• Kevin Murphy

UK: Available & Empty Homes Analysis

Despite the ongoing shortage of residential properties available to buyers in London more than 20,000 homes and another 25,378 in the commuter belt have been vacant for more than six months in a report by Homes & Property Newsletter.

The charity Empty Homes reported that 19,845 homes were vacant in 2017.

Locations including Barnet, Camden, Croydon, Southwark and Kensington & Chelsea have at least 1,000 homes vacant six months or more. The charity, however, predicts that these numbers may actually be higher in these areas.

The results come from a review of local council tax information:

’Its data is based on council tax information which does not include semiderelict properties, while some owners may continue paying the tax on empty property, effectively hiding the fact it is vacant.’

The Annual Homeless Monitor by Crisis and Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds that 40% of London’s local councils are having increases for the homeless.

The charity says:

“There is enough evidence to suggest government needs to explore additional measures to stop people buying and holding on to properties not to live in, but to store and grow their wealth.

Measures could include further reforms to the council tax system to enable councils to charge a lot more where properties are left empty.”

National Numbers

The numbers for the rest of England for empty homes is staggering. For the first time in a decade the increase of vacant homes has risen 322% a year with the city of York with the largest increase in long term vacant homes.

The total value for empty homes nationally is estimated to be £50 billion.

For London one in ten homes are vacant at a total value of £9.6 billion according to HouseSimple with London seeing the second biggest increase in empty home stock at 229%. Next is Cambridge with an increase of 156%.

Birmingham has the most empty homes at 4,280 and Liverpool at 3,889.

Sam Mitchell, House Simple’s chief executive officer tells PropertyWire:

‘There are only so many times you can hear the latest housing minister declare we have a broken housing market and keep faith that they understand the scale of the problem. It would be good to see the Government actually do something about all these empty homes for a change.’

’The situation has worsened, not just in London but across the country. Surely it is time to think of some innovative solutions such as temporary capital gains tax relief for sales of empty, second or investment properties to help deal with this issue in the short term.’

The Flip Slide

Earlier this month PropertyWire data showed that the supply of homes for sale for the UK had increased for a fifth month in row. Huntingdon saw an increase of 98.3% for April. The next largest increase in supply was in Dundee at 40.3% and Huddersfield with 32.5%.

An increase 0.8% month on month of new properties for 100 towns and cities were available for sale according to data by HouseSimple.

As for the decrease in housing stock Durham had the biggest drop at 37.6%, followed by of 34.3% in Lichfield, Chichester down 33%, Mansfield down 25.7%, Hastings down 23.5%, Weston Super Mare down 22.4% and Bedford down 22.1%.

New property listings for London rose 4.4% just above the UK national average in March when compared with February. Newham had a rise of new sellers at 45.1%.

Sam Mitchell, HouseSimple chief executive officer told PropertyWire:

‘Although we haven’t seen a significant Spring bounce to date, supply has been moving in the right direction since the start of the year. And we are seeing completely different Spring conditions to last year, when Article 50 disrupted the market, and sellers stalled on listing their properties until they had a clearer economic picture.’

‘We are expecting to see strong seller activity in May and June. Buyers are showing real intent to purchase, especially with no sign of an interest rate rise in the immediate future and some extremely competitive mortgage deals on offer.’

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