May to Unveil Plans to Build More Council Houses

Broadly speaking post war Britain has been the bastion of home ownership and our expectation and focus of home ownership has driven the Englishman’s home is his castle ethos and of course separated us from most of our European neighbours where renting is the norm. To see the BBC News headline today about the Conservative Party’s intention to build more council homes is most interesting in many ways.

It is a most interesting change of direction and surely a clear acknowledgement that the housing market has changed, people’s expectations have changed and maybe (cynically) that many are driven by ‘flashy’ possessions rather than a focus on home ownership.

We have commented on the shift in the property market many times before so I will try and not repeat myself but she change in direction is more than evident. The days of renting being perceived to be the ‘poor’ end of the market is simply no longer true with all walks of life renting due to a number of reasons and many will rent for life as the home ownership obsession changes in line with house prices, deposit requirements, financial commitment, other desirability items and much more. It may seems strange thing to say but consider that most families and couples now holiday abroad regularly and drive newer more expensive cars. Personal car leasing popularity has exploded for example. These things alone were not common practice some years ago but they are now. There are many reasons why people rent but social expectations do take a driving influence.

For the Conservative government to push ahead with more council houses might seem a strange direction for the Conservative Party but surely it will appeal to voters, reflects the true change in the property market and may even have a marginal leveling effect on rising rents.


Celebrate Yorkshire, Promoting Huddersfield – A Premier Town

I’m not a regular breakfast business meeting attendee nor am I a serial networking type but when an event is on your doorstep and someone offers me a free bacon sandwich I’m there!

Far too much business is done merely for business sake and without thought to promote and support your other local businesses where ever you are from. In Bastion’s case we have the pleasure and honour of being a Yorkshire based company and what a county it is. We have so much to shout about and it’s not just about football.

On top of this of course is our commercial partnership with Huddersfield Town Football Club and being part of the Huddersfield Hundred. The ‘Hundred’ are all businesses allied and supporting the Club and therefore we should support each other. We are small, medium and large businesses, some regional and some international. The scope is superb.

Please take five minutes to watch this HTTV clip Worryingly I feature a few times but that aside it is the message that is being delivered across the board that is so important.

Bank of England: Rate Rises will be Gradual & Limited


Mark Carney’s comments won’t come as a surprise to most people and certainly we did forecast a marginal interest rate in previous blogs for later in 2017. Whilst we are not correct yet, it is looking likely. This kind of comment is relatively indifferent but still interesting to note and also worthy of mention is the rise in the pound as a result of his comments. 

A section of the article from BBC News is below:

Any increases in UK interest rates in the coming months will be “gradual” and “limited”, Mark Carney has said.

The Bank of England governor said that “some withdrawal of monetary stimulus is likely to be appropriate over the coming months” to help return inflation to its 2% target.

Inflation hit 2.9% in August as the effects of the slump in sterling following the Brexit vote continued.

It is likely to stay above 2% for the next three years, Mr Carney said.

The governor made the comments in a speech to the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC on Monday.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee last week gave a strong hint that the UK’s first-rate rise in a decade was nearing, despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

Until last week, most economists had expected the Bank to wait until later next year or even 2019 before raising rates.


Property Doom? Correction or Crash or Neither?

Two weeks ago a friend and colleague who is an experienced property professional was expressing his concern about the stability of the property market and how a ‘crash’ was coming. The gentleman in question reads endless articles and forecasts. I was fairly damning of his negative view point and told him that reading press articles to that degree was dangerous, depressing and utterly unrealistic. We strive to be informed but information overload is daft in itself. Articles are people’s opinions, the press like dramatic headlines when most articles have little substance, opinions vary and are not always written by those who should be commenting on the property market. I firmly told the friend in question that there was no justification for his concerns, it is not what the market is suggesting, demand will not alter and simply continue to grow and that construction is still ultimately the backbone of the UK economy. I said that I felt that the midlands and northern market would simply continue to be relatively flat with some growth.

Interestingly I then discussed this with a regional house-builder who agreed with my opinion.

The ongoing coincidence was that I attended an Evening with Entrepreneurs event yesterday evening at PPG Canalside and one of the speakers was the the MD of a large PLC construction company. He was asked whether he could see a crash or correction in the property market and whilst his answer was lengthy in summary he felt that the property market would potentially correct itself but basically continue to be relatively flat. There was more comment and more detail but that was his opinion.

