Tuesday, Oct 27, 2009

Shock Horror Houses Cost 12 x's Actual Average Income

This is Exeter: Devon house prices — shock report

"YOUNG people are being priced out of the housing market by a massive gulf between house costs and the average wage in the city.
Calls have been made for an urgent injection of government cash to help resolve the housing crisis in Exeter after new figures revealed homes in the city cost more than 12 times the average income."
Surely nothing new here, but what exactly do they want the government to do? Regulate lenders in sensible loan to incomes perhaps and allow the market to fall back in line with sensible lending levels

Posted by sybil13 @ 08:33 AM (2864 views)
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1. drewster said...

Houses always cost more in nice places, that's a fact. Kensington costs more than Lambeth, because it's a nicer place. (Question: what makes a place 'nice'?)

You can pick up a cheap house in Hull or Newport, but nobody wants to live there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 08:44AM Report Comment

2. tyrellcorporation said...

Curtail second homes either through taxation or legislation - it's the only way. There is a house next door to me (4 bed townhouse) which is used about 3 times a year by a couple in their 50's who live in Edinburgh. This is a perfectly good family house taken off the market and out of the supply chain for 48 weeks of the year so someone can have their 4 weeks a year in Devon. IMO this is wrong.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 08:51AM Report Comment

3. dgj said...

The prices of fruit is too much and is 20x my fruit budget, is the government injecting cash going to help me?
No it will push the price of fruit up even higher by making the pound weaker!

If the house prices are 12x and are all mortgages its only a matter of time until these people realise they can't afford the houses at that price

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 08:54AM Report Comment

4. Neil B said...

This is not just Exeter - this is national. What are the government supposed to do? They created this price bubble after they promissed not to let it happen.
I know - lets give everyone a wage rise of 1200% and then the cost of houses will come back in line with salaries!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 09:02AM Report Comment

5. letthemfall said...

Completely agree. If not, the "charming" areas of the country will become 2nd home ghettoes, as certain villages in Cornwall already have.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 09:09AM Report Comment

6. quiet guy said...

Obviously, I sympathise with the plight of a young person in the area who wants to live there but if property prices have been bid up so high by incomers then that implies that local sellers were happy to take the money for selling their properties. It should be interesting, in a morbid sort of way, to see how this develops over the next decade or so.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 09:18AM Report Comment

7. drewster said...

tc, ltf,

Even so, 'nice' places will still cost more. Consider two towns next to each other, Windsor and Slough. They are only minutes apart; neither town is afflicted by absentee second-home owners; and Slough is on a fast train line to London, whereas Windsor is not. Nevertheless there is a gulf in house prices.
Consider also the 'downsizer' effect: couples spend twenty years in London earning lots, then they sell up their London home and move to Devon, even though it means a pay cut or becoming a one-earner household. They can afford 12x their new Devon salary, because they have lots of cash from their London house.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 09:18AM Report Comment

8. stillthinking said...

I went to Exeter University, and I remember during 1991-1994 you had the first year at the University rooms, and then you had to find a shared house. At that time there were surprisingly many people from fairly affluent households, and there were many cases when the family just bought a house for their son/daughter to share as an investment.

Go forward to 1997 to 2005 and this effect must have been magnified considerably as Exeter is really a small place, the University is a big chunk of the town. So I think probably this is one reason why houses are so dislocated from average wages.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 09:33AM Report Comment

9. tyrellcorporation said...

@ Drewster.

True, you'll never stop this downsizing ripple effect but second homes take thousands of properties out of the market place and create poverty traps for locals and ultimately kill off local services such as schools, hospitals, pubs, shops and post offices.

A case in point. 15 years ago my girlfriend's dad moved to Ely in Fife. It had numerous shops, pubs and a nice buzz about it. Now the place is almost entirely owned by wealthy Edinburghians and most of the facilities have shut down and the place is deathly silent during the week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 09:34AM Report Comment

10. Enough Already said...

@4 Payrises of 1200%? Only if you work in the public sector. Everyone else has to contend with 'globalisation'!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:05AM Report Comment

11. mark wadsworth said...

