Happy Harvest… again.
“So what is happening at the moment” with our beloved housing market in the UK and its effect on our equally beloved rental sector (PRS and SRS). This is a question i have been asked a lot recently from South Africa to Monaco to Dubai to Sheffield…Are our investments safe? What will Brexit do to this? How is the political risk here in the UK affecting this? These threads are the most common questions recently and not just from prospective investors but some partners too.
I am going to attempt to tackle some of these from our perspective briefly and as far was we are concerned. And based mainly on our experience – which is considerably more valuable we feel opposed to just simply “our opinion!” But there will have to be a little bit of that too, for what its worth.
The Brexit question…?
We believe that it will blow over pretty quickly in the housing market (post, literally any kind of deal) and ultimately that house prices on national average will be slightly down for 12 months or so and then will pick up and continue to rise again – fairly sharply in certain places (No we are not saying where we believe these to be!). The hype and hoopla surrounding #Brexit reminds me a bit like the Y2K millennium bug (remember that?) New years eve 1999… Computers would crash, wrecking life as we knew it, planes would fall out of the sky…etc etc, even books were written and countless trees felled to cover the broad and tabloid media headlines mainly reporting “the coming chaos!”.
What happened – basically nothing. Like that potential “chaos” it will be managed and ultimately nothing will change – business as usual generally and especially in the housing and rental sector.
Come this time next year we believe national house prices broadly speaking will be around 5% down across the board. We believe this is mainly due – to the same reason that some potential investors are struggling to reconcile our good deal in front of them and the decision / action to actually put some hard earned money in right now – and that is many people are simply unsure and just put off anything for now because of perceived uncertainty – thats human nature right? As opposed to an actual problem with the market / products themselves. Therefore less decisions are being made of this type, less houses therefore are being bought/invested in, and therefore those who have to sell will except less. This in turn will be reflected in figures made available next year for this year…Still following me…Good.
Private landlords being pushed out…?
Yes indeed they are, the institutionalisation of the PRS and Social side of rental tenure as we like to call it. Most people have woken up to the brutal fundamental facts that there are too many people (and more on the way) and not enough housing, as well as basics like simple economics = supply low demand high and “voila” big house price value growth.. Or the perceived rising cost of buying a house.
So we like to track a thing called the “invisible house price index” where you take the average customer, buying the average house at the average cost (mortgage rate). IE as OSG likes to call it “MRP”, majority representative properties. So repayments have been flat for several years now so the reality is it hasn’t cost the average / majority anymore to buy a house than in the last several years regardless of the overall price going up or not. After ten years of cheap money we are moving in to the end of that cycle and already the cost to the “wholesale cost of funds” for lenders has gone up. Therefore the costs for the end user will begin to go up too.
The social engineering project exercise of the last five years or so is moving this kind of residential housing PRS and social side to institutions because A) there is a lot of money to be made, relatively safely and B) it can be regulated, standardised and made safer – for the end user – all round by doing so. SDLT increases, overseas buying restrictions, ATED, the end of tax relief on borrowing, tighter EPC’s and so on is all part of this exercise and will help us move back to that pre 50”s cycle of major majority rental market! More people will rent and as per most professional, well researched and common sense analysis the rental market will be 50 – 60% of the total housing tenure by 2025, over 2 million additional rental properties will be needed by 2025 and build to rent will be come mainstream, if it isn’t already.
Virtual landlord or a passive fund..?
Good question. Naturally I am inclined to “pump up” my own fund as different, nimble, outrageously fair and most importantly returning way above average funds (most of them) and certainly than all P2P type deals around. Most P2P platforms are performing at around 3% NET and are untested structures in comparison to the close ended fund structure that is proven and in our case at least is returning just under double the P2P average. Headline Fund averages are around 4% NET with higher costs and considerably more bureaucracy than a smaller more adaptable fund that is more specialised in certain areas and doesn’t invest in any new build (where you pay a 20% premium straight off the bat).
So its Autumn and the rain and the leaves are falling…. So it seems are property prices, investors and private landlords yields and like the shorter days now upon us, the window of opportunity for private investors to grab an opportunity in this sector shortens… The only things that are becoming better and better are the return for our limited partners on investment, the UK’s economic figures and the England full international football teams performances. (2-3 away against Spain of all people!! Wow)
Happy Harvest – The yields are getting healthier and healthier.