I am not suggesting I’m an industry expert but merely an informed property professional who has been involved in the property, market for over twenty years and it is interesting that a successful regional developer, an MD from a national PLC and of course me agree where the market is and where it is likely to go.

A stable but gradually increasing market is where we are and what is almost certainly going to continue in my opinion. This hugely supports the buy to let property market and its basic principles of buying in the right area, where rental demand is strong, the right sort of property and of course with a discount. Nothing will change the ongoing rental demand and the need for housing.

As ever your thought are welcome.

Queens Speech 2017: Lettings Fees to Be Banned

Today’s Queens Speech has announced what we all knew was coming and it’s no surprise. It’s a good headline grabbing announcement that will feed the media’s occasional crusade against the private landlord but of course it’s little more than and a headline and will have little change to the letting market and merely mean that letting agents will have to become not just more realistic but less greedy and to work smarter.

For reference and out of interest I commented on this last on the 28th November 2016 and the Bastion Estates Comment from then is below.

BASTION ESTATES COMMENT (from Nov 2016): This is my twentieth year in property and ten of those were in estate agency at branch level to operations director level so my knowledge of the lettings market is relatively well informed though I admit it has never been my area of specialism. However, the fees some letting agents charge tenants for a large variety of services is close to disgraceful. Yes any business has to quantify a member of staffs time in dealing with the paperwork and referencing but the true actual cost beyond the man hours is very minimal. It is a highly profitable section of the property market and one many have taken advantage of. I am still amazed as I always have been by the ludicrous charges and the ‘any excuse to charge more’ type attitude. There had to be point where someone took action and here it is! How it will actually happen and when and what effect it will have on some letting agents we will have to wait and see, but if it removes some letting agents from the market and makes the other letting agents more competitive and realistic, I welcome the changes.

TODAY’S BASTION RESPONSE: I’m not sure my opinion has changed much in all fairness. Things will change and many costs will have to be passed onto the landlord but ultimately this in most cases will merely show in an increase in rent. If this is the case has the government actually done anything truly positive apart from spin a headline? Probably not! The tenant will end up paying but in a different way.

Hung Parliament – what is the impact on Buy to Let property?

Since the election result I’ve read a number of articles from various people who work in the property industry. Some are informed and experienced, others are alleged ‘experts’ and some seem keep to try and drag their ‘informed’ comment out into various video clips that you can purchase. Forgive my flippancy but if you actually buy one of these you have just made a poor investment and should never buy anything again!

Ask yourself what has genuinely changed?
Answer: Very little.
What impact will the hung parliament have on buy to let?
Answer: Nothing.
Has the government’s commitment to the housing market changed?
Answer: No.
Can this government, hung or not afford to damage or dilute the need for new homes?
Answer: No.
Will the private buy to let landlord be still vilified in the press?
Answer: Yes
Is the private buy to let landlord still vital to each governments need for rental property?
Answer: Yes
Will rental demand continue to increase in the long term?
Answer: Yes
Are interest rate likely to increase as a result of the hung parliament?
Answer: No not because of the election results but we may see a marginal increase in the coming year.

For an honest informed comment without the headline grabbing nonsense feel free to contact us.

Straight Talking – Forward Thinking

Premier League!

For those that don’t know Bastion Estates is a commercial partner of Huddersfield Town Football Club and have been for three years. Prior to this we’ve done some occasional sponsorship over the years but we formalised our relationship in 2014. The decision back then was made for business reasons and personal reasons, as I’m a Town fan and have been all my life.

In my thirty eight years of watching the Terriers a lot has been mediocre, average, desperately mainstream but with some occasional memorable success. You can’t accuse a Town fan of being a glory hunter that’s for sure, or am I now wrong? Huddersfield Town are now officially in the Premiership! It still seems odd to use the words Huddersfield and Premiership in one sentence but WOW…what can I say. Life is certainly going to be different. 

I’m not directly comparing Bastion to Huddersfield Town Football Club but there are some similarities. Bastion have kept a level head and maintained steady progress through persistence, reputation, delivery and not spent money to impress or recruit unnecessarily or to over expand. Others have and failed and regretting their choices. Our more considered approach means we have succeeding and are succeeding when others are failing. I’m not suggesting we are always right but the results speak for themselves!

Another Crazy Property Week

I don’t comment on specific business sales or achievements often but after a crazy couple of weeks I thought it was worthy of comment. Not because we have agreed sales on vast quantities or sold glamorous city centre apartment blocks or even multi million pound London schemes but because we have continued to increase our stable established and growing reputation for delivering what we set out to do.

