Buying and selling for a profit used to be ‘easy’. Through the millennium you could buy a property and be guaranteed it would make money in a few years and in some cases, a few months. Some people (and mortgage lenders!) seemed to think house prices would continue to rise, others warned of a housing bubble, but didn’t seem to be able to accurately predict when it would burst.
However, burst it did, starting in the States and hitting the UK very hard. The recession appeared to start in the property sector and within months we saw sales drop by 50% prices fall by 20% from a 2007 peak. Rental income which normally rises when house prices fall, has suffered with year on year falls of 5% or more, voids have increased as have tenant rent arrears.
At the moment we seem to be in a strange state of flux. No-one seems to know what’s going to happen next. No-one can quite believe that such a sharp recession, within less than 12 months, can appear to be ‘over’. Yet, reports of green shoots in the property market and the wider economy seem to be talked about daily. The private sector is claiming their order books are growing again and recent figures even suggest unemployment is slowing.
But are things really starting to turn around? What about the huge debt we owe as a country, estimated at £13,000 per head of our population*? It is true that business has taken the brunt of the credit crunch and the public sector has yet to be heavily squeezed? If this is true, what effect would public sector job cuts and pay being frozen (or cut) have on our economy – and the property market – next year?
More importantly, as property investors, what does Lentor Modern this mean for you? What’s the good news? What’s the bad news? And most importantly, if you have money to invest, are there any properties that are ‘safe’ to invest in? Are are short term profits from property possible, or is it only possible to make money out of property in the long term?
The good news
Many investors who had pulled out of the market back in 2006 (or before) have been buying heavily since October 2008. Those that bought within the first six months of the crash benefited by snapping up bargains from the huge over supply of property for sale and a massive rise in repossessions. Buying ‘below market value’ became the ‘favourite phrase’ of the property investment industry and canny investors were buying properties up to 50% below their true value.