Oxford Spires Group
Stick, twist or just trade places…?
As this amazing summer weather we’ve had draws to a close and the children are due back to school (Yes!! Do not tell anyone i said that) People we are speaking to tend to get a bit more serious again, Its almost like it’s new year and resolutions are being made once more. The traffic of opportunities – as well as the actual traffic on the roads – will rise again. We believe and we hope the investment will too, there are a lot of good deals becoming available.
We have spoke to a number of new investors recently and I have to say there is I feel way too much caution out there, we have a lot of procrastinators – maybe they’re perfectionists? Who want to sit, wait and hold and almost seem desperate for world war three to start so they can say “I told you so”… I have shared with our team and with potential investors and partners that if people are investing in space – yes outer space! Then surely we can attract more investment this year to continue to reach the objectives of our partners and provide more great accommodation to our end users! Looking at investors in Space recently as i did. it reads like a who’s who of modern day Tycoons, but the numbers and the likely outcomes are appalling bad.
Our numbers however are admirable and our very likely outcomes are in fact excellent in comparison. So if any tycoons out there want to stick 1% (£2M) of what has been allocated to the intangible, poor yielding, not exactly easy to visit & check on Space investment. And instead work with us on the tangible, bordering the obvious or even come visit and see, why not even touch your investment, then sign up before leaving the website!
There you go thats my shameless bit of pumping!
Oh no here is a little more…
The latest £1.95M invested in the fund is producing 145K in annual yield for our partners and has been independently RICS valued at 2.5M – whats not to like?
So lets look at what else is going on with part of our DNA…
Rents… RICS Royal institute of chartered surveyors suggest and believe that Rent will rise for at least the next five years year on year across the board see here Rent rises
London bashing again…
London house prices that are over £1M (which is a big chunk of them) are being sold at a massive discount often 20% or more is being slashed, some sellers (wholesale) are doing buy one get one free? It’s insane and lots of people are getting burnt, additionally we believe the same thing will happen with new build over priced apartments nationwide – with none of the major features that families like or need – over the next few years as the ratio of family houses reaches an all time low.
Estate agents X, Watch out for a common but not often talked about clause re: commissions for estate agents when selling… “the introductory clause” is being slipped in increasingly and causing some problems as our old friends the estate agents get increasingly desperate to find ways of recouping all that un justified revenue of years gone by. When you switch agents because they can’t sell your asset/s you realise you’ve already agreed to pay them no matter who sells it – Please check and see here
Another movie reference
Lastly a fave movie of all time of mine is “Trading Places” with Eddie Murphy (prior to being done for tax fraud) and Dan Ackroyd. Its like a guilty pleasure… But while trying to explain to my kids – and covering their eyes on the rude bits – it actually teaches us a lot about equity / commodity market efficiencies. The key moment being when the brothers bail Valentine (Murphy) out of jail and explain how they operate their business to which Valentine replies ” Sounds to me like you guys are a couple of bookies” nailed it, didn’t he! There is also a lesson for the investors in this kind of asset class and market. Lets face it when I lose money on the markets i say things like its just a form of gambling… When actually that is the truth all “odds” are a pretty accurate reflection of probability otherwise “bookies” would go bust right? However irrational behaviour comes from us mere mortals and thats where the opportunities are. The movie concept also has some links to a real life look at Paul Tudor
Richard Dennis selected him from basically nothing and look what happened! Morale of the story don’t put your portfolio heavily in to stuff like that… Or in Space.
Come and see us instead.
Oxford Spires Group
Heating up… and staying there!
It has been some time since I have felt I had the time for any “luxuries” such as writing like this for our site and for the “few people” who sometimes mail in there thanks – or not – for our thoughts on this subject. Anything other than core functions for our business, investors and end users has been put aside this last three months and a big factor in this is the birth of my first son Harrison. What a joy it is and what a reminder of how difficult it sometimes is too in the balancing act of work, play and most importantly family.
The investors in the fund – as i have done privately – I would like to re thank you – publicly as such – for your patience and also for your best wishes – beautiful, grateful.