Normally I'd say that LVT would sort them out (and it would) but the real madness is the restrictions on supply.

Once you're past Bristol heading SW, only about one per cent of the land is developed (half a percent?), they could double number of houses and you wouldn't notice.

And if people insist on being NIMBYs, then at least LVT would force them to pay for the misery they impose on others.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:34AM Report Comment

12. letthemfall said...

Yes, that's true. I don't think people retiring down there is so much the problem, although if large numbers do so that will push prices and turn the SW into a kind of UK Florida. They do, however, contribute to the local economy by being part of it. 2nd home owners are simply sequestrating housing (the old attractive housing), turning Devon and Cornwall (and certain other parts of the country) into holiday/weekend parks.

One could just build more and more, but that isn't the whole answer. Some of the old Cornish fishing villages have had new (rather ugly) estates built outside the orginal settlement, now a weekday picture-postcard ghost town. The real problem is inequality and ease of transport. A small section of the population receives a disproportionately large income and they in effect use this to "pollute" areas of the country, turning them into economic deadspots. The answer to this is in my view progressive taxation, whether through LVT, income or a 2nd home tax - or all three.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:45AM Report Comment

13. Magnaman said...

I Live here - was an agent in the early nineties focusing on management ditching the sales side because of the last downturn. The Uni is key however, Exeter house prices galloped away when the Met office took up residence. However, this has been added to the asset sale by EL Gordo so who knows what impact this will have if the private sector get hold of it. like all government departments, it probably has 30% too mant staff!!.

Prices have exceeded the average (outside London) but most people are employed in the service sector, public sector and tourism. However, Devon County Council have today announced 500 redundancies and many of my friends have had their hours cut by about 20% (which interestingly has never been reported!).

Exeter is a lovely city anchored by the new Princesshay shopping development completed by Land Securities about 18 months ago. Whilst the population is around 110K, the City has a catchment nearing an additional 200K. However, shop vacancies are rising and have been estimated to be around 12%, which is above average.

Houses seem to be moving quickly but I am a property professional (in rented and still very bearish) and have noticed that most are poor and in the range of 150K to 250K. Above and below this level, there are some that have been on the market for 80 plus weeks (Property Bee) and have reduced by 1% or 2%. My own opinion is that Exeter will, like the 1990's suffer a major correction in the coming months. A colleague, who works for a major insolvency practice, has told me that many local and national businesses occupying commercial premises be they retail, industrial or offices are still in situ but for the grace of their landlords!!

A telling sign of the real local economy is the bars and restaurants which are running at under 50% capacity - JD Weatherspoons have 4 outlets which are bucking the trend but only because of their prices!! and Tim Martin, the owner, lives in Exeter!

During the last downturn, house prices increased fastest but fell by about 35% which was above average and I, along with many others, beleive this will be repeated or very possibly, overshoot....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:00AM Report Comment

14. shining wit said...

mark wadsworth @ 10.

"they could double the number of houses and not notice" - I've heard some ridiculous statements but that takes the biscuit. What about increased road traffic (twice the homes, twice the traffic maybe?), increased demand for schools, supermarkets, medical centres, fire stations, transpot links, in fact all the infrastructure that comes with increased population? Build twice as many houses there and you'll allow even more people to have second homes (LVT wont touch the rich).

"then at least LVT would force them to pay for the misery they impose on others." People who buy second homes do not (necessarily) impose on others. Perhaps they bought an existing second home or have had it in the family for generations. LVT has many good points about it but it's ability to right all the wrongs in the property market are usually based on simplistic models and perceptions. LVT would increase the amount of people who, having paid for their properties, would sit back and rely more on the state (LVT tax relief for the retired and low incomes) to support them.

