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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Where are the Twenty Somethings going to live in Northampton

My parents bought their first house in the 1980’s, they were in their early 20’s. Interestingly, looking at some research by the Post Office from a few years ago, in the 1960’s, the average age people bought their first house was 23. By the early 1970s, it had reached 27, rising to 28 in the early 1980’s. 

This year alone, 3,144 people in Northampton will turn 28, and 3,084 in 2017...and dare I say in 3,053 in 2018.. year in year out, the conveyor belt carries on .. where are the Northampton youngsters going to live?

Ask a Northampton ‘twenty something’ and they will say they do not expect to buy until they are in their mid thirties, seven years later than the 1980’s. Some people even say they will never be able to buy a property and the newspapers have labelled them ‘Generation Rent’, as they are people born in the 1980s who have no hope of getting on the property ladder. One of the major problems facing young Northampton people is the large deposit needed to get a mortgage… or is it?

The average price paid for an apartment in Northampton over the last 12 months has been £116,900 meaning our first time buyer would need to save £5,845 as a deposit (as 95% mortgages have been available to first time buyers since 2010) plus a couple of thousand for solicitors and survey costs. A lot of money, but people don’t think anything today of spending a couple of thousand pounds to go on holiday, the latest iPhone upgrade or the latest 4k HD television. That could soon be saved if these ‘luxuries’ were with held over a couple of years but attitudes have changed.

Official figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show the average male in Northampton with a full-time job earns £548.90 per week whilst the average female salary is £415.00 a week, meaning, even if one of them worked part time, they would still comfortably be able to get a mortgage for apartment.

I was reading a report/survey commissioned by Paragon Mortgages from the Autumn of last year. The thing that struck me was when tenants were asked about their long term housing plans, some 35% of participating tenants intend to remain within the sector and 24% intended to buy a house in the future, with the proportion of respondents citing the “unaffordability” of housing as the reason for renting privately increasing from 69% to 74%.

However, time and time again, in the starter home category of property (i.e. apartments), nine times out of ten, the mortgage payments to buy a Northampton property are cheaper than having to rent in Northampton. It is the tenant’s perceptions that believe they can’t buy, so choose not to. Renting is now a choice. Tenants can upgrade to bigger and better properties and move up the property ladder quicker than their parents or grand parents (albeit they don’t own the property). Over the last decade, culturally in the UK, there has been a change in the attitude to renting, unless that attitude changes, I expect that the private rental sector in Northampton (and the UK as a whole) is likely to remain a popular choice for the next twenty plus years. With demand for Northampton rental property unlikely to slow and newly formed households continuing to choose the rental market instead of purchasing a property. I also forecast that renting will continue to offer good value for money for tenants and recommend landlords pursue professional advice and adopt a realistic approach to rental increases to ensure that they are in line with inflation and any void periods are curtailed. 

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