So what is it that is currently doing the rounds in our favourite subject here in the UK and what do we think about its relevance and impact on our business…
Well the property market in general has slowed down significantly both in the eyes of the media and in our personal experience, house prices are – give or take minor fluctuations – broadly static in the majority of our chosen Postcode districts (Pd’s) and are in fact down between 3 and 5% in many other cities around the UK – more so in London. The decision to not buy in London at all and the parameters on our research model which helped in this decision have proved incredibly true the last 3 years or so.
More properties are coming to market (Up 8% or so) from this time last year which means that agents are well stocked but most importantly the capacity for negotiation is very good and this is proving to be a good time to buy at a discount…
The fundamentals that are the foundations of our dysfunctional market here are consolidating further, there is still not even close to the amount of housing needed for the growing population both migrant and indigenous, the economy is doing well, very well in fact by anyones yardstick! The labour market is contracting for housing development and the prices are going up for this labour, meaning that less and less dwellings are being built
and the ones that are being built are often in locations that people are considerably less interested in living – even on a micro level! This is developing further the property price levels, in the right places.
The Private rental sector (PRS) is continuing its growth and as we suggested some time ago we are slowly but surely moving back to that pre 1950’s level of 50 – 60% private rental market. The proportion of renters that are in the 35 to 54 year old
bracket has nearly doubled in ten years and is still growing. But this trend is continuing to grow across all age demographics and there is no solution in sight to disrupt this pattern in the next five to ten years.
Lastly is the political consultation taking place currently that is already in place in much of western Europe – that is longer term contracts for tenants, there is talk of this being made law although we doubt very much this will happen here anytime soon. The average time for anything housing to get through parliament and then the lords (which has many property owners) is years rather than months and there are very good arguments on both sides of this debate that will play themselves out during this period, we don’t expect any major disruption to the parameters currently in place for the PRS now or the near future and the safeguards we have installed in our model and structure allow for even some considerable changes to this market place.
Its business as usual and with continued care of our end users we maintain our 95% occupancy rates through our friends YORA and our above average returns!
May this glorious summer continue!
Oxford Spires Group
Chicken or Egg… Does it matter?
My mind has been turned slightly toward easter and a planned getaway to the Lake District with the family soon and I am writing this slightly later than I normally do in part as so much is happening right now in our beloved sector and related areas that I am not sure where exactly to start…
On the 13th March we had the Spring statement from Mr Hammond which seems to carry more importance than ever this year with the transitionary period we are now in the midst of… Erm I mean simply Brexit! We have learned that buying a property – from a tax perspective – in England, Scotland or Wales is no different now, the only difference is the name of the tax levied SDLT (England), LBTT (Scotland) and what will be called LTT (Wales). The tax system as a whole in all three are still penalising private landlords in respect of property but still leave room for manoeuvre for a corporate style set up which we naturally applaud. However there is still a slow and burning movement towards even more punitive style taxes for private investors in the residential property market that are… Well not British which we see as incredibly prejudice but at the same time doesn’t affect investment from foreign nationals through funds such as ours.
On that subject there has been a slew of negative stories involving foreign investment in to the UK property market, which we have been warning about for some time as – mainly foreign – Investors are sold massively prestige developments prior to being built with big promises on how well they will do out of it and then finding out that actually that is… Well incorrect. We would go further – and have done on social media – by saying this entire model is incredibly risky and when looked at without the tinted glasses of “prestige investing” simply doesn’t make sense and doesn’t factor in enough risk management or any options on exit strategy, this was one of many recently.
The evidence is stacking up that our dysfunctional housing market is not simply a case of house builders sat on land but that labor, planning and lack of resources (land and money) are the major factors in this dysfunction and although we believe that a lot of this needs political solutions – not all of it can. After Theresa May our Prime minister said only a few weeks ago “The answer to our housing crisis does not lie in tearing up the Green belt” And with only 1.7 Million acres of brownfield or suitable land (that needs to go through a length planning process) available a totally new strategy needs to be found. The short answer is more of the same for the foreseeable future and therefore continued returns for our partners. I wish everyone a great easter period and look forward to the rest of the year ahead as green shoots continue to appear in our economy here in the UK but most importantly for our fund, stakeholders and partners it’s more of the same please, thank you.
Oxford Spires Group
Spot of tennis?
