On the thorny subject of house prices, what we have right now are house prices still rising despite the economic downturn which is following the Covid 19 pandemic.
Why is this?
The reasons are actually straightforward but the current upward trajectory is not good news for those who need financial help to become home-owners in the future.
Research from Savills released in March 2021, estimates that the UK’s housing stock became worth £7.56 trillion – more than four times the value of the FTSE 100 index on the London Stock Exchange. These are seriously head-turning economic statistics!
What is particularly interesting, are the recent stats which explain that the value of mortgaged owner-occupied homes currently is only about £2.5 trillion, whereas there is £5.0 trillion worth of UK property which is owned completely mortgage-free. In other words this is twice as much as the value of today’s homes being purchased with a mortgage.
This would suggest that the main driver of the present government’s policy, is to continue to encourage capital growth in the housing sector. Such capital value increases obviously favour those who already have substantial property assets however, of course, the converse must therefore be true. These same policies can thus only hinder first-time buyers’ ability to become owners, as their purchasing ability is dependent upon and geared to earnings not capital values.
Polly Neate, the CEO of Shelter, is reported to be saying there is a “desperate shortage” of actually affordable homes for people on low incomes.
It’s simply no good putting up with what there is, or just continuing in exactly the same way as before.
We all have to change for the better. We should do this by treating first time buyers just the way we would like to be treated ourselves, even if we own houses outright. Houses are roofs over peoples’ heads rather than capital assets expected to appreciate in value before all else!
The House Price Solution has come up with the best possible new policy for the whole of the housing sector and for stabilising house prices within it.
In a nutshell the new policy is this:
Firstly, Neighbourhood Development Plans (or NDPs), which are readily available planning tools, should be adopted across the whole country and they ought to include similar purchasing restrictions to those which have more recently been enshrined in the St Ives, Cornwall Area NDP, the H2 policies.
These are to allow local earners a better chance to become local owners and to buy (rather than continue to rent) their principal residences.
As long as there are numbers of local earners who are not becoming mortgagor/owners, these people ought to be considered in preference to those simply having greater wealth and wishing to move to a new location of their choice.
The effect of this policy would be to help retain local communities functionally intact.
The alternative, which we have seen all too much of recently, is allowing whole areas to become ghost towns, owned by richer buyers from further afield. Allowing this destroys local communities of course.
One may easily understand that the present property-owning statistics demonstrate that a new policy is needed if we are to protect local individuality and preserve communities from societal desecration i.e. suffer the same fate that has befallen high streets up and down the country having become clones of one another lacking individuality over time. Specifically, I mean that we should save the character and cohesion of localities, from outside influences such as from those simply hoping to buy into a location just to gain an additional property investment for themselves.
BUT, something more than this is required if we are to stabilise the accelerating rise in house-prices and instead make way for a fairer and more inclusive house-price environment.
What is also required is a much better way to determine house prices themselves and it is this idea which I now put forward, naming it The House Price Solution.
In essence it is all about how to market houses in a way that can balance-out the different offers from competing buyers fairly and more equitably, resulting in a better marketplace for all those wishing to buy their next homes to live in.
It involves changing the way in which houses have traditionally been sold using vendor-led estate agency, to having new buyer-orientated agencies instead. Many of those who are employed in vendor-led estate agency practices currently could fairly easily get re-trained and become registered as buyer-advising agents.
These agents would handle incoming offers in a very different way by acting for and liaising with the different buyers. Sellers would be less able to influence the prices that are achieved because offers would be received directly from the buyers competing with one another, to the relevant buyers’ agents. These offers would be passed to the appropriate vendors by their own buying agents and this would allow house prices themselves to stabilise across the various different regions of the country. The mechanism by which this could happen would be by all offers becoming primarily dependent upon local buyers’ offer-price levels.
Only houses which are exempt from the H2 residence restrictions would be available for purchase by wealthier buyers from the rest of the country, these being outside the scope of these policies.
The above would help the success rate of individual housing transactions themselves, causing a general improvement in the number of house sales able to be made.
As explained, the goal of preserving local communities by providing sufficient and affordable homes up and down the country, whilst still allowing a smaller number of the wealthier buyers to integrate, could be achieved. Better price stability within all UK housing markets also would be the clear result.
Shelter’s impact and activities:
How to Improve all local housing markets across England and Wales
Posted by: Peter Hendry, Housing Valuation Consultant
Author of:– The House Price Solution (otherwise known as The Hendry Solution).
What do you think about this idea for drastically improving the operation of all housing markets potentially across the whole of Britain?
Constructive comments are very much welcomed.