The media prefers to focus instead on the fact that property values are not rising as fast as they once were.
June has been a pretty good month at Esale Towers. We’ve taken instruction on a record number of properties – at least for us – and we’ve sold quite a few too.
But, like many things, it would be wrong to use our experience as a snapshot of the industry as a whole. If we’re honest, the last few weeks have actually been pretty gloomy for the property market in the UK.
For a start, there’s has been a little bit of despondency about house prices. It’s not that the bottom’s dropped out of the market or anything; it’s just that homes are not selling at the same speed or for as much money as they might have done a little while back.
A General Election and the Brexit negotiations have had something to do with that of course. But then so has the fact that houses are becoming so expensive, they’re beginning to edge out of most first time buyers’ budgets. Despite some great mortgage deals, it’s not easy raising that deposit anymore
Some folk no doubt will have been hoping George Osborne was right when, just 12 months ago as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he forecast an 18% drop in property values if we voted Britain out of the EU. Today, with property values up over 3% on June 2016, those predictions are looking a bit silly. You might think then that there would be cause for celebration in that – but no. The media prefers to focus instead on the fact that property values are not rising as fast as they once were.
But, for us, the disappointment comes not from our obsession with house prices but in the Government’s failure, once again, to take the lead on housing.
Six months ago, it looked like we might have made some progress, with Theresa May and new Chancellor Phillip Hammond pledging to do something about the plight of the “Just-About-Managings”, giving priority to initiatives to accelerate the construction of more affordable homes and to make home ownership something our kids can aspire to once again.
But, in the Queen’s Speech though, there was about as much substance as there was pomp and circumstance in one of the most low-key affairs Westminster has seen for decades. There was mention of a Housing Bill but it seemed its focus will largely be on more controls on the private rented sector. Other than the announcement that the HS2 link would continue between Birmingham and Manchester, there wasn’t much for developers to get excited about.
So, as we’ve said before – and will no doubt say again – now could be the time for a new Housing Commission to take strategy out of the hands of the political parties who can only really plan five years at a time. If we’re going to get ourselves out of the mess created by decades of under-investment and neglect, the UK desperately needs a long-term housing strategy set aside from the machinations of Westminster.
Will we get it? Probably not in the short-term as it’s hard to see senior party figures looking any further than Brexit at the moment. But, in the long term, if there’s enough pressure or enough momentum, who knows?