One of my aims when I began working on our first fund “Oxford Spires REIF LP” was to have an open relationship with as many as the limited partners as possible. This is not always easy as some are not based here in the UK but do sometimes pass through for one reason or another. So to help in this I asked recently one of them – whom was passing through – if they fancied a game of tennis (indoors) as away to get to know us more and to talk a bit of shop too. I thought this would be interesting, particularly given our proximity to the court on Merton Street and the fact that the most famous exponent of the game, Henry VIII is particular favourite king of mine. Indeed it was said that he was playing Real Tennis when he heard of the execution of his second wife, Anne Boleyn.
What i learnt from this experience was that what we achieved in those 90 mins or so and a cup of tea afterwards was so much more helpful for both of us in getting know what we are about and what we might be able to do further to help each other than several phone or camera calls. It has led me to confirm my beliefs that there is much more to this business than i possibly thought there was in the beginning and that helping, caring and being open minded with all partners of our fund is helping us all, stakeholders, partners and end users of our products grow and develop. It certainly helps in the trust we both need in each other to continue to grow what deliver a great product at a great price.
I hope to meet and spend some face to face time with a s many of the limited partners as I can and open up that invitation to potential partners too whom are unsure of dealing by phone or email. Oxford is an amazing historic place to live and work and entertain – we are blessed to be here for so many reasons.
Oxford Spires Group
More of the same please…
Wednesday, 24 January 2018
Happy 2018, happy new year one and all.
As I have said many times before our clients, our limited partners are very privileged and lucky to be able to get involved with our fund due to most often considerably hard work that has gone in to putting themselves and often their families in a position to benefit from what we do but also because unfortunately many funds and advisory services do not have their best interests at heart and are often set up in a way where the managers, guardians and advisors receive renumeration that can be significant, no matter the performance. Last year we past the milestone of two million pounds under management, One of the ways we like to show our gratitude and appreciation is to continue to work very hard ourselves for what our partners have already worked very hard for, their money. Upon doing our end of year accounts this month with our trusted partners JCK we are pleased to be in very positive territory (30% + for the year) despite the changes in sentiment and law that have taken place here in the UK and in this sector in the last 36 months.
Another way is that we have been contributing funds from old furniture that has been left behind in the assets we buy, that are re sold on Ebay (see here) to charities for the homeless.
We feel strongly that 2018 is lining up to be the best yet for our partners as we continue to perform strongly, as the market shows very real and strong signs of demand on the rental side and stagnation on the asset cost side, as our relationships with our suppliers and research elements strengthens along with our hand in negotiations. We have a lot to be grateful for and we have a lot to give to all sides of our deals as we grow and progress this year.
Oxford Spires Group
Monday, 18 December 2017
It seems a little strange to be writing the last post of the year it has gone so fast, on one level it seems that the last quarter only recently started and on the other Christmas is most certainly upon us.
So much has happened and it has been a good year with great success thus far for Oxford Spires REIF LP. Accounts are in on this one and we are sat at a capital gain of over 30% and a NET yield of just over 6% which; I am told is a very nice bit of festive cheer for our limited partners. Looking back this year we have achieved some of our core beliefs. We are still not charging full market rents to end users of our products – which means our occupancy is solid and additionally – now that – rents are dropping keeps our projections solid when many others are coming back not as good as expected (we are being polite)!
The end of the year does bring some other “endings” as such as Non Executive director William Addis is stepping back after helping guide us through the first three years and has proved invaluable, it has been emotional my friend. Nothing less than I expected after 25 years experience as MD of the number .1. private housing developer! His legacy here will live on and his contacts have now become ours too. Many, many thanks Bill!
I sincerely hope that all partners, suppliers and end users of our products have a wonderful end of the year and a very enjoyable festive period and thank you all for your support and business.
I very much look forward to continuing to deliver in as many areas as possible in 2018.
Oxford Spires Group
Friday 17th November 2017
Remembrance day and time is an annual event, of course and it happens with a kind of idiosyncrasy of fate at one of the most poignant times of the year here, a moment when the very last signs of the years colourful beauty is still clinging to the trees and when the cold harshness of winter begins to descend.
