet the needs of professional tenants looking to enjoy a contemporary suburban lifestyle.

Oak Court is a particularly interesting development as investors have a chance to be involved in Brierly Hill at a very significant phase in the town’s history. The tramline extension, which will provide a rapid connection to central Birmingham, is opening up regeneration opportunities like never before. Coupled with the Borough of Dudley’s focus on business and economic opportunities, this is a location that will be of important regional significance over the coming decade and beyond, particularly for those with an interest in buy to let property UK prospects.”

Jonathan Stephens, MD, Surrenden Invest
Home to just shy of 320,000 people, the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley certainly punches above its weight when it comes to business opportunities. And with renters increasingly finding themselves priced out of central Birmingham, the borough is ideally placed to capitalise on the potential of its housing prospects as well.
Oak Court is ideally placed to benefit from all of these factors. It is situated within the heart of a £1 billion Enterprise Zone and is adjacent to the new £100 million Merry Hill Shopping Centre. Available from £82,000, homes at Oak Court offer rental yields of 7% with a full management programme in place. A short build time means that they will be ready for occupation from winter 2019.

To stay abreast of the latest developments in Brierly Hill and Dudley, follow the Surrenden Invest team on social media.

New Build Terminology: A Guide

New builds are an increasingly attractive option for those who are looking to relocate or invest in their first property. To help you prepare for this important purchase, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the terminology that you’re likely to come across when buying a new build home.

General Terms

Vendor

Often used as a more formal alternative to ‘seller’ to describe the individual who has put the property up for sale.

Contract

A legal document that will set out the main terms of agreement between the vendor and the purchaser. It will typically contain details such as the names and addresses of each party, and the price of the transaction. Both the vendor and the purchaser will be required to sign their own copy of the contract ready for exchange.

Off-plan

This refers to a new build property that has not been built yet.

IFA

An abbreviation used to describe an Independent Financial Advisor.

Ombudsman

This refers to an independent professional body (or bodies) who are tasked with investigating grievances on behalf of customers. They may take on cases involving estate agents, solicitors or insurance companies.

The Process

Reservation Fee

This is a payment that is made at the point that the property is taken off the market. It will then be deducted from the exchange balance.

Deposit

This is the part of the purchase price – the lump sum – that is paid by the buyer on exchange of contracts.

Memorandum of Sale/Sales Letters

Sometimes referred to as a Notification of Sale, this is a document which records the transaction between the buyer and the vendor. It will contain information on the price of the property, the personal details of both parties, and contact details for their separate lawyers. It may also specify any special conditions of sale which have been negotiated – for example, some buyers or vendors may request that they are ready to exchange by a certain date). The Memorandum of Sale is not a legally-binding agreement.

Searches

This refers to the process whereby checks will be carried out on local council records to obtain information on any relevant planning applications and restrictions that may affect the property.

Subject to Contract

This term is often used to suggest that the property is in the process of being sold, but agreements are not yet legally binding.

Exchange of Contracts

This refers to the point at which copies of signed contracts from both parties are swapped by solicitors. The buyer’s deposit will also be handed over. Once the vendor and the buyer have exchanged, the contract is binding by law and neither of these individuals can back out of the agreement without facing financial consequences.

Completion Date

On this day, the legal transaction will be finalised and all documents and funds will have been distributed. Normally, the vendor’s solicitor will ask the estate agent to release the keys to the buyer at this time, too. In the case of new builds, ‘short stop’ and ‘long stop’ dates may also be specified; the developer will expect to have finished all building works by the short stop date, but MUST have completed the build by the long stop date.

Requisition on Title

This refers to any enquiry that relates to the completion agreements.

The Property

Land Registry

This refers to the government department which records ownership of the land and any conditions pertaining to it.

Survey

This is an initial inspection of the property that is carried out by a professional, qualified surveyor. Depending on the type and condition of the property, the buyer may instruct the surveyor to carry out either:
  • A valuation report – this is mainly completed for the benefit of the mortgage company.
  • A Homebuyers’ report – this provides the buyer with important information on the overall condition of the property.
  • A full structural survey – this is a more in-depth report that examines structural detail and provides more comprehensive recommendations.

Property Information Form/Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form

Both forms need to be completed by the seller to determine what will be left behind in the property at the point of sale. They will also include details on guarantees.

Seller’s Pack

This is typically made up of a Property Information Form and a Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form, along with the title deeds and a copy of the draft contract.

Snagging

This involves the developer touching up paintwork, adjusting appliances and making good any other minor issues within the property prior to the buyer entering the property.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

This important document will contain comprehensive information on energy use and performance at the property, along with its estimated carbon dioxide emissions and fuel costs.

Mortgages

Mortgage Offer

A formal written offer made by a bank or building society to lend an approved amount to purchase a property.

Mortgage Redemption Figure

The amount required to repay the outstanding capital/interest of a mortgage.

