50% of West Hampstead house sellers in 2022 had only been in their old home on average 7 years and 16 weeks
The share of Brits moving each year has been declining since the late 1980s (when at one stage, people moved every eight years), yet since the pandemic's beginning, something has appeared to upset that trend.
Newspaper stories and social media posts painted a picture of homeowners moving from the city centres to its suburbs, from the suburbs to the towns and countryside around the UK. Areas like the Cotswolds and coastal towns around the country got swamped by the 'race for space', significantly affecting housing markets (including West Hampstead).
But how many Brits moved? And how long had they been in their homes before they moved?
In Great Britain, there are 28.3 million households, of which 19.3 million are owner-occupied and 4.43m owned by private buy-to-let landlords.
There is £7,035 trillion of residential property in private hands.
Eight years before the initial lockdown in 2020, an average of 79,646 properties were sold each month in the UK, meaning just under a million UK households move home annually.
Therefore, in those 8 years, the average British homeowner moved every 20 years and 4 months.
So, what uplift was there in people moving home after the first lockdown in 2020?
In 2021 and early 2022, an average of 102,021 people moved home monthly, taking the average move time to once every 16 years. So even though there was an uplift in people moving home, it was nothing like the 1980s.
It shows that in the 21st Century, once you have succeeded in buying a property you can call home, there isn't much enthusiasm to move again.
What is happening in the West Hampstead property market now?
We love our homes in West Hampstead, but most of us (including myself) still want to 'better our lives' with a larger house, better area etc., which typically requires us to climb up the West Hampstead property ladder.
Yet, with West Hampstead house prices having risen by 404.5% in the last 25 years, the cost of going up the next rung on the West Hampstead property ladder has become prohibitive.
Everyone remembers back to the 1980s, when we had an upbeat booming property market as a backdrop, and British homeowners moved home every eight years; so now, with the average move time in the mid to late teens (in years), this equates to each homeowner only moving around three to four times in their adult lifetime.
Or could it be something else?
We all know the phrase, “lies, damn lies and statistics".
The home moving statistics above hide some great details about the British property market.
When British homeowners get into their 50s, 60s and beyond, their inclination to move home drops like the proverbial stone.
The average time a homeowner without a mortgage moves home is 24 years and 27 weeks (and just over 7 out of 10 outright homeowners, i.e., without a mortgage, are 65 or older).
Homeowners with a mortgage tend to be younger to middle-aged.
Homeowners with a mortgage move on average every 10 years and 11 weeks.
So, whilst I cannot determine which house seller has a mortgage and which doesn't, I can look at how quickly people move home in West Hampstead.
Therefore, I have taken a look at the last 50 property sales in West Hampstead and found some interesting results.
The average West Hampstead homeowner had only been in their home on average 14 years and 49 weeks before they sold.
Yet the devil is in the detail.
There appears to be a two-speed West Hampstead property market …
50% of West Hampstead house sellers in 2022 had only been in their old home on average 7 years and 16 weeks.
Then, let's split the findings into quarters.
- Top 25% fastest West Hampstead homeowners in 2022 moved on average after 4 years & 39 weeks
- The following 25% of fastest West Hampstead homeowners in 2022 moved on average after 9 years & 36 weeks
- The next 25% of West Hampstead homeowners in 2022 moved on average after 18 years & 4 weeks
- Whilst the 25% slowest West Hampstead homeowners in 2022 moved on average after 26 years & 40 weeks
When looking at the properties that fall into the slower time bands (i.e., the ones that don’t move/sell so often), they tend to be the larger properties where the homeowners have lived often for 30 or 40 years.
Maybe, the one lesson from these statistics is that once homeowners get into their 60’s and 70’s, their tendency and inclination to move home declines significantly.
This means the homes on the lower rungs of the West Hampstead property ladder are selling quickly (as younger aged homeowners occupy them) ... yet once West Hampstead people tend to get older, their tendency to move diminishes.
This obstructs the younger generation of West Hampstead homeowners from wanting to buy the bigger West Hampstead properties these mature West Hampstead homeowners live in.
What is holding the older generation back from selling and downsizing to free up family homes for families that desperately need them? Some will be apathy, and some will be wanting to hold on to the homes they brought their families up in, yet the bottom line is …
as a country, we must reconsider how we can encourage (not force) older homeowners to sell their large homes to release them to the younger families that desperately need them.
Some recent articles I have written suggested tax breaks, yet the government doesn't have the money to give massive tax breaks.
One thing I do know we, as a country, have seen (and will continue to see) a lot of demographic change together with an increasingly ageing population, so it’s not just about how many households we build but whether we are constructing the right kind of homes for the older generation?
Thought-provoking times are ahead for the West Hampstead property market!
If you have a West Hampstead property to sell in the coming months or years and want to know how this and other factors will affect you and your property ... without obligation, don't hesitate to call me.