Taking some time to connect i feel it is an emotional time of year and i couldn’t help but feel moved. Driving through the countryside of Oxford taking my father in law fishing, my daughter and I were playing a game we often do of spotting how many colours we could see on the trees and bushes – I was struck actually by the intense colours on the trees and at the sides of the roads – I don’t think an impressionist artist could of emulated it any better. We know and feel when we are truly present and able to appreciate this fragility and beauty. It is a great moment to remember those who died fighting in wars – generally the young unfortunately. And for people with children or not it is a poignant thought and an opportunity to be grateful and to feel gratitude. My strong feeling now is to attempt to remember that and carry that gratitude and feeling in to everything we do and work to achieve for clients and end users of our products here at OSG.
This enables all of us here to be able to be better in every single way, more helpful, more tolerant and to be able to provide a better service, product and experience for everyone who is involved with us and our business.
As we continue to try and grow, we will continue to do it in the right way as we believe it to be which is not always the common way in our sector.
Oxford Spires Group
The longer game!!
You cannot travel far in Oxford without coming across signs for “Beard”? This is not because the people here in Oxford have a fondness for facial hair… No, but because the well known construction company Beard is adding yet more beauty to the skylines of Oxford with a wonderful new addition to Oxford’s extraordinary array of buildings.
There is a lot to learn from Mr. Mark Beard who is the managing director of what is still family run firm going on past the 125 year mark. Upon a recent meeting i was keen to learn what and how longevity such as this can be achieved. The key thing i learnt was not that a great grandfather had been in the Guinness book of records or that another had been honoured by the queen for efforts during the world war but that the key is simple – to meet its promises and deliver to its clients satisfactorily and taking care of them. Taking care of something always seems to and should matter greatly. The best ideas are always simple ones! Beard’s latest work at Worcester college here in Oxford is a beauty and seems to epitomise all things that help to make this city such a beautiful and amazing place and most importantly where details are cared about. Like many buildings here in Oxford they have worked with an eye to posterity instead of short term gain.
I would like to think that we here at OSG look towards the future and medium to long term gain as opposed to short term gain and recklessness – which seems to be the unspoken “motto” of many or our peers in our business of fund management. By paying attention to detail and taking care of our clients and the end users of our assets we can take great privilege in helping to build a sustainable and profitable portion of our clients portfolios with a clean conscious, peace of mind and a smile on our faces.
Welcome to OSG.
Oxford Spires Group
Summer holiday reminders!
Tuesday 12 September 2017
After a lovely summer break with family and friends I learnt some good reminders about energy, commitment and enjoying life but also to try and create that same environment in a professional experience for both stakeholders and limited partners and the realisation that the results will take care of them selves.
I was reminded of children’s adeptness for play over the summer and it never ceases to amaze me. Playing is something they seem to do without anyone having to encourage them. They are, when given the chance to play, full of energy and enthusiasm, and know exactly what to do. This was obvious when watching my daughter and friends playing on the beach. Running down to the sea, back again with the buckets, over to the rocks with the nets and back again, aware of where each other is, avoiding contact here, dodging sideways there. Meanwhile, by the play area a beach ball appears. Teams form, the ball is thrown and caught, people join, people drop out – everything seems to regulate itself without or with very little adult intervention. I suspect at the heart of all this action is something hardwired namely that children seem to enjoy play of many kinds and it seems to me that in all aspects of work life we should try to create situations like this, where we all can enjoy everything that we become involved at OSG with each and every project and that our enjoyment will provide the energy and commitment which we need to succeed for our limited partners and stakeholders alike.
Of course every decent business should look at often; the way it communicates and how it communicates internally and externally but there is no question that if we can try and simulate, through good communication and through personal connections made between stakeholders and limited partners this enjoyment and engage fully with activities and projects, then we will create the satisfaction which will lead to the commitment necessary for real success. Of course sometimes we need to lean on our team, our partners and prospective partners in order to get them to complete necessary tasks and get in to action, but by far the best approach we can take to all aspects of our functions and responsibilities, particularly investment and security work, is to create the same conditions as those observable on the beach, an atmosphere of joyous activity and commitment based upon love of progress, growing and securing our futures. That ultimately will lead all of us here to achieve most both now and in the long term.
Looking forward to a strong, positive end of year ahead .
Oxford Spires Group