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What is it to be British? Our stubbornness, long-suffering stoicism, our vexation at injustice, our obsession with football and rugby, we are weather obsessed external awkward noncommittal modest people whilst underneath seething like a volcano because someone jumped the queue….. and our No.1 obsession is with the property ladder.

This ‘love affair’ with owning our own home has been both good and bad for the UK as a whole; giving people financial freedom in their later years whilst also reducing the quantity (and quality) of housing provision whilst adding the extra pressure of a ‘them and us’ society. Strong words I know .. but let me explain more.

I honestly believe that most Governments since the end of the 1970’s, Conservative and Labour, have attempted to nourish our addiction to home ownership (to keep the housing market on track) with the Council House Right to Buy sell off in the 1980’s, tax relief of mortgages, relaxation of the mortgage rules in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s and most recently, the Help to Buy scheme.

But the Brits haven’t always had this obsession.

Roll the clock back 100 years and, in 1918, just under a quarter of all Brits owned their own homes and the other 77% rented. Go back 50 years to 1968, and only 46% of people owned their own home, the rest rented. This homeownership thing is quite a recent phenomenon.

According to my research, anyone looking to get a foot onto the property ladder as a first-time buyer in East Grinstead today, AS A SINGLE PERSON, would need to spend 13.5 times their earnings on an East Grinstead first time buyer property.

Using the numbers from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the average value of a first-time buyer property in East Grinstead today is £270,000, compared to £189,000 in 2007. If we divide those property values by the average annual earnings of first time buyers - in 2007, that was £17,485 pa and that has risen to £20,043 pa .. giving us the ratio of 13.5 to 1.

However, what must be remembered is that these are raw statistics from the ONS and don’t take into account other factors, like most people buy their first home as a couple. Also, mortgage rates are at an all-time low and who can remember mortgage rates of 15%+ in the 1990’s, meaning borrowing today is relatively cheap. Also, 95% Loan to Value first time buyer mortgages have been available since the end of 2009 (i.e. you only need to save a 5% deposit) and first time buyer rates of 2.19% fixed for 5 years can be obtained (correct at time of writing this article)… it is cheaper to buy than rent .. fact!

I believe there has been a mind-set change to owning a home. Home ownership was the goal of the youngsters in the latter half of the 20th century. Britain is changing to a more European model of homeownership, where people rent in early to mid-life, wait to inherit the money from their parents when in their 50’s and then buy.. thus continuing the circle - albeit in a different way to the last Century.

This means the demand for privately rented accommodation will, in the long term, only continue to grow. If you would like to know more about where the hot spots are for that growth in East Grinstead, then drop me or our lettings manager Ally Hutchings an email (kate@alexandre-boyes.co.uk / ally@alexandre-boyes.co.uk) or telephone call 01342 321142, feel free to pick our brains on the best places to buy (and not to buy) in East Grinstead to ensure your rental investment gets you what you want.

Kate Boyes MRICS FARLA

Kate Boyes FARLA MRICS

Group Director

Kate has been letting and managing property for 15 years, having established Alexandre Boyes Residential Lettings in 2003 and Alexandre Boyes Estate & Block Management in 2007. Kate is fiercely proud of the reputation both teams have in Tunbridge Wells & East Grinstead. Kate launched a national product, Resident, in August 2014 being an online property management software that is now utilised by Alexandre Boyes clients enabling them to log in and transparently view information on their blocks of flats and estates.

Kate has a first class honours degree in Land Management from the University of Reading specializing in Investment & Finance, and trained at Nelson Bakewell (now Capita Symonds), a Property Consultancy, in London. She qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 2004, and is a Fellow of ARLA. She became a Board member of ARLA in June 2015, representing Kent, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire.

"Our aim over the last 20 years has been to develop Alexandre Boyes into the 'go to' local agent, the alternative choice to the major brands. Contemporary, fresh marketing combined with genuine traditional values and service, and most importantly in depth local as well as professional knowledge make us the obvious choice."

Kate's role at Alexandre Boyes lettings focuses on valuations and new business, procedures & policies, and marketing. In block management she advises on new business, and oversees policy and procedures internally. When she isn't working (which is not very often!) she can be found enjoying a glass of wine at Sankeys or spending time with her three children at home in Sussex.