The Year Past and the Year Ahead
Looking back over 2017 I find that in January I reported landlords describing 2016 as an ‘annus horribilis’ due to the swathe of new legislation affecting us that year. Now, at the end of 2017 I can report that we faced around fifty new pieces of legislation in the rental sector. Let us hope 2018 brings sensible legislation rather than some of the populist moves we have seen from politicians in 2017.
The feel-good factor of the year has to be our classification ‘highly rated’ in the Best Estate Agent Guide 2018. This was a real team effort since it was judged by ‘blind shoppers’ phoning or calling in, then rating the performance of staffs.
Our ProShare Plus program where we introduce young professionals to others allowing them to jointly rent a larger property continues to go from strength to strength with some tenants now enjoying their fifth year as housemates. Our block management division took us a long time to setup but 2017 saw the division really come into its own as we continued to receive impressive new instructions.
At the core of our business and indeed our name, is Heaton and the neighborhood continues to thrive with new small businesses opening on a monthly basis. These young, vibrant businesses are supported by the young professionals occupying many of our large residential properties meaning Heaton is rapidly shedding its outdated student accommodation tag.
So, I think it fair to say 2017 was a ‘glass half full’ year for Heaton and Heaton Property, but what of the year to come? Not being Mystic Damiano I can only predict what I hope may happen based upon current trends.
It looks likely we shall see the end of leasehold house sales which I highlighted in March this year. I would hope Government would look at outdated leasehold laws across the board. We recently came across a family unable to sell their leasehold property because there was only 65 year left on their lease and nobody would offer a mortgage, so this poor family are stuck with a half million pound house they cannot sell for the next 65 years. This cannot be right or fair.
I would hope for further help for first time buyers as the current Help to Buy scheme is wide open to abuse. The answer lies in holding developers to their commitment to include affordable homes in development schemes. All too often this year we have seen the affordable homes dropped from a development at the last minute. And squeezing out buy-to-let landlords is not the answer. We need a vibrant rental sector today and into the foreseeable future.
So, as I prepare for the annual Christmas pilgrimage to my parents home, Arpino in the Lazio region of Italy I can look back on 2017 with quiet satisfaction as our business has consolidated and been recognised by an award, and as our home turf of Heaton continues to thrive. And as I look forward to 2018? I will leave the final word on that to American management consultant Peter Drucker who said “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”