I was having an interesting chat with a Edinburgh buy to let landlord the other day when the subject of size of households came up in conversation. For those of you who read my previous articles, one of the reasons that I think that the Edinburgh property market will be OK in the medium to long term is the fact that the size of households in the 21st Century are getting smaller – which would create demand for Edinburgh property and therefore keep property prices from dropping.
Looking at the stats going back to the early 1960’s, when the average number of people in a home was exactly 3, over the years it has steadily dropped by a fifth to today’s figure of 2.4 people per household. Doesn’t sound a lot, but if the population remained at the same level for the next 50 years and we had the same 20% drop in household size, the UK would need to build an additional 5.28 million properties (or 105,769 per year) . When you consider the Country is only building 139,800 properties a year. It doesn’t leave much for people living longer and immigration, looking closer to home.
In Edinburgh, the average number of occupants per household is 2.2 people which is 8.3% lower than the national average.
When we look at the current picture nationally and split it down into tenure types (i.e. owned, council houses and private renting), a fascinating picture appears.
The vast majority of homeowners who don’t have a mortgage are occupied by one or two people (81% in fact), although this can be explained as residents being older, with some members of the family having moved out, or a pensioner living alone. People living on their own are more likely to live in a Council house (43%) and the largest households (those with 4 or more people living in them) are homeowners with a mortgage – but again, that can be explained as homeowners with families tend to need a mortgage to buy. What surprised me was the even spread of private rented households and how that sector of population are so evenly spread across the occupant range – in fact that sector is the closest to the national average, even though they only represent a sixth of the population.
When we look Edinburgh figures for all tenures a slightly different picture appears...
But it gets even more interesting when we focus on just private rental properties in Edinburgh, as it is the rental market in Edinburgh that really fascinates me. When I analysed those Edinburgh private rental household composition figures, a slightly different picture appears as around:
- 42% of Private Rental Properties are 1 person Households
- 38% of Private Rental Properties are 2 person Households
- 11% of Private Rental Properties are 3 person Households
- 6% of Private Rental Properties are 4 person Households
- 3% of Private Rental Properties are 5+ person Households
As you can see, Edinburgh is dissimilar from the national picture and this should help determine your investment strategy. If you are considering future buy to let purchases in the coming 12 to 18 months, I would seriously consider looking at 1 or 2 bed properties. Even with the numbers stated, there are simply not enough 1 or 2 bedroom properties to meet the demand. They have to be in the right part of Edinburgh and priced realistically, but they will always let and when you need to sell, irrespective of market conditions at the time, will always be the target of buyers.
To keep up-to-date with the rented property sector in Edinburgh, visit my property blog by click here.