PROPERTY AND ANOTHER ELECTION – IS IT TIME FOR A CHANGE?
Theresa May’s announcement this week that the Government intends going to the polls on June 8 will have taken many by surprise. No doubt there’s a political strategy behind the decision – one the Conservatives are probably hoping will suit them best – but, for the rest of us, it’s another lurch into the unknown and that is bound to have repercussions. The property market is as likely as any other to be affected and, for some, that might be a good thing and, for others maybe not.
First of all, let’s not forget it’s already a sellers’ market. World events such as Brexit and The Donald’s succession to power in America mean there are homeowners who might otherwise have considered moving adopting a wait-and-see approach instead. Fewer homes available inevitably exacerbates demand which tends to lead to an upward trend in asking prices. With an election now scheduled for June, that situation isn’t going to get any better.
However, although there may be fewer sellers around, the irony is that those who do decide to take their property to market may actually do better now than they would if world events move on apace and the artificial bottlenecks applied by political considerations ease.
For first-time buyers though, an election isn’t good news – at least not for the next seven weeks. If the number of homes on the market falls further as sellers await a result, not only does it get even harder to find the right home for you, there could even be a short-term spike in prices – and they won’t necessarily fall again either, at least not in the short-term.
But perhaps the biggest threat another election poses to the housing market depends on who wins. If it’s the Tories, emboldened by a mandate, we could see more radical policy reforms but, equally, if it’s Labour – or any other party come to that – we could see the slate wiped clean and a whole new tranche of new measures introduced which, however well-meaning, could result in slowing the pace of the change in the property market we so desperately need.
Of course, right now, it’s all if, buts and maybes – and there’s the rub. With no long-term strategy insulated against the ever-changing landscape of politics, we simply don’t know what to expect.
Is it time for an independent body or a commission to set long-term strategies for something as vital to the economy as the property market rather than leaving it to the whim of Westminster which, after all, faces change and upheaval every five years? Is it time for someone or something other than the Government to lead the way on building, address the skills shortage in the construction industry, work with local government on issues which stop us keeping up with housing demand and to ensure there are homes which our children will be able to afford in a few years time?
It’s not for us to say, but it’s a thought. Would you vote for that…?