Doom and gloom in the British property market or clickbait doom-mongers?
Newspapers and clickbait 24-7 news websites, desperate for clicks, are peddling a story of a doomsday time for the economy, particularly the property market, as interest rates and inflation create the perfect storm for the UK property market.
So, let us look at what is happening in the British property market and whether house prices will drop.
Yes - Gillingham house prices will be lower in 24 months.
Yet the reductions in what I believe a property will sell for in the next couple of years compared to the doom-mongers is wildly different.
The doom-mongers are saying the 2022 property market will be like the crash years of 1988 and 2008.
I'm afraid I have to disagree, let me explain what the difference is this time compared to the previous house price crashes.
To start with …
56.25% of homeowners don’t have a mortgage, whilst in 1988, that was 35.8%. These people are shielded from the interest rate rises.
The next point is negative equity.
Yes, negative equity was an issue after 1988 when everyone had an endowment mortgage, so they never paid any of the capital off their mortgage. Therefore, when house prices dropped, negative equity was a massive issue as people owed more than what their house was worth.
By 2008, nobody was taking out endowment mortgages, yet still, 1 in 2 were interest-only mortgages (meaning the capital wasn’t being paid off). Today, 17 out of 20 homeowners are on repayment mortgages - so they have more home equity, so negative equity isn't so much an issue.
The issue is the increasing interest rates. Yes, they are rising … albeit from artificially low rates.
In 1988, nearly everyone was on a variable rate mortgage and an average mortgage interest rate was 10.8%, and they rose to 16.4% by 1990. That hurt, yet most survived.
In 2008, 6 out of 10 homeowners had learned their lesson and were on fixed rates at an average rate of 6.07%. Today 17 out of 20 homeowners have long-term fixed rates with an average of 2.14%.
Also, it must be noted that homebuyers have been stress tested for 6% to 7% mortgage rates since 2014 because of the Bank of England MMR rule changes. It will be challenging, and lifestyle choices will need to be made, yet we should not see the dumping of houses on the market as we did in 2008/9.
The next issue is the number of mortgages being pulled. Yes, around 1,000 mortgage deals have been removed in the last week - yet there are still 3,000+ deals out there … and most are still fixed rates.
Also, let’s not forget that 1 in 5 people rent today and are protected from all this, yet in 1988, only 1 in 14 rented.
Therefore, the economic conditions surrounding the house price
crash in 1988 and 2008 are not there now.
Don’t get me wrong, those homeowners coming off their fixed rates of around 2% in the coming years will have to make tough choices as they will see their monthly mortgage payments rise substantially.
Yet, as I have discussed in other articles, extending your mortgage term can significantly affect your monthly mortgage payments and there are things that homeowners should be doing now to mitigate the issue in the coming few years.
But back to the question, should people wait to move, and what
will happen to Gillingham property prices?
I believe that subject to nothing seismic happening in the world, Gillingham property values will be broadly neutral and slowly drift downwards over the next 24 months. I believe they will drift because of the issues of inflation and mortgage affordability, yet we won’t have a crash for the points made in the first part of this article. I believe Gillingham property will be selling for sums of 4% to 6% less in a couple of years compared to today.
This means if we achieve prices of 4% to 6% less, homeowners will still be getting the same prices the property market was getting in the summer of 2021 – again – nobody was complaining about those!
However, let us assume I am wrong with my thoughts, and we see
a significant house price crash; what then?
Well, let me look at the last two house price crashes first.
The housing crash of 1988 saw the average house in the UK drop from £63,784 to £50,167, a drop of 20.09%.
The housing crash of 2008 saw the average house in the UK drop from £184,132 to £154,065, a drop of 16.33%.
So, let’s assume that Gillingham house prices fall by 18% -
surprisingly, it will not help Gillingham buyers.
In previous house price crashes, people tend to find their careers are more at risk, and in turn, their wages don't rise as much. It is the younger generation (i.e., first-time buyers age range) that often gets hit the toughest by these recessions.
Let me look at Gillingham first-time buyers.
If Gillingham first-time buyers wait until 2024 to buy and Gillingham property values drop by 18%, that will prove more expensive. Let me explain why …
In the last property crash of 2008, lenders withdrew 5% deposit mortgages. The smallest mortgage that first-time buyers could obtain was with a 10% deposit, and even those were hard to come by.
When writing this article, first-time buyers can obtain a 5% deposit mortgage for a fixed rate of 3.92% for five years.
The typical first-time buyer terraced house in
Gillingham sells for £264,210.
If first-time buyers were to buy now, on this mortgage deal, they would have to find a £13,211 deposit, and their monthly mortgage payments would be £1,099.35 per month.
So, let’s say property values in Gillingham do drop by 18% in the next 24 months; the terraced house would now be worth £216,652, a significant saving in the purchase price.
Or is it?