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Demographics and Property

We are all getting older and there will be more of us.Over a half of all babies born in 2017 in the UK are now expected to live to be one hundred.

These sorts of claims seem to me to be to be a bit curious and often are based on just extrapolating past statistical trends, i.e: People have been living longer at X rate per decade and that rate will continue.
That is all well and good, but it ignores the possible negative impact of a host of factors. We could start off listing global warming and whatever Kim Jong Un decides to do (or Donald Trump for that matter!) and go from there. There are many reasons that children born today will not live to 100 if you think about it.

And, sure enough, within the last few months, statisticians have been amazed to find that in the last year, the average life expectancy of people over 65 was suddenly shorter than the year before – and in some areas by more than a whole year.

The experts were at a loss to explain what was causing this – some said flu, others said NHS strains. But there was no clear consensus. (In the USA, increasing recreational use use of opioid drugs has been cited as a factor in a longer trend).

Of course it blows the whole “rise of centenarians” idea out of the water, or it could do.

Maybe it is just a blip, a random occurence driven by some one-off factors?

Demography is a Fat Issue

Or perhaps we are seeing the first impact of an unprecendented (in human history terms) rise of sedentary lifestyles, driven in large part by technological developments?

I think this could be part of the reason. When I go running in my local parks I see hardly any kids playing in those parks. I guess they are all at home playing on their gadgets. When I was a child, our parks were full of kids hanging out and playing. Or is my memory playing tricks on me?

So sedentary lifestyles could be one factor. I think it is a potential biggie, but I’m neither a health expert nor a professional demographer. The fact is I just don’t know. But the fact is, things can change – and in unexpected ways, that supposed experts don’t seem to have thought of. And quickly.

If we are going to live less long than expected before, we will need less houses and possibly different types of houses too.

Demography and Brexit

Another factor impacting housing and very relevant to the UK is the impact of Brexit.

This is being carefully scrutinised by everyone and his wife. One big factor in Brexit is what will happen to the exchange rate (which itself depends on the type of deal we get).

What we do know right now though, is that since the UK voted to leave the EU, the exchange rate has taken a bit of a tumble against all major currencies. This has impacted a number of things related to property – the amount of inward foreign investment and the level of migration, to name just two.

Statistics show that the numbers of migrants coming into the UK to live and work has reduced quite significantly since we voted for Brexit. This is because their earnings in the UK, when translated back into their home currencies are not as good as what the same earnings could be elsewhere in the Eurozone or most other developed economies.

So they are choosing to stay at home or to go to other countries instead. And with the Eurozone’s economy now growing faster than the UK’s, there are lots of jobs in Germany and Sweden and other fast growing economies.

Statistics and Lies

And then there are damn lies and statistics of course.

Everyone knows that house prices are soaring everywhere in the UK and have done “for the last decade or so”. Well, the London-centric press may give you that idea. Except, they haven’t been soaring everywhere,  as I explained in a blog of a few months ago. See this link:

Sure, London makes a lot of noise. And yes, house prices have risen here. And we hear a lot about it because a lot of the national press is based in the capital. But, as the link explains, in more than half English and Welsh wards, house prices were less in real terms in 2017 than they were ten years earlier.

Landlords Selling Up?

What of landlords? Are many selling off parts of their portfolios? Have they finally got fed up of tax rises, increased regulation and being portrayed as public enemy number one and “most favoured public whipping boy” of all political parties?

The evidence is mounting up that there is a bit of a sell off going on.

But with fewer rental properties to be found, rents will surely climb in the long run (unless the level of inward migration really does falter, thus choking off some demand).

The fact is that its very hard to predict the future. All you can do is run an efficeint property letting business. And be smarter than the next landlord.

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