The main reason there is such a dramatic variation in property to incomes in areas like the south west is that it's being invaded by people from London and the South East who have made their money. A friend (London born and bred) told me they had a dreadful year last year because they only earned £42k and that they were seriously considoring moving to cornwall. They own 2 properties in London and they have no mortgages (as do many hundreds of thousands, perhaps even more). They could spend 500k easily and pocket the rest. A land value tax would only increase their desire to do so. So instead of freeing up a chunk of real estate in the SW it would mean they they would retire earlier to the place and consolidate the property values there. Also do you really want more and more town expansion, with more and more factories, offices, large retail parks etc, reducing the amount of green space that makes the place so beautiful? I (personally) think London is a dump, but if you want to make money at virtually anything, you've a better chance of making it there with it's 10 million inhabitants? An awful lot of people from London buy in Devon and Cornwall because they thinks it's cheap!!!

Don't get me wrong, I think that LVT is basically a good idea but it is always going to be seen as anti property and anti capitalist, and as such it has as much chance of being introduced as does removing the ceiling on national insurance contributions. There are so many people with second homes, holiday homes (and a lot of them already live in the south west) that a LVT might mean they sell up.

Our country is becoming seriously overpopulated and as such the continual to-ing and fro-ing of the property debate will only increase in time.The british are truly obsessed with property, for various reasons including making the place look like a dump (40% of the place) and ramping up the whole economy to be loosely based around property and service industries. The south west is (still) one of the loveliest places in england (IMO), a lot of the south east, midlands, in fact the majority of the towns and cities in England are becoming more unnatractive with every burst our economies produce, please don't encourage even more irresponsible urban sprawl in the south west, unless of course you want it to look like essex, kent, hertfordshire and other parts of the country where the decreasing amount of green space, town infilling and city expansions is slowly strangling our green and pleasant land.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:37AM Report Comment

15. will said...

In their rush to maximise profits, property investors were chasing the capital growth of housing but paying back their borrowing by renting the properties out (buy to let). In a town like Exeter, where I live, and many others around the UK, landlords have discovered that the real rental income doesn't produce the income to match the capital values of their houses.

I am currently renting a house in Exeter at a yield of only 2.2% from its original selling price a year ago. That just doesn't make any business sense as I am certain a landlord's borrowing costs will be substantially higher.

I think that this situation will continue until interest rates begin to bite as surely they will when the Tories get elected, as they begin to re-balance the defecit, and when they do, places like Exeter will fall from their lofty hights.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:39AM Report Comment

16. will said...

@ 12 Shining wit

I agree with your comments about Londoners coming to the South West. I worked in London for 20 years before moving down, but 10 years ago houses were about half the price of an average London home. Now they are equal. The financial benefit of moving here in retirement has disappeared.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 12:01PM Report Comment

17. crunchy said...

12. shining wit said "What about increased road traffic (twice the homes, twice the traffic maybe?), increased demand for schools, supermarkets, medical centres, fire stations, transpot links, in fact all the infrastructure that comes with increased population?"

That's what I want to know. ?????

Maybe the answer is just a crap country but I would like to think otherwise. I can't as yet!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 12:23PM Report Comment

18. mark wadsworth said...

@ Shining - none of what you say makes sense.

"What about increased road traffic (twice the homes, twice the traffic maybe?)"

Same number of people in same number of houses? Why is that more traffic? And if people migrate there, then there'd be less traffic somewhere else.

"increased demand for schools, supermarkets, medical centres, fire stations, transpot links, in fact all the infrastructure that comes with increased population?"

Yeah, if there are more people, there'll be more people willing to work in schools, supermarkets etc (most of which are low-ish paid, so its the teachers and checkout girls and nurses who are hardest hit by high prices. And what's wrong with more infrastructure? One of the best things a govt can spend money on is transport infrastructure esp. railways in more densely populated areas.

"Build twice as many houses there and you'll allow even more people to have second homes"

So what? When have I ever slagged off second homers? Provided they pay the LVT and/or stop being NIMBYs I have no problem with them.

"(LVT wont touch the rich)."

