Rishi Sunak delivered a big tax-and-spend budget to the UK last week, but what does it mean for property investors?
The property market was buoyed through covid by the Stamp Duty land Tax (SDLT) cuts. This coupled with the pent-up demand, which was an overhang from the prolonged and tortuous Brexit negotiations. This resulted in a surprising 10.6% house price growth over the year to August 2021*.
With this Budgetary overlay how will property investors be affected?
On the one hand there was some positive economic news:
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts for the UK have been revised to the positive:
Economic scarring from Covid has been revised down from 3% to 2% as a drag on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Public borrowing is forecast at £183 bn in 2021/22 vs the original £234bn
And there are negative pressures:
The tax burden will rise to 36.2% GDP by 2026/7 the highest since the 1950s
The national Insurance increases to cater for the health and social care levy, will hit middle earners and low earners although the bolstering of the Minimum Wage lessens the impact for some lower earners
There are likely to be rises in Council Tax bills which will add to the woes of energy and fuel prices. The Treasury has assumed annual rises of 3% as a minimum, with the expectation it could rise by 6% a year for many years to come.
These measures, combined with higher inflation will squeeze real incomes, as wages don’t keep pace.
And there is the added uncertainty of the UK’s relationship with the European Union which exacerbates the already strained international supply chains. Not only for day-to-day availability of goods but also for developers, and investors undertaking refurbishment work. OBR figures indicate that UK-EU trade dropped by 15% compared with 2019 while non-EU trade fell by 7%. This suggests there is a net Brexit impact of about 8%
Are you a Pensioner?
If so you will feel the discomfort as the Triple Lock on pension sums is suspended. This is likely to cost each pensioner on average £2,600 over the course of 5 years. The Triple lock guaranteed growth of: either 2.5%, or in line with average annual earnings growth, or inflation – whichever is the higher.
And ISA limits are frozen until at least 2023
This compounds the effect of persistent low rates for mainstream investments and savings accounts. This might maintain property investing momentum, as investors turn to property for better returns
How to Navigate the Property market?
In the property sector the much-anticipated increase in mortgage interest payments, may just be around the corner. Many of you younger investors and homeowners may not remember the time mortgage interest rates rose to over 15% in the late 80’s. So whilst we aren’t entering those realms necessarily, the interest rate rises will be the biggest since the financial crisis. The OBR expects the Bank of England to raise the Bank Rate from 0.1% to 0.75% by the end of 2023, which will translate through to mortgage repayments.
This is a time for you to take stock and not mortgage to the hilt, whether investing or buying a home. Rates can go up as well as down. And consider locking into a predictable low rate now.
Cladding and Mortgageability
There are still distortions in the property market cause by the Cladding fiasco, particularly in city centres. Without the EWS1 forms (External Wall System Cladding assessment) many properties are unmortgageable and consequently pretty much unsellable. This has helped push up the prices for the mortgageable stock available on the market. A double whammy for sellers and you buyers.
The Budget announced the Cladding Levy on builders with over £25m annual profits. This will contribute to the £5bn the government has committed to fixing the cladding crisis.
This levy is a bit indiscriminate, given it does not necessarily hit the builders who are responsible for the situation. But will nevertheless affect new development investment decisions and is likely to affect new build prices. This could impact the future supply of housing and fuel price rises, not dampen them.
Investors among you take note that not all infrastructure investment works well. Take the Freeport status, conferred on eight cities and towns in the Spring Budget, heralded as boosting the nationwide economy though lower tax regimes. The OBR’s analysis suggests this simply alters location choices, rather than boosting the overall national economic picture.
So investors, it is worth realistically assessing whether the Infrastructure boost is real or flimsy.
UK Budgetary implications for you property investors in summary
The market is likely to polarise with new build becoming more expensive and resales looking better value for money.
Larger scale Developers are likely to include more of the tax burden and higher build costs into their retail property prices.
Second hand homes might look even better value in comparison. We could see more distressed sales as the reality of the higher cost of living bites.
Undertaking developments has greater uncertainty currently for you with build costs higher, planning departments more overstretched than ever and lead times ever longer. So if you are taking on projects, think carefully about where you can minimise risks, either through mitigating any planning downside or minimising build changes and working with professionals with integrity.
If you want help on your property investment journey then get in contact +44 (0) 1932 849 536 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
My business focuses on helping time-strapped expats and busy business people who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy that finds the right investment properties for clients.
*ONSTags: Buy to let, EWS1, investment property, new build, Resale, second hand