Repayment Mortgage

Your monthly repayment includes part interest and part capital repayment. So long as you meet all of the payments required by the lender on time, your mortgage will gradually reduce until it is repaid in full.

Ownership and Charges

Title Deeds

Legal documents that prove ownership of land/buildings and the terms on which they are owned.

Transfer of Title

This is the document that effectively passes ownership of the property from the vendor to the buyer.

Stamp Duty or LBTT (Scotland)

This tax, which is paid by the buyer, is calculated by analysing the percentage rate that is applicable to each portion of the property’s sale price.

Leasehold

This will grant the buyer with ownership of the property itself, but not the land it is built on. If a property is leasehold, the owner will normally need to pay ground rent to whoever owns the freehold. Please note that leasehold terms are offered on terms of between 125-999 years.

Ground Rent

The annual fee which the leaseholder will pay to the freeholder.

Maintenance/Service Charge

A charge paid towards a freehold or leasehold property. It normally applies to apartments/flats.

Estate Charge

This is a charge which is made the upkeep of the overall site.

How to keep your best tenants

How to keep your best tenants

By Surrenden Invest | [post_published]
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Traditionally, tenants start to think about renewing their agreement around three months before it is due to expire. This always used to provide the tenant with plenty of time to find alternative accommodation if their landlord wanted to increase their rent. However, the due to the current market, which has a surplus of rental properties, some tenants are now planning their exit up to 12 months in advance. If you have long-term tenants who appear to be satisfied with their living arrangements, do not get complacent – they may be on the lookout for their next great home.

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Most tenants move to get better value, and this is especially true when they have been living in the same place for around three to five years. Many will closely follow the rate of rental inflation, and keep an eye on prices. In the least competitive areas, for every tenant looking for a new apartment or house, there are 10 to 15 suitable properties on the market. The combination of increasingly savvy tenants and a more competitive market makes it challenging for landlord agents to keep their best customers. Here are some tips to help you ensure that your tenants renew their contract with you.
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Never Neglect Your Tenants

Throughout the tenancy, be sure to reply to every concern. Most tenants leave a property because simple maintenance issues are not resolved by their landlord or agent. If they always wait four weeks to get a tap fixed, or a boiler repaired, they will soon start to look for a modern property with new fixtures and fittings. This is why a good property manager is essential for busy landlords – they’ll be able to deal with these day-to-day queries much faster.

Be Ready to Negotiate on Price

If a tenant asks for a lower rent before renewal time, think carefully before rejecting it. The chances are they have either seen something better for the same price, or something similar for less. People only move if they have good reason to, and it’s usually either down to money or the quality of the accommodation. Dropping the rent for 12 months is less costly than risking a void period.

Keep a Close Eye on the Local Market

Monitor all new properties coming to the market and consider how your tenants will view them. Invest in your property every couple of years to match current trends – be sure to update fixtures and fittings, replace flooring and ensure everything is maintained to a high standard. Because tenants rarely have permission to change anything within an apartment, many resort to moving to a new build when their accommodation gets a little tired, rather than approaching the landlord and asking them to update the property.

Trust Professional Guidance and Discuss Feedback

Market conditions can change rapidly, so always trust the advice given by your agency. Sometimes an agent will tell you to drop your rental price to attract new tenants. As mentioned already, in some areas there are more properties on the market than tenants, so competition amongst property investors is high. Agents and landlords should discuss market conditions on a regular basis to ensure there are no surprises.

Constant Property Research

Before making any decisions, carry out extensive research so that you are fully aware of market conditions. Property investors hire agents for their knowledge of market conditions, as well as their marketing expertise. Ultimately, the key to retaining the best tenants is to ensure that the property is always offered at a fair price for its age and condition. If you decide not to update it every few years, be prepared to freeze or even drop your price if you wish to avoid that dreaded void period.
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Housing Manifesto Pledges of the Leading Political Parties

All three main political parties agree that we need to build more homes in England and Wales. However, there is no agreement on how this policy is carried out.

The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats each have alternative ideas on the number of houses required, how they will be built and how much tax payers’ money should be used to support this building work. We have examined the housing policies of each of the three dominant parties in the run up to the 2017 General Election.

What are the parties promising on housing?

Because housing is a devolved issue, Westminster is only responsible for policy in England and Wales. Here we share the most important points to highlight how parties agree, and where they differ, on the delivery of housing.
Each of the main political parties have published their housing policy within their manifestos, and we encourage our readers to review each one carefully before the election, so read the ConservativeLabour and the Liberal Democrat manifestos.
The Conservative Party has pledged to enact all the reforms suggested in the Housing White Paper, which contains vital information on the private rental sector, including the construction of more affordable housing for rent, as well as an update on the ban on lettings agents’ fees and minimum tenancies.
If the latest polls are anything to go by, the result of the election is unpredictable at present. While the Conservatives are still favourites to win, there is a chance of a hung parliament, and a coalition is not an impossible outcome, although the Liberal Democrats have already said they will not form another coalition with either party.