Whilst other so called investment companies are struggling to secure appealing buy to let opportunities for their clients or simply touting around the same large saturated schemes that the masses are marketing, Bastion quietly does the job in hand.

In the last eight working days we have secured sales on a block of 7 apartments in Halifax, 4 new build houses in Doncaster, 2 new build houses in Bradford, a block of 7 apartments in Blackburn, a block of 12 apartments in Mansfield, 2 apartments in Wakefield, 3 apartments just outside Newcastle and 4 houses in suburb of Liverpool. That’s eight different vendor developers, six of which are new clients and all six have been direct referrals from existing clients or associated professional partners. That’s a great stat for any business and one we are proud of.

What’s the secret? I don’t truly know but an honest direct and informed approach has always paid dividends and not over promising and under delivering. Do what you set out to do!

‘Dominance’ of Big Home Builders

An article earlier this week on BBC News was headlined MPs say ‘dominance’ of big home-building firms must end. It’s interesting reading but misses a key point – refer to the bottom for our comment.

MPs have called for an end to the dominance of big home-building firms to fix the “broken” housing market.

The communities and local government committee said the eight biggest firms built more than half of all new homes.

MPs said the government should do more for smaller builders who do not have the scale to bid for big projects, but the Home Builders Federation, which represents large and small businesses, said only big firms could spread the risks large-scale projects pose.

The committee also said local authorities should prepare land for home building. That would include providing the infrastructure needed, such as roads and public transport.

“The housing market is broken, we are simply not building enough homes,” said Clive Betts MP, chair of the committee.

“Smaller builders are in decline and the sector is over-reliant on an alarmingly small number of high-volume developers, driven by commercial self-interest and with little incentive to build any quicker. “If we are to build the homes that the country so desperately needs, for sale and for rent, then this dominance must end.”

The committee found that smaller builders struggled to obtained land for development, as local authorities focused on large sites which only big companies could afford to take on.

The Homebuilders Federation said: “We fully support the committee’s call for measures to assist smaller builders, encourage new entrants and scale up specialist housing sectors, such as the retirement housing market.

“The vast majority of the big increases in housing supply in recent years have come from the larger, mainstream builders – but we need more builders of all sizes and specialisms if we are to tackle our acute housing shortage.”

In February the government promised to build more affordable houses and help people buy and rent, after admitting the current market was broken.

The housing strategy for England included giving councils powers to pressure developers into starting building on land they own.

BASTION ESTATES COMMENT: I’m not necessarily disagreeing with any of this article but what is increasingly alienating the independent house builder is the acute limitations of available funding. Generally speaking the mainstream high street lenders talk a good show but the end criteria for the independent house-builder makes it difficult, financially restrictive or it’s simply impossible. Let’s be blunt by saying that many high street lenders talk about lending but ultimately don’t want to, so what does the independent do? The answer is they can’t build! This is not the direct fault of the PLC house-builders but the financial market. Far too many banks won’t support the independent and I can only assume it is because of the perceived risk.

Often the independent is turning to ‘specialist’ bridging finance companies to secure the funding and this is sometimes a risky business. This is worthy of a separate BLOG post at a later time, but if you’re interested in our comment and experience of this feel free to contact me through the office.

Sociable Business Golf

Bastion fielded two teams in a Huddersfield Town Football Club golf day yesterday. Guests came from Noble Homes, Eastwood Homes, Jewsons, Paragon Oak, The Alternative Board, Big Property Sale, Discrete Land and of course Bastion Estates.

None of us are particularly good golfers, though some were better than others (Richard from Big Property Sale) but it was  an enjoyable day. All except one was a property related professional but business chat didn’t dominate the day but certainly featured. Family life, other sports and general humour did feature heavily as well as trying to find golf balls in the rough.

No business was done on the day but none was tried to be done either. Spending time with colleagues and friends is far more important in my opinion and this kind of time builds longer term business relationships.

Most of us continued through the evening and numbers began to dwindle leaving a hardcore of Paul from Paragon Oak, Kevin from Discrete Land, Gavin from Jewsons and me. There were a number of reported hangovers the day after, which means it was a good day’s golf!

Big thanks to Katie at HTAFC and Huddersfield Golf Club for the day and I would like to mention the exceptional pork pies from Haighs Farm Shop in Mirfield that were on offer at the halfway house.