Forget Covid-19 and Brexit. The question to which most people in the UK would want an uncertain answer is what will happen to house prices in 2021.
Before the new coronavirus pandemic, one of the main ways in which the UK’s Conservative Party boosted consumer confidence was pushing house prices up with the aid of various taxpayer-funded schemes such as Help to Buy.
But as the damage done by Covid-19 to the economy heaps pressure on the public purse, should the taxpayer still generously fund schemes that mainly serve to boost house prices and the fortunes of a few big companies and their already well-off clients?
The price growth of an “asset” into which investors everywhere around the globe have poured billions since the financial crisis has slowed dramatically, and this should worry policymakers.
Housing markets in certain developed economies are beginning to lose steam, prompting worries that house prices might see corrections, especially in countries where they had been overheating.
A statement from Halifax shares the “good” news: home prices paid by first-time buyers are the highest ever.
In the first half of this year, first-time buyers paid on average £207,693 for a home, the highest price on record. This is 4% higher than a year ago, and 50% higher than five years ago.
One of the main complaints of some of the “Leave” voters was that Britain is a “small island” and it is “full up.” Immigration “puts pressure” on local services such as hospitals and schools, but, most importantly, on local housing.
Even Prime Minister Theresa May, when she was Home Secretary, said immigration was putting pressure on the housing sector.
Intriguingly, however, it seems the kind of foreigner whom the UK government welcomes is the foreigner who buys homes but never lives in them – the foreign investor.
The Brexit vote must be manna from heaven for those seeking to hide their illicit gains in London. Busy with all their posturing and negotiations, politicians will have no time to curtail the criminals’ activities.
Among the analysts and politicians criticising the single European currency, perhaps the most numerous (and vocal) come from Britain.
This should be no surprise: the UK itself is a currency union, and those working within it should know a thing or two about why such a regime does not really work.
Many people hope that the UK Prime Minister’s rhetoric calling for a fairer society means she will address what is by far the biggest inequality in today’s Britain: the housing crisis. But a recent speech, in which she outlined her plan for Brexit, seems to indicate that she is unwilling to really tackle the issue.
The announcement by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement that letting agency fees charged on tenants will be banned has been met with cries of outrage from estate agents.
Their rage is in part justified. Lately, they have been asked to do much more administrative tasks than simply running credit referencing checks. They are also supposed to check immigration papers as well, to ensure that prospective tenants have the right to be in the country in the first place.