What does "rich" have to do with it? LVT is about reducing income tax (which will benefit high income people) and increasing taxes on land ownership (to compensate society for the external costs thereof), with all the benefits that brings. Quite conceivable that a premier league footballer is hugely better off if we had flat income tax on his £10 million salary and flat 1% property tax on his £1 million mansion, so what? Those are the rules.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 12:29PM Report Comment

19. phdinbubbles said...

Don't the relatively high prices in Exeter partly reflect the arrival of several hundred weatherpeople with their Berkshire equity in 2003?

According to mouseprice (if it is to believed) the price/earnings ratio in exeter is 8.34x average local salary as compared to 7.99x across the UK, so not that much difference?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 12:51PM Report Comment

20. shining wit said...

mark wadsworth....@ 16.

"Same number of people in same number of houses? Why is that more traffic? And if people migrate there, then there'd be less traffic somewhere else." - Have you tried getting anywhere in the south east, midlands most of the time? It's hideous. I went to the East Midlands airport at 4.30am the other week and the M1 was nose to tail, travelling at about 35mph between nottingham and the airport! So if you build loads of houses in somerset/devon/cornwall the traffic in London will stay the same because the properties will fill up with people. The M25 reached it's expected capacity within 4 months of opening. It's niave to think that the same wouldn't happen if you doubled the homes in the SW. In fact I expect that people would start selling up and leaving if the place got even more congested.

I agree that LVT would have many benefits. I lived in wales for many years (snowdonia) and the amount of second homes increased exponentially between the 1970s and the millinium. In some respects the snowdonia national park is less populated that it was a century before. I personally agree that LVT may possibly help an increasingly overpopulated country but...........taxation in most countries has alwasy been based (in modern times) upon income. We have all seen many stories of people having to sell their mansions etc because of death duties and the unavailabilty of income to pay these. LVT would almost certainly be seen as an extremely socialist/marxist principle because it would enormously decrease the viability of leaving any property for ones descendents etc. An whilst this may not be undesirable in it's immediate conception it may decrease the availability of property in the future as its inherent worth will be based on it's taxable value rather than it's use as a home, thus doing as much damage as it being purely seen as an investment which the current system sustains.

I have owned properties and rented them (currently renting) and am appalled at they way this country treats it's citizens. The ability to own/rent reasonable property (to live in) is a fundemental human right. My views are extreme, I know, because if I ruled the world second homes would be virtually banned (as would many other things I disagree with). Fortunatley for planet earth I am but a minion and as such my views are only that.

We will all have to realise that our ever increasing poplulations are putting an incredible strain on our enviroments and property is a prime example. I would (personally) love to earn £42k a year (see my previous post) and would easily be able to live and work in this country if I regularly earned that amount but I am seriously considering moving to another part of Europe. The property industry here has it's head up it's botty. There are too many people and not enough room (unless we increase massively the property market). I suspect that there are (very, very conservatively) at least 5 million people who are not entitled to be here and the number is almost certainly growing by the day.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not zenophobic, it's purely a numbers game, I don't want to live in a community that can only work with exponential growth. We not only need and effective taxation system that penalises the rich but a system that penalises the work shy and feckless.

When I was a child London ending outside the north circular, no it touches the M25. The need for radical change is apparent, especially with this last, disasterous House Price Bubble, but this country hasn't the stomach for a real fight, just as long as they can get their clickity-click flooring and all the muck stops at the front door mat. They can watch their 42" plasma's and dream about being Cheryl Cole or some other numpty off the TV, whilst drinking cola and filling themsleves with take-away pizza and eating at eat-all-you-can pig swill pubs.

Too many people, not enough room...... sounds like 3/4 of urban UK. The rich will never, ever let LVT be introduced. The last real chance for this place came in 1997 when Blair and co got in, but all they were was self-effacing, pocket-lining, war mongering, mini tories, who ramped the property system and City of London for their own ends, they loved immigration because poor people will vote for them and they think that simply throwing public money at things makes things better.

Divide and rule. Britain invented it, used it to make the worlds largest (possibly ever) empire, and now have turned it into a PHD.

