Focus on: Kent Residential sector outperforms rest of UK

Good infrastructure, large and small towns, villages, coast, and countryside have all been a magnet for businesses, families and individuals migrating from other larger urban areas resulting in a race for space.

2021 has seen an insatiable demand for residential property across the county with frenetic activity during the first six months, aided by the 0% Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday for residential property up to £500k fuelling transactions and a lack of supply creating a surge in prices.

The national picture was reflected in Kent, a county that fulfils all of the above attributes. The 2021 Kent Property Market Report (KPMR) noted that the county’s residential property prices had, in fact, outperformed the rest of the UK.

Research conducted by Zoopla commissioned for this year’s KPMR revealed that all districts across Kent outperformed both the south east and UK average house price increase over the 12-months, with Dover and Canterbury both achieving a 6.7% increase over that period

Demand outstrips supply and construction thrives
With pre-loved homes in short supply, construction of new build has been active across Kent and residential schemes have been brought forward. In and around the county residential property has been built, planned or is coming on-stream in Ebbsfleet Garden City, Medway, Gravesend, Swale, Thanet, Folkestone, Canterbury, Ashford, Kings Hill, Sittingbourne and Faversham.

Proposal for 45 flats at Station Road Faversham (credit: George Wilson Holdings)

The pandemic has reshaped priorities and homeworking has facilitated what many hope will be a better work/life balance. London is an easy and fast commute away, which makes Kent a desirable destination, both to buy and rent, so the county has seen an influx of families and individuals seeking more space and quality of life. This will no doubt strengthen local communities and local economies, is vital for Kent’s economic development, and a silver lining if ever one was needed.

Rents have risen faster during this year than they have since the early days of the recession in 2008. Some of those who worked in London and other large conurbations pre-pandemic, moved back to parents or sold and moved out of towns and cities to ‘escape to the country’ and work from home. This caused an uplift in rents due to lack of available property and overdemand. More recently, businesses are slowly requesting employees to return to the office – for at least some of the time – and the result has been a rush back to centres of commerce, exacerbating the rise in rents and an ever greater dearth of available property.

Add to that a favourable time for landlords taking on a buy-to-let mortgage. Moneyfacts reports that for the past 12 months, the cost of mortgages rates for the buy-to-let sector (with a 60% loan to value) has fallen every month. So, competition for available and suitable property may be the only thing holding back new entrants to the buy-to-let marketplace.

However, there is potential for a new generation of retirees and freelancers/consultants to become landlords as lenders ease rules that have in the past prevented some from investing in the sector. Some lenders have dropped their ‘minimum income’ threshold, which will enable those previously excluded to participate.

A silver lining
At a time when some long-term landlords are looking to exit the market, there is an opportunity for new investors to get involved. With Kent property remaining more affordable, in relative terms, than the rest of the south east, this may be an ideal time for and those wanting to join the buy-to-let sector, or existing landlords to expand their portfolio.

For more detailed information follow this link to the Residential Performance sector data extract from this year’s Kent Property Market.

To view the full report visit Caxtons 2021 Kent Market Property Report or download the pdf here.

Caxtons recently won the EGi Most Active Agent in Kent award for commercial property transactions.

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