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PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: Then and now, the property market through the decades

Article by The Guild of Property Professionals

As Her Majesty The Queen celebrates her unprecedented 70 years on the throne with her Platinum Jubilee, we want to look back on how much the UK Housing Market has changed from when her reign began in 1952 to the present day.

70 Years Ago

In the 1950’s, according to Nationwide House Price Index, the average price of a house was around £1,891, which is approximately £65,000 in today’s money. The average salary was roughly £10 a week, so buying a property was no mean feat back then.

Member of The Guild of Property Professionals, Ken Bird, Owner and Managing Director at Renton & Parr, which was established in 1952 in Wetherby, says: “Renton & Parr are one of only two names that remain in Wetherby over the last 70 years. Other independents at the time either sold out to corporates or have closed. New entrants have come into the town and the market is far more competitive. However, we have a strong brand name supported by some excellent staff. We are a local business run by local people with strong local connections over several decades that has built up trust and reputation within the community.”

property market 1958

60 Years Ago

Most properties in the 60s had electricity, and the average price went up to a modest £3,344, which would have been around £60,000 today.

Worcestershire Guild Member, Philip Laney & Jolly, first opened their doors in 1966. Managing Director, Mel James-Wilson, believes that their customer care is the key their success. “Ensuring our customers are looked after, whether that’s buyers or sellers along with having a good relationship with our other industry specialists, surveyors, solicitors, and financial advisors has attributed to us standing the test of time. Loyalty, independence, and our local reputation has also had a good impact for Philip Laney & Jolly.”

Simon Davies, Branch Manager at Norman F Brown – established in North Yorkshire in 1967, comments that property was far more affordable in their early days of agency. “The wages to house price ratio especially for mortgage was much simpler and the amount of deposit required was not quite as much. We sold houses on a modern estate back in 1967 with the two-bedroom semi with garage and garden at £2,300 and a three-bedroom at £3,200. The average house price today, 55 years later, is about £275,000 in our area of North Yorkshire,” he adds.“There was not so much legislation back in those days, however, agents were qualified surveyors as a rule unlike today where you do not have to have any qualifications to set up as an estate agent! The red tape was certainly a lot less. Technology didn’t really exist, a camera, a phone and a paper file of buyers was the best of the technology and advertising was in the newspapers.”

50 Years Ago

The 1970’s brought the microwave oven, VHS video recorders and the word ‘groovy’ into our homes and again, saw the prices of houses rise to around £4,378. However, by 1975 this price took yet another step up to £10,388 being the usual price of a home.

40 Years Ago

In the 1980’s everything changed again. Synth pop became a mainstay in the music charts, and mobile phones was the size of your arm. You could have expected to pay around £33,200 for a property in 1985. However, in 1987 prices rose 16% in one year and a further 25% in 1988!

Ken Bird, Owner & Managing Director at Renton & Parr, says that his first house sale was in 1984. “It was a two-bedroom back-to-back in Armley, Leeds which I sold for £2,200. We had the estate agent act at the time but otherwise legislation was not a major issue at the time. The biggest change our agency has seen is technology. The internet has revolutionised our industry and the way we engage with our customers and vice versa. Prior to the internet it was all manual labour intensive, newspaper advertising was king.”

30 Years Ago

The 1990’s started with a property crash which saw the average price of homes drop by 20%. Slowly but surely the prices started to pivot and in 1995 the average price was around £51,633.

Steve Selby, Director at WhiteHeather Estates, Guild Member in Merseyside says: “Back when we first opened in the early nineties, I believe people needed to pay between three and four times their average income to acquire an average property. Nowadays with median income for last year being £31,400 according to the ONS and UK average house price at £278,000 it’s more like eight to nine times their average salary. “Ever creeping Legislation has been the biggest change over the past 30 years, particularly in respect of rentals, which I believe is now contributing to a growing number of smaller landlords exiting the market. I can’t recall a time during my career when demand has so outstripped supply.”

20 Years Ago

The turn of the century continued this upward trajectory of house prices as the average cost of a home was now around £77,698. In even more positive news, home gaming seriously improved for children and adult children alike as the PlayStation 2 was launched with record sales, to which Microsoft would answer in 2001 with the Xbox.

Angi Cooney, Owner at C residential, another Guild Member whose doors opened in 2002, comments that her first house sale happened when she was painting the office 20 years ago and the agency hadn’t even opened yet. “We relied very much on local newspaper advertising as the property portals were in their infancy and we sold very much to a local audience. I think technology is amazing – it makes things easier and quicker. I, for one, embrace technology and although at times you can feel very ‘prop-teched’ out, by a large it has changed our industry for the better. The blessing and the curse are rising costs, particularly in regards to the property portals that seem to think they play a much bigger part in selling houses than they actually do,” she says.

In just five years, house prices leapt a huge £75,000, taking the average property cost to £152,790. The popular TV show EastEnders also celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2005, which saw Dirty Den bite the bullet to millions of viewers across the UK.

Frances Bowling, Operations Director at Moss Properties remembers her first house sale, 20 years ago, like it was yesterday, “It was a £48,000 probate property, money laundering was very basic then, the conveyancing system is still the same but us agents are more proactive in getting the first part of the legals done on instruction to avoid any delays upon finding a buyer, which nowadays happens more often than not before going to market.”

Frances comments that people are more digital minded these days and that estate agency has evolved into a digital service as opposed to a traditional high street shop front. “We are early adopters of new prop-tech to ensure we’re constantly raising standards and the journeys of our clients but ultimately, we have stood the test of time because of the strong relationships we’ve built, and 5-star service as shown by our google reviews.”

10 Years Ago

Statistics in 2010 showed that prices were still on the up, but not by the huge margins that the previous five years saw. The average price for a property for the first half of this decade was around £167,294. While outside of the property market, Instagram was launched, and Apple introduced the iPad, which gave birth to the nation’s obsession with tablets.

Simon James, Director of Guild Member Comyn and James, says that mortgage affordability has become harder to achieve even in the last decade “Assuming the average UK house price today is in the region of £305,000 we have seen a rise of approximately 80% in the past 10 years. People of retirement age during the decade, in many cases, benefited from the uplift in the value of their own property combined with inheriting their parents’ property. Mortgage affordability, as a percentage of income, has become harder to achieve and the tightening up of mortgage criteria following banking scandals over the past decade mean that first time buyers and those seeking large mortgages are struggling.”

“Comyn and James combine the use of modern technology with genuine local knowledge and approachability. We all live locally and benefit from a large number of recommended transactions with very pleasing reviews, which we are very grateful. From opening in 2010 we have never needed to canvass for business as we work solely on our reputation and recommendations. We work long hours – often outside normal times and we are always available either on e-mail or phone. The secret is very simple, and this has never changed in our 12 years: keep it straight, keep it honest, and above all, respect your clients.”

Fifteen years on from the turn of the century, average property prices had increased by over £100,000, meaning you would need around £188,566 to buy a house. Towards the end of the 2010’s the value has continued to rise as sources show that the average cost was around £215,910 in 2019.

As we move into the present day, the average cost of a property across the UK has further risen to approximately £260,771 for around 730 sq. ft. It will be interesting to see what the next decade holds house prices and the property market.

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