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29 October 2014

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    DG Property Services in Luton.
    DG Property Services in Luton

    Estate Agent David Gauntlett has been in the property business for over 15 years. In 2000, he opened DG Property Services in Luton. David took some time out of his busy day to talk to us about the housing market in Luton.


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    DG Property Services
    26-28 Upper George Street, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 2RD

    Tel: 01582 511711

    The average first time buyer in Luton would now have to find around £90,000 - £135,000 to buy their first home.

    50 per cent of DG's buyers come from London and South Hertfordshire.

    get in contact

    How would you describe business at the moment in this area?
    It's definitely slowed down. I would say the market has changed considerably over the last three months, and that's due in the main to prices reaching their peak in Luton, right through from the bottom end of the market up to the top.

    Has 'Buy to Let' affected the housing market locally?
    For the past couple of years the bottom end of the market has been fairly saturated with investment purchasers - not giving first time buyers the opportunity to find a property let alone buy one.

    In the past we've had investment purchasers building their own portfolios, buying three or four houses at a time, with estate agents probably prioritising these investors over first time buyers simply because they can sell them two or three properties in one go.

    This has stimulated a growth in the bottom end of the market which has obviously then increased demand and property prices.

    However, now that the rents that these people are achieving against the values of the properties they have bought are no longer balancing, the market for investment purchases has slowed down considerably.

    David Gauntlett.
    Local Estate Agent David Gauntlett

    Could someone at the top end of the market reasonably expect to achieve their asking price in the current market?
    People are now having to consider offers, probably the most expensive properties in Luton - right up to £600,000 are taking time to sell. They are at their 'max' at the moment.

    These sort of properties are now getting offers coming in around £20,000 or £30,000 below the asking price - with negotiations taking place from there. So they're taking a bit longer to sell which is having a knock on effect through the rest of the market.

    Is there an element of panic now amongst first time buyers - in that if they don't buy something soon then they will never be able to get on the property ladder?
    Prices are at an all time high at the moment, and the main problem people have is raising a deposit to make buying a house more affordable.

    The average first time buyer in Luton would now have to find around £90,000 - £135,000 to buy their first home. We now predominantly find only couples coming in to look for a property, individuals can quite simply not afford it on their own.

    Even when earning £20,000 a year, then three times that is still quite simply not enough - even if they have a substantial deposit. It's hard for young people.

    However, first time buyers are definitely slowly coming back into the market - and they have plenty of choice now that the investment purchasers are not snapping up everything in sight.

    Most first time buyers will have already spoken to a lender or financial advisor and clarified exactly what they can afford - whether it be monthly expenditure or what they can borrow as a maximum and then they will come to us to view a range of properties.

    Working couples often find it hard to make the time to visit an Estate Agent's Office during the day and will make extensive use of estate agents websites to view suitable properties before expressing a serious interest - we don't get as many walk in enquiries as we used to.

    Do you find that people from London and South Hertfordshire who cannot afford to buy property there are now looking in Luton and the surrounding area for more affordable housing?
    Definitely - 50% of our buyers are from that area. The volume of London buyers is absolutely vast at the moment, simply because they cannot afford to buy anything in London. Luton is an ideal commuter town with great road and rail links into London.

    What would be your advice be to a first time buyer?
    If you're looking to become a first time buyer, you're aged between 25 and 30 and you've achieved a reasonably good position of employment with a good wage, then my advice would be to save as much as possible to be able to put down as big a deposit as you possibly can.

    This will enable you to keep your mortgage payments to an affordable level - don't borrow to your maximum because you've still got to be able to afford to live and pay all those other bills and still have something to fall back on if interest rates to start to fluctuate.

    It's a lot easier if you're a couple, you can definitely borrow more comfortably and obviously you'll have more money coming into the household.

    We have had instances of parents helping out their children with deposits on properties - all though this is obviously rare.

    Do you expect interest rates to rise and affect the market again?
    I certainly don't see us having another crash in the housing market like we did back in the 1980s.

    From talks we've had with financial advisers, they have all said that we should have a five per cent base rate by the end of the year - but they are not always right!

    The housing market as it is cannot go on - interest rates are the only real thing that makes a difference, they stimulate growth in markets or they decrease them, because at the end of the day it is all about what people can afford.

    The fact that we've had two mortgage rate increases already this year has definitely slowed the market down and made people think first and be a little bit more cautious.

    First time buyers are getting advice from their parents, and their parents are going to be a lot more cautious and advise their children against being impulsive and buying the first property they see.

    In an ideal world - would you alter anything about the housing market?
    When people want to buy a property, they don't always look clearly into whether they can really afford it or once they have put a mortgage application in they discover that something like an outstanding debt or a bad credit reference will affect their mortgage.

    This can then cause a problem within a chain when the Building Society turn around and say 'no' to the mortgage application.

    I would much rather see people actually clarify their status at the beginning of the process - it would speed things up ten fold because people could then walk into an estate agent's office with their money already arranged and ready to spend - not just saying 'yes - potentially we can buy that' because it's all subject to status and yet more paperwork.

    Home Buyers Reports are another thing that need overhauling. If you own your home you should have to prove to a prospective buyer that it is in good order.

    Vendors will eventually have to provide the equivalent of a Home Buyers Report on their house - pretty much like providing a service history and MOT when you sell your car!

    Showing that the property has been maintained correctly, and that any alterations have been done correctly and with the necessary permission.

    I think it will make people put their houses in order before they put them on the market so that when a buyer with their mortgage in place comes along to buy the property, the title of the property will have already been put in order and the condition of the property will have been established.

    The buyer will be aware of any defects on the property from the very beginning and again this will speed the whole process up - probably by half.

    It'll take some adjustment and may even slow things down for a while, but it'll be good for everyone in the end.

    Now read about the housing market in St Albans >>

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