Thank gawd for Ted Heath and the other free thinking tories....I'm off to France again in the next 2 weeks for more property hunting in a country where 100k will still but you a place to live in. (admittedly I'll probably get squished on their mad roads) and a little more will buy you a nice place to live in. You can keep you 400k titchy cottages in devon and cornwall for the likes of Kursty and the other insipid users.

Douglas Adams was write, put them all in a ship and send them somewhere.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 01:13PM Report Comment

21. mark wadsworth said...

@ Shining "In fact I expect that people would start selling up and leaving if the place got even more congested." Fine, that's the free market solution - over time the population will spread itself around, making infinite trade-offs between countryside, views, proximity to work, congestion etc.

"the unavailabilty of income to pay these. LVT would almost certainly be seen as an extremely socialist/marxist principle because it would enormously decrease the viability of leaving any property for ones descendents"

Nonsense. Pensioners can defer, and heirs can pay the rolled up tax out of their own higher incomes (instead of Inheritance Tax, which would be scrapped as well) assuming income tax cut accordingly). What's this obsession with "property" as in "land and property"? Surely income tax means that you have less cash (which is also "property") to leave to your children? Why is it OK to take cash off people (and reduce the amount of cash their children can inherit, which always comes in handy) and not take part of their "land and property" wealth off them (and the children don't need that home as they have managed without it while the parent(s) were still alive?

The most important difference is that cash that you leave the children is usually out of net income (so it is spiteful to tax it again via Inheritance Tax) but most people who leave property will be sitting on a colossale latent and hitherto capital gain.

Economics is not a one-sided equation - you have to look at the benefits as well as costs and compare one asset class with another.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 01:27PM Report Comment

22. powerofnow said...

Access to shelter is a moral issue, unfortunately the privileged interests of the big land owners have decided that the illusion of wealth creation via manipulation of the land market is more important than the needs of the wider community. LVT is a big part of the solution, but so is returning some of the land stolen via the Acts of Enclosure to the people for emergency housing. (60 Million live on 10% of the land, so no wonder it feels cramped).

I too share the dread that the beauty of Cornwall or other green belt land will be lost to the greed of developers, we know that they really want to get their hands on the best bits. Alternatively why not allow small scale development of low impact kit houses on hundreds of small plots for fair rent on unproductive land. A house could be paid for like any other commodity by a loan 20K - 50K for the kit, land plots could be leased for a period of 20 - 30 years. The land could then go back to commons or farm land if no longer required.

What about services I hear you ask; why not introduce truly sustainable micro power generation and rain collection and use composting toilets... Affordable housing and low carbon footprints, What's not to love? I'm sure you'll tell me...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 02:53PM Report Comment

23. River Man said...


I agree with you about supply constraints, but not about traffic issues. It's important how we build and where we build. If we just let homes be built anywhere without any infrastructure or thought about where they will work, shop, go to school et cetera we will have terrible traffic issues. If instead we think about planning well-designed new communities with public transport in close proximity to jobs, it may actually help the quality of life.

There is a reason why congestion is worse in Los Angeles than Paris or New York, you know.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 04:15PM Report Comment

24. Smithdebs said...

This is happening worldwide, not just in England. People need to relocate, move around or change careers if they need to. The chances that prices will drop 30% or more nationwide would wipe us out globally and we might as well be Spain in the 1960s. This change will not happen so quickly and we will probably be part of the EU by then and finaciallly. A 30 % drop would mean my house would cost £120000, for a 45 min commute to London. I dont think so...........

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 05:07PM Report Comment

25. shining wit said...

I agree powerfornow....what's not to love....

Unfortunately it won't make much money for the tax man or devil-opers

What we need are low impact ways of making life accessible in places. Too many people own too much. People appear to need a 50k income to live lifestyles that are fairly worthless. We need to build low impact houses, and have low impact lifestyles, I agree that low impact, small scale development is the answer, but politicians want power and they cant get it that way. They need sheep and developers, business men and backhanders. We need to make our economies work for us, but no, we are all slaves to this developing orwellian nightmare (permenant wars, fear of "foreigners", criminal checks for everyone, need I go on!)

We need a fundemental shift into making our lives/homes/economies sustainable. But if even the labour party cannot do anything to radicalise public transport etc. in 11 years (and we have no PR to allow left/right wing thinking enter the political environment) then we are all knackered. For 18 years I heard their rhetoric and all we seem to be is getting fatter, more stupid and more lazy!

I've just read all 64 pages of comments on the times article referring to the Lord Stern report that says a vegetarian diet impacts less on global warming and the vitriol and completely asinine comments make me glad to be a humen being. Suggesting people eat less meat or expecting anything radical to happen regarding property in the UK is almost like saying we should assasinate the windsors! (sorry, sax-cobergs, silly me). I even had one person say to me recently that they thought that house prices will double in the next 5 years! Mark Wadsworth is right in wishing for a fundemental shift but, IMO, we are more likely to have a load of old, privately educated, siler spooned toffs in charge than anyone with a modicum of modernity or forward thinking.

It's obvious to almost anyone with a brain that there is a housing crisis in this country. Something needs to be done, but let's face it nothing is going to be done. We are facing a tory government who about as likely to bring in LVT as they are to promote vegetarianism! The steady rise of immigration and the inability of the about 1/5 of the population to get off there botty's and do any work is completely killing the ability to solve our problems.

Rich people can afford to have more than 1 house and poor people are back up Brown's Creek ! Sticking around for the long awaited house price crash is starting to be a pointless exersice. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are starting to make Ted Heath and Maggie look like revolutionaries...

Read my lips people "the politicians just don't give a ****, it's every person (nearly said man there, don't want to upset anyone) for themselves".

I hate the idea of ID cards but let's face it, they're going to happen sooner or later. The world has to face up to economic migration and has to face the facts that change is going to come. Just doing what we've been doing for the last 100 years is exactly how we got into this situation.

Now where did I put that pipe and slippers......

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 05:16PM Report Comment

26. powerofnow said...

@ shining wit: we are all slaves to this developing orwellian nightmare (permenant wars, fear of "foreigners", criminal checks for everyone, need I go on!)

I'm starting to think that watching the SOMA of Strictly come dancing and X-Factor and ultimately loving big brother is the only option left to me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 05:32PM Report Comment

27. shining wit said...


Don't do it powerofnow, you appear (like many who post here) to have a reasonable grip on reality and more sense than almost anyone in the (so called) palace of westminster.

Love small things and green things (no not Cameron) and watch the joy of birdies and wee beasties.... have a spring in your step, and remember (2-3-4)....

"always look at the bright side of life...

musn't gwumble......

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 05:55PM Report Comment

28. drewster said...

9. tyrellcorporation said...

I agree that second-home owners are a problem in some areas, definitely. As MarkW keeps pointing out, it's nothing that a little LVT wouldn't fix.

There's a similar problem - many pretty rural villages have become retirement villages. If you're not earning, you're not spending much. A village full of pensioners buying basic foods once a week in the village shop simply isn't enough to support the local economy.

Nevertheless these people often live in large houses and have difficulty paying the heating bills. LVT might mean some of them have to move out (unless they roll up their tax bill to be paid out of their estate), but it would also reinvigorate the local economy. Quid pro quo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 06:37PM Report Comment

29. Smithdebs said...

Young people need to save a deposit, relocate or change careers!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 07:48PM Report Comment

30. braindeed said...

Our little country IS crap, Edvard.
Someone stanped on the moral compas......or bashed it with a handbag.
It's structural and built into our psyche - island monkeys the Teutons call us


Tuesday, October 27, 2009 09:54PM Report Comment

31. crunchy said...

psyched out, bought out, priced out, sold out, jobbed out, flagged out, maxed out, spaced out.

Our little old country, their big new world.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 01:10AM Report Comment

32. crunchy said...

I was once given a half crown for helping a pensioner cross the road when I was about 8 years of age. That coin filled the palm of my hand.

Farewell to our little old country!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 01:23AM Report Comment

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