Company owner seek changes to boost property sector
The founder and owner of Greenwoods Residential Sales and Lettings, he established the business six years ago after 37 years serving with the Royal Navy. He joined the service as a sixteen-year-old boy sailor and spent the next four decades on vessels all over the world, taking in conflicts including Kosovo, the Gulf War and the Balkan Conflict, during which time he became a very experienced Warfare Officer.
Peter rose through the ranks to Commander but at the age of 54 Royal Navy rules meant that he had to retire from his globetrotting frontline lifestyle. He said: “I felt too young to retire from working and I really wanted to own my own business and, having a huge passion for property, I decided to set up my own estate agency.
“Having been a successful landlord myself over the past 20 years, I really felt I had a good understanding of the property market so I decided to set up the business in the area in which I adore living with my family and where I have lived for the past 17 years, which is Kingston.“After trading for five years in the North Kingston area, I am pleased to say that our business has gone from strength to strength, selling a number of wonderful houses and flats and having also rented out a large number of properties.
“The rental market continues to grow year on year as many people find themselves unable to afford their first starter homes. There has also been a significant increase in the number of people opting not to move but to extend their existing houses instead.”One major driver for the slowdown in house sales over the past year and a half, Peter firmly believes, is the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit. He said: “The majority of people who move out of central London to live in the Kingston area do so to take advantage of the outstanding schools, the amazing recreation areas like Richmond Park, Canbury Gardens and being able to walk or bike ride alongside the River Thames, not to mention the superb shopping centre, restaurants and bars. Who wouldn’t want to live here?
“However, a large proportion do not work in the borough, they make that 26-minute train journey each day to work in central London which is right on our doorstep. “With the uncertainty of Brexit those people working for banks or insurance companies or international businesses, with headquarters in London, are going to be worried that the businesses may move or whether or not their job will be safe.
“Brexit and the new Stamp Duty is having an effect on the property market as more and more people are deciding to wait to see what happens and opting to extend their homes instead of moving, which is actually very good for the Kingston economy as good quality builders and tradesman are really busy, but it does have a damping effect on the property market.” He believes that changes in the recent Budget will have a beneficial effect on the market but only at the lower end of the market up to the £500,000 bracket. Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in November that he would abolish Stamp Duty land tax on homes under £300,000 for first-time buyers.
However, Peter says that for the vast majority of Kingston residents the new duty will continue to really hurt families if they wish to move, with the average price of a two bedroom property costing £400,000 and although he welcomes the Chancellor’s announcement that 300,000 extra new homes a year will be built, Peter believes that it is essential that the Government keeps to its promises to build these new homes.
He said: “The real key to building new homes is providing homes that people in the public sector can afford, by that I mean our teachers, nurses, fireman, policemen, blue light services, and these properties then need to be protected for the future for these type of people, not resold after two years onto the open market.”
Central to easing such challenges, he believes is offering more support for the private rented sector. Peter constantly gets called by tenants who are on benefits and desperately trying to get a decent rental home. However, most of his landlords will not take housing benefit tenants because if the tenant fails in the future to be entitled to the benefit or if they stop paying the rent then it will cost the landlord on average £3000 to evict them and the advice the council gives to the tenants is to sit tight until the bailiff arrives at which time they will then be given emergency housing. He believes that councils can do more to support the rented sector by offering a rent guarantee insurance scheme so that landlords housing people on Universal Credit are not out of pocket should a tenant default.