How Dense is Your Neighbour(hood)?


Looking at the revised West Oxfordshire Local Plan and the requirement to deliver 660 new homes per annum until 2031, I thought it might be worth considering what these new developments might look like. How do the more recent, strategic developments stack up and what’s changing? Over the years housing densities have changed as new developments seemingly cram an ever-increasing number of properties into the available space. Looking at the biggest differences then you might be surprised to note that the average dwelling size is pretty consistent, it’s just the number of people within the given space which has rocketed. It’s time to get friendly with the (very close) neighbours!


Looking at the bigger picture, the most densely populated District in England (population per km2) is Islington at 15,670 and the least is Eden (Cumbria) at 24! Across Oxfordshire, the picture is more mixed. Oxford City comes in at 3,537, Cherwell is next at 248, followed by VoWH at 222, then South Oxfordshire at 203. West Oxfordshire is the least densely populated and at 152 people per km2 it’s the second least densely populated District in the South-East.

Where do tenants move from?

Finding data on the profile of tenants and actual rents paid (not just asking rents) has been like hunting for the Holy Grail in the property world, which is why we are delighted to announce that we have a new, large and reliable source, integrated into our databank and we will be digging deep in the coming months to explore trends and reveal insights.

For instance, we have been surprised by the short distances tenants generally move for a rental property. Over a quarter of tenants in England and Wales starting new tenancies in the last 12 months moved less than a mile from their previous home.


How Affordability has Changed over the Previous Decade – Millenials Spend 3 x More then their Grandparents on Housing

Research by the Resolution Foundation think tank has found that young people are spending three times more on housing than their grandparents did.At the age of 30 millennials spend 23% of their annual income on housing costs, compared to those born 1926–1945 who, aged 30, spent just 7%.

The post war baby boomers now benefit from record levels of outright ownership, but there are now as many young families (aged 25–34) living in the private rented sector as owning a home or living in the social rented sector combined (36%).


While the number of mortgage loans issued to first-time buyers over the past year is at its highest level since pre the financial crisis, the average age of a first time buyer looks set to continue to rise over the coming years.

It’s therefore cold comfort to those of us in the South-East that homes across more than half of the UK are more affordable now than before the financial crisis according to new research by the Yorkshire Building Society who analysed changes in local house prices and earnings since 2007.


The gap between the least and most affordable parts of Britain has doubled over the last decade, with housing affordability having fallen across all of London’s 32 boroughs.

Homes in cities including Birmingham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds, Harrogate, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Cardiff and Exeter are now more affordable than they were 10 years ago, while across Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham and York property price rises have outstripped wage growth.

With the communities secretary announcing a new methodology for new build development based on household projections and affordability criteria, local authorities with high affordability ratios could be expected to build up to 40% more than their current targets. Perhaps the West Oxfordshire Local Plan will be examined further?

5 Top Things to Consider BEFORE You Make Your Next Property Investment

cropped-20160303-img_50761. LoMap_West_Oxoncation. Is it in an area of high tenant demand? Cheap does not necessarily provide you with the best return on your investment.
2. Target tenants. Consider who your ideal tenants will be BEFORE you purchase, and search accordingly.
3. Refurbishment. What work needs done to make the property attractive to your target market and how much will this cost?
4. Management. How will you find your ideal tenants and how will you ensure they will look after your property and that you are paid on time.
5. Exit strategy. Often overlooked, how long do you intend keeping the property for and what are the tax implications on disposal?

If you are considering your next investment purchase please give us a call. We can discuss your options and help you find, refurbish and manage your property to ensure you achieve the best return on your investment.

We happy to provide expert advice without commitment or ‘hard sell.’
Please call Brendan on 01993 708638 to find out more.

How do schools affect house prices?

As the new school year gets underway, it seems timely to revisit the well-oiled notion that schools are an instrumental driver of local house prices.

If a property is located within a popular local school catchment, this is often one of the first attributes to be included on agents’ sales particulars, even before how many bedrooms the property has. But, how much more are home buyers prepared to pay to live close to an outstanding school? What impact does that Ofsted rating really have on local house prices?

Our analysis uses Land Registry data for property sales completed in 2016 and 2017 (to present), which totals over 860,000 transactions. Meanwhile, the DfE secondary school database has been cross referenced with Ofsted which totals over 3,200 schools. Average house prices have been calculated for bandings of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 miles from each school dependent on whether or not the latest Ofsted report for the school was graded outstanding. On this occasion, we have excluded London from this analysis since the closer proximity of schools together means that the distance bandings tend to overlap and affect the analysis.

The results of our analysis reveal that there is a definite price premium associated to homes close to outstanding schools. Properties located within one mile of an outstanding secondary school since the beginning of 2016 have sold for, on average, 20% more than properties within one mile of other schools across England, excluding London. This equates to an average premium of almost £47,000.

We have broken the analysis down by property type and the highest premiums paid to live closest to outstanding schools are for detached houses. Since the beginning of 2016, buyers have paid, on average, 28% more to live in a detached house within one mile of an outstanding school compared to within one mile of a non-outstanding school. This means buyers have had to find an extra £88,000.

Overall, the price premium drops off after one mile except for detached and semi-detached houses. Buyers of these homes are still prepared to pay a premium to live within one to two miles of an outstanding school. For detached homes this equates to 10% or an additional £35,000 and for semi-detached homes the premium is 7% or just under £14,000.


Buyers in the East of England pay the highest premiums overall for living close to outstanding schools. Since the beginning of 2016, properties within one mile of an outstanding school have sold, on average, for 46% more than those within one mile of other schools, a price premium of almost £117,000.

Witney has one outstanding primary school – The Batt CofE Primary School. However, we’re blessed with a plethora of ‘good’ rated primary schools. At secondary level, the nearest outstanding school is Bartholemew in Eynsham although both Henry Box and Wood Green are ‘good.’

The latest government report (2017) into Key Stage 2 saw 77% of pupils at Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School achieved the expected standard. The next best Primary school in this respect was The Batt CofE School at 69%, followed by West Witney (66%), Witney Community (64%) and Madley Brook (63%).

Oxfordshire Property Sales Plummet

The latest data from the ONS suggests that the volume of property transactions in Oxfordshire have plummeted[1]. Across the County as a whole, 26% fewer properties have been sold than 12 months previously whilst values have risen in line with inflation and crept up +2.7% to an average of £356,262. This compares with a average price of £243,339 (up +5.3%) across England.

As always, the picture differs significantly around the County with some noticeable headlines:

  • For the first time, average prices in South Oxfordshire (£416,226) have exceeded those of the City (£414, 612).
  • Oxford City was the only district to see an increase in transactions (+9.6%)
  • Vale of the White Horse saw a staggering -36.9% drop in transactions
  • South Oxfordshire values grew the most (+5.8%) and West Oxfordshire the least (+0.1%)
  • Nearby Cotswold District saw prices rise +12.6% to £393,557, the 5th highest rise in England


Drilling into the detail for West Oxfordshire, the latest Land Registry data shows property prices rising 4% over the last year against a 7% drop in transaction. In Carterton, compared with 12 months previously, values are up +12% against a -19% drop in houses sold.


[1] 12 months to November 17

Tax laws: As a Landlord, what can you claim for?

We understand that it can be confusing for landlords when determining which repair works and maintenance they can reclaim their tax on which is why we ve put together this helpful note. The cost of repairs to a newly-purchased property can sometimes be claimed if certain conditions are met. The key distinction to be made is between capital expenditure and routine maintenance.

Capital expenditure is the cost of acquiring the property and making it fit for use as a let. Routine maintenance is any expenditure beyond that, even if it is extensive. Continue reading “Tax laws: As a Landlord